Nobody’s perfect, but the Bend-La Pine Schools is either sneaky or sloppy.
On Tuesday night, the school board unanimously approved pay raises and health insurance benefits for district staff. Teachers will get 3% raises for the next two years. Some other school staff get slightly more. The district is also going to contribute $45 more to employee health insurance plans in 2019-20 and $50 more in 2020-21.
What did the school district tell the public about that anticipated vote on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting?
The agenda and attachment said only this: “Approval of Contracts: BEA, OSEA, Confidential, Administrator & Supervisor.” Those initials are for the unions — the Bend Education Association and the Oregon School Employees Association.
The district provided no details. The proposed contracts were not attached. There was no elaboration of what changes were in the contracts. No justification for any changes. Not even a hint that they involved increases in spending. And no explanation of what they would cost the district.
The purpose of Oregon’s public meetings law is to require government to let the public know what it is doing. There’s little doubt that the district’s agenda technically complied with the law. But the sneaky or sloppy way to undermine the public’s right to know is to not include any details about an upcoming decision, leaving the public functionally in the dark.
When we asked Tuesday why the contracts weren’t included with the agenda, Superintendent Shay Mikalson sent us the BEA and OSEA contracts with the new language in them. It was still not clear how much money was involved.
Why should the public have to ask for details about a vote the school board is taking that will increase district spending now and in future years? It should not. The school board should demand the public is more fully informed about the decisions it makes in advance or they don’t belong as representatives of the public’s interests.
Anything else is sneaky or sloppy.