Ron Bellus Supports GPS Board Agenda Approval Change
Here's the question that came before the GPS board on June 24, 2014: Should the Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools determine the agenda for the Governing Board meetings, as has been the policy since 2000? Or should the president of the Governing Board set the agenda for Governing Board meetings?
Ron Bellus, candidate for GPS Governing Board, explains below why the president should set the agenda.
“I fully support and applaud the Gilbert School Board for making this important change in who sets the agenda for Board meetings,” Mr. Bellus said. “The elected Board members are responsible for making policy for the District, not the Superintendent. The Superintendent should not be dictating the agenda. The power to control the agenda is the power to control the creation of policy. Creating policy is the constitutionally mandated responsibility of the elected Board members. Thankfully, that is back in the hands of those elected by the people to represent us on the School Board.”
Mr. Bellus spoke during the Public Comment portion of the Board meeting Tuesday night (June 24, 2014). He encouraged the Board to change the policy that reportedly had been in place since 2000. Here is the full text of his comments:
“Thank you, members, for the opportunity to speak. I’m Ron Bellus and for full disclosure, I am a candidate for the Gilbert School Board. I ask one simple question: What is the single most important responsibility you have as an elected official, as a member of the School Board?
“I have heard one Board member say that it’s to hire a competent Superintendent, then step aside and let him or her ‘do their job.’ I can see where that might be a reasonable assumption, considering all the responsibilities given to the Superintendent. But actually, that’s where your job begins, not ends. The single most important responsibility you have as a member of the School Board is to make policy. Everything else you do extends from there. The budget, personnel matters, curriculum—everything is an extension of what the policies are. And you make policy through School Board meetings like this one. And these School Board meetings are governed by an agenda. Therefore, whoever controls and sets the agenda, controls and sets policy. That’s Civics 101. This shouldn’t even be debatable.
“The most egregious wrong a previous Gilbert School Board did was to abdicate that responsibility by giving that power to the Superintendent. I applaud Dr. Rice (GPS Interim School Superintendent) for recognizing his civic responsibility by putting this vital issue before the Board. Thank you Dr. Rice; and I hope every Superintendent in this state whose district has a similar policy follows your example to correct this great error. If not, perhaps the Legislature will.
“Our system of representative government means that we voters elect board members to represent us and meet to make policy. You are directly accountable to the voters, not the Superintendent. You are elected to make policy, not the Superintendent. Elected officials make policy, not staff. The Board hires the Superintendent and supervises him or her to make sure the policies you make are carried out. That is how our system of representative government works, and it can only work properly by following that procedure, by following your constitutionally mandated responsibility.
“Do you consult with the Superintendent? Of course. You also should consult with teachers, parents, the Town Council and other elected officials, the business community, even our students. But the agenda is your responsibility to set, because it is your responsibility and yours alone to make policy. I urge you in the strongest terms to unanimously vote ‘yes’ on this issue. Thank you.”
(The Board voted 3-2 to support the change. Staci Burk, Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith voted in favor; Lily Tram and Jill Humphreys voted against.)
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