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Green Bay school board has yet to hire facilitator

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay school board plans to conduct interviews next Monday with four outside facilitators as it continues to seek guidance on how to work more effective as a board.

“We as a board have to collectively get our act together,” Trustee Katie Mahoney said. “We need a makeover.”

Last month, after hours of discussion, a board majority vote tabled a decision to hire Howick Associates, of Madison, for facilitation services.

That decision was meant to be made at the May 6 meeting. However, after nearly another hour of discussion, the original motion was withdrawn and the topic was pushed another week.

“We keep having the same conversations over and over and I do feel that some of the leadership decisions being made prior to, or at this board table set us up to not be successful,” said Trustee Kristina Shelton. “And those are the systems and structures that I continue to talk about that we can do a better job at, but we keep doing the same things over and over again. I feel like I’m knocking my head against a wall.”

The agenda item received backlash at the April 22 regular board meeting after it was added to the agenda without any previous board discussion.

There are concerns by some board members about how agendas are put together.

Some of those same frustrations continued at the May 6 meeting.

The agenda, which included the tabled motion, was posted online and sent to board members at the end of last week.

However, additional information submitted by some board members – including three additional facilitator options – were not included.

That information was added Monday morning – less than 24 hours before the meeting.

“We took the time to get our information to you for consideration,” said Trustee Rhonda Sitnikau. “We spent so much time talking about consideration of additional facilitators (at last month’s meeting). This information was not put into the agenda, and I’m still not sure why.”

Board President Brenda Warren said the missing information on the agenda was a mistake and not intentional.

“I’ve admitted I made a mistake and I think at this point we aren’t going to accomplish anything by rehashing that, so I think we need to make a decision and move forward,” Warren said.

Sitnikau said she was not comfortable voting on an agenda item that wasn’t made available to the public.

“I’m considering taking action on something that the public wasn’t noticed properly of,” Sitnikau said. “It’s not the board who is paying for the facilitator, it’s the public that’s paying for it. I’m going to be consistent, reliable and a person of my word. I followed the process – the public didn’t have this information until (Monday). I’m not voting on this.”

All seven board member are in favor of looking for outside guidance, but some are frustrated with the selection process.

“I don’t feel like everyone’s voice at this table is included,” Shelton said. “It is troublesome, and I’ll continue to use that word, that this information was not on (the agenda), especially because the conversation two weeks ago was pretty clear and robust of what the board was looking for.”

Board members ultimately agreed to meet next Monday in a special meeting to interview prospective facilitators.

The board is in somewhat of a time crunch because the money in the professional development fund, which will be used to pay for the facilitator, is available to be spent through June.

“We need to learn to work well together, we need to learn to disagree in a civil manner and we need be able to function as a board to lead this district,” Mahoney said. “And we have to get it together or we aren’t going to attract anyone as a candidate for superintendent.”

The board will look to interview four facilitators – Drew Howick of Howick Associates, Daniel Terrio, ToP Facilitation Training and Trisha Huizenga.

All information on the four perspective facilitators will be available to the public prior to the May 13 meeting.

The board plans to vote on which facilitator or facilitators to hire following the interviews.

“If we’re going to bring in a board consultant, I want to make sure that we all know what we are trying to get out of that,” said Trustee Eric Vanden Heuvel.

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