McAllen school board president proposes changing agenda policy

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McAllen school board president Debbie Crane Aliseda is seen during a meeting at on Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

McALLEN — A proposal by the McAllen school board president on placing agenda items was met with mixed response Monday night, including vocal disapproval from the vice president.

School board president Debbie Crane Aliseda requested the change in the board policy, which would require two board members to request that an item be added to the agenda for a meeting.

Current policy states any board member may request an item on the agenda.

During the meeting, Aliseda said she asked Todd Miller, assistant superintendent for Human Resources, to research policy from other school districts and said he found that most require two or even three board members to request an item on the agenda.

Aliseda added that in her 11 years on the board, she’s learned it takes a while to get an agenda item placed with the entire process taking up to a month.

The board president said her proposal would streamline the process by increasing communication between board members.

“It gives them a moment to pause and reflect and talk to a colleague and say, ‘Wait a minute, does this really need to be on the agenda in an official board meeting,’” she said.

Aliseda said placing agenda items can take up a lot of time from staffers.

“Can it be something that’s addressed with just a simple phone call, instead of taking staff’s time, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks to prepare something,” she said. “Is it something that can be handled sort of more casually if it doesn’t require board action?”

She added allowing one board member to request an item on the agenda suddenly also interferes if the board and staff have been working with one another.

“They’re all working in this avenue and then because one board member without, you know, consensus of others, they now have to stop everything they’re working on to go in different directions,” Aliseda said. “And after they’ve worked on that for two weeks, all that direction, the rest of the people might not even be in agreement with that.”

Board Vice President Sam Saldivar Jr. said at the meeting he would not support this and that the current policy and process works fine and is not an issue.

Saldivar cited times where one board member’s agenda item was not the consensus of the board and resulted in some kind of change.

“I can go down the list and there are many more … items that would never come before this board and (have) been acted upon for the benefit of this community if one person had been having to find a second person to agree,” Saldivar said.

He ended with saying that he is a big proponent and advocate of giving all board members the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Trustee Sofia Pena said she sees both sides of the argument.

“I think sometimes it’s important that it be on an agenda so that we have that opportunity to discuss,” Pena said. “It could be a board member that has an opinion that hasn’t spoken to any of the other board members. And it’s an opportunity to discuss whether it changes somebody’s opinion or not.”

No action was taken on the proposal.