Swatting email gnats

One sign of the Duluth School Board’s dysfunction can be found in the Board email box. For my first three months on the Board there was a busy selection of posts by Board members over a host of topics. That has almost completely dried up. I can only imagine that the members in the majority have found new avenues of communication to get around the gnatty minority.

That has not ended email communications all together. We can send each other email “privately” to fellow board members without addressing them to all board members. I’ve had several correspondences with Chair Miernicki and so has Art Johnston. Art has been good enough to share some of this recent correspondence with me pertaining to our mutual interest in being able to put items on the School Board agenda for discussion. The last one is priceless. Here in order are five of them:

Art to Mike September 2

Hi Bill and Mike:

I have two agenda item requests:

1. Discussion on the decision process that the Superintendent, his cabinet, and staff uses on important decisions. E.g., HR, budget, school board, and legal.

2. Discussion on the Superintendent evaluation by the school board. This was due per our contract with Bill G. at the start of the year and is long overdue.

Art Johnston
School Board member

Mike to Art September 2

Hello Art,
Thank you for your letter.
#1 – We will not have a discussion on the “decision process.” The request is somewhat vague – maybe you and I can talk about what you mean. I have always believed that we hire Superintendents to make decisions from day-to-day within the bounds set by the Board. The Board members should not micromanage the decision process that is usually given to Superintendents around the State.
#2 – I agree with this. We decided last February to hold the Superintendent Evaluation in October when we had more information on enrollment, staffing, State MDE reports, etc. We will ask Mr. Sworsky to discuss the evaluation process with us prior to our October evaluation.
Best Wishes,
Mike Miernicki

Art to Mike, September 2

 If sounds like you saying that you are unilaterally making this decision on our agenda. That is inappropriate and a violation of our policies, not to mention our parliamentary authority, and abuse of authority, and violation of ethics.

1. I am not meaning to micromanage our Superintendent, but on macro decisions and controversial issue, I believe that it is our duty, as elected representatives, to be aware what is going on and the process on how such decisions are made by the administration. Specially, I am not asking about any specific decision, but how does the Superintendent actually make major decisions? That is certainly a macro type of decision and falls far outside your micromanagement definition. I would be glad to meet with you to talk over my concerns. Name a time and place. My request continues to put it on the agenda.

2. We did not agree to postpone our decision until October. We said that we would schedule it as soon as possible and that was seven month ago. Also, the Superintendent contract says yearly, and the due date was last February. If we do not follow the contract language, that gives us less legal standing on everything on contract compliance.

There are other agenda issue that have been previously submitted which I also expect to be on the agenda.

Mike to Art, September 2

We will proceed with the Superintendent evaluation in October. Other items will not be on the agenda.
Looking forward to a great school year!
Mike Miernicki

Art to Mike, September 2

So when are you going to meet to talk this over as you requested?

Mike to Art, September 2

I read your reply. It is obvious that you have issues with me. I will not meet with you. I am afraid of you.
Mike Miernicki

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