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School board postpones vote on recess policy

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – A vote on the Green Bay school district’s wellness policy will have to wait.

School board members voted 5-1 to postpone the vote to a special board meeting Monday, March 2.

Trustees sent the policy back to the Wellness Committee following their Feb. 3 meeting to discuss additional recommendations brought forward by Trustee Kristina Shelton.

Those suggestions looked to strengthen the language around taking away recess as a punishment.

The Wellness Committee met on Wednesday, Feb. 12, to discuss the additional suggestions, and brought forward their feedback in a comparison document at the Monday, Feb. 17, meeting.

Thoughts from the committee varied. The document included regular text, bolded text and bolded red text.

Shelton was a member of the Wellness Committee and was at the Feb. 12 meeting when the additional language was discussed. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, she was unable to attend the Feb. 17 regular board meeting, and wasn’t able to give her thoughts on the committee’s feedback.

Her absence, and the absence of a new policy document which included the language changes without having to make dozens of amendments, prompted the board to postpone the vote to the March 2 meeting.

“It’s important that because Kristina is not here, we should definitely hold this until March,” said Trustee Rhonda Sitnikau.

Vicki Bayer, associate superintendent of preK-16 programs, wasn’t comfortable speaking for Shelton, but said she believed Shelton “was under the assumption that if you were to take a look at the committee recommendations it would require a number of amendments, and her preference would be to avoid that and bring back a whole different updated document for the board to consider.”

Board Vice President Andrew Becker was in agreement.

“To look at the committee feedback from Feb. 12, and combine that with the committee language and the consideration – there would be a dozen amendments,” he said. “And some of the committee feedback is unclear. I think when I talked to her (Shelton) earlier today, the hope was that there would be something where rather than nitpicking here or trying to wordsmith it here, that all of the feedback would be consolidated into a final product, that would be less contentious.”

Shelton took to social media apologizing for her absence.

“My apologies for not being able to attend this evening’s school board meeting,” she wrote on her public board member Facebook page Monday night. “I unexpectedly became ill right before the meeting and needed to head home. Thanks to my fellow board members for facilitating the recess agenda item. I’ll be working with district admin to bring forward a revised recess policy in the next month.”

There was some murmuring from the audience, which included members of the wellness committee, during the board’s discussion on the item.

Some were frustrated with what they saw as a lack of trust of teachers by the school board, and the focus on one board member’s thoughts on the topic.

“I would like you guys to trust the teachers that are working for you each and every day,” said Megan Carlson, a teacher at Leonardo da Vinci school. “We are trusted with the academic growth of our students every single day. We are trusted with the social and emotional well-being of our students. We are trusted with the safety of our students every single day. Trust that the teachers, who put their hearts and souls into this job, will seek what is best for each student in every situation. Trust that the teachers know how important recess is for students, especially the most challenging. Trust that teachers are not going to take away a full 30-minute recess as a first choice punishment for their students.”

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