Only have a minute? Listen instead
McALLEN — A proposed McAllen school board policy that stirred up discussion regarding the number of board members required to place an item on the agenda failed to pass but resulted in other changes.
School board President Debbie Crane Aliseda proposed a policy change to require at least two board members to place an item on the agenda. Current board policy states only one trustee can request an item to be placed on meeting agendas.
The proposal was first read at a board meeting on Oct 30. At Monday’s meeting, the policy failed with a 5-1 vote with Aliseda the only member voting for the change. Trustee Elizabeth Kittlemen was not in attendance to vote.
The item drew several concerns on the proposed change and other parts of the policy.
Aliseda said a reason as to why she wanted the change in policy is to stop “unreasonable things being put on the agenda.”
She added that a sudden request to place an item makes staff stop what they’re doing to work on it.
“You could be going 100 miles an hour in this direction and you have one trustee that could be asking for 20 things at every meeting and administration has to stop and go this direction and work on something,” Aliseda said. “Only to come to the board meeting and realize that nobody has any interest in it other than one person.”
She said there are ample opportunities such as a committee meeting or workshops, and that board meetings should be to “focus on to move this district forward” with quick and concise voting.
The biggest opponent to the change was board Vice President Sam Saldivar Jr.
“The First Amendment to us does not stop when we get elected,” Saldivar said during the meeting. “We have an individual right to express our thoughts. More importantly, I looked at board training for boardsmanship one on one and it talks about the individual board member having a voice and bringing matters before the board for discussion.”
He said keeping the current policy of just one board member requesting an item is the best option moving forward and leaves a legacy for future members to have a voice.
Trustee Sofia Pena also prefers keeping it to one person who can place agenda items.
“What’s reasonable to you may not be reasonable to somebody else and … If nobody wants to discuss it, it dies,” Pena said. “And so I have to agree with trustee Saldivar … we should be able to [request an item on the agenda] without having to find somebody else who thinks it may or may not be reasonable.”
Toward the end of the discussion for the policy change, with most of the board in agreement to keeping the policy at one member, Aliseda appeared frustrated when interpreting Saldivar’s last comment.
“Point of order madam president, you don’t have a right to stop a person from speaking,” Saldivar said.
“You’ve already spoken,” Aliseda replied.
“You don’t have a right to stop a person from speaking. I’m sorry, you don’t. You don’t have that authority,” Saldivar quipped.
Allowing Saldivar to finish his discussion, he said, “You brought up a point that was not true. I wasn’t going to say it that way but I have not known in the 14-plus years that I’ve been here that an item that got put on the agenda that should not have been on there for discussion.”
During the discussion, Saldivar also suggested what is causing the board issues at times is having the deadline to request something on the agenda just four days before preparing the budget.
The board policy stated a trustee could request an item on the agenda four days before the superintendent and board president meet to finalize an agenda meeting.
Saldivar, doing some research, said before the four-day deadline, it used to be nine days. He suggested the policy be changed back to the nine days to alleviate the sudden workload and allow board members time to know the agenda item if there is a last minute request to place something on the agenda.
With a motion to change from four calendar days to nine from Saldivar, it passed with a 6-0 vote.