Let's correct Ms. Luker's statements that the New Hartford Board of Education always follows the Open Meetings Law.
Concerned Citizens has been videotaping all New Hartford Central School board meetings for several months now and those meetings are available on our YouTube channel.
It was at Concerned Citizens insistence that school board agendas and handouts, to include complete minutes of prior meetings, are now posted on the school’s website prior to all meetings. Before our intervention, all the public was given were school board summaries which are totally useless and not in keeping with the Open Meetings Law.
Furthermore, if Ms. Luker is so big on Open Meetings Law, why doesn't she speak up so that people in the audience can hear what she is saying. She has a habit of talking so low that most times our camera doesn't even pick up what she is saying. We have asked that a microphone be placed on the table, but we're told the school does not have money in their budget right now for such an item.
Regarding Mr. Nole’s contract extension…
As we already blogged, Mr. Nole had until December 31, 2013 to send a letter to the school board asking to extend his contract for an additional year; that is, instead of his contract ending in June 2015, it would end in June 2016.
Assuming that Mr. Nole did indeed send a letter to the board by the deadline, the board could have taken action in any one of three (3) meetings; January 14, February 4, and February 25.
However, they took no action until the February 25th meeting which was three (3) days prior to Nole’s contract deadline for an extension. Truth be known, it is our guess that Mr. Nole sent a letter to the board long before the December 31, 2013 deadline so there were several other meetings where the decision to extend his contract could have been discussed and voted on.
The question is why? Why did the New Hartford Central School Board wait until the last minute…
Particularly, if, as Ms. Luker stated in her guest editorial:
…the majority of the board believed that the continued success of our district – in light of recent changes in curriculum and upcoming changes in administrative personnel — would be best served by stability at the top. Superintendent Nole has successfully led this district through very difficult times and, with numerous challenges ahead, we felt that “staying the course” would be in the best interest of the citizens of New Hartford.Why did the board wait to approve the extension? Ms. Luker even states that “the majority of the board believed”. All that is needed is a majority vote. Ms. Luker wants us to believe that they had a majority vote, but they decided to not act on the extension until the bitter end. It just doesn't make any sense and certainly doesn't sound like a complete vote of confidence for Mr. Nole!
Concerned Citizens was standing outside the library when Ms. Soggs was helped into the room by Vice President Jadhon. It was obvious that Ms. Soggs was quite ill. Prior to the start of the meeting, we overheard Ms. Luker and other board members trying to figure out how to get a vote without a personal appearance. However, the Open Meetings Law does not permit voting in absentia.
Overall, the executive session lasted about an hour and ten minutes. However, Ms. Soggs was not ushered in until almost the end of the executive session. We do not believe that Ms. Soggs had much, if any, time to be part of the deliberative process that evening. It is our belief that she was merely brought in at the last minute to vote; probably because it was determined that the votes of the three (3) dissenting board members could not be changed no matter how long they continued with their executive session. Thus without Ms. Soggs' vote, Nole's contract would not have been extended.
Clearly, there is more to this story that isn’t being told to the public. New Hartford School Board President Luker is so arrogant that she probably does not even recognize the fact that the tone of her guest editorial is offensive to the taxpayers of New Hartford Central School.
Luker's seat is up for grabs this May. It’s time to send a message to the school board! There is still time to file your petition!