School Board approves committee members after some deliberation

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BELOIT — The School District of Beloit Board of Education approved its final list of people to serve on its ad-hoc academic achievement committee at its Tuesday meeting, after some debate about whether to add another business representative to the list.

Administration first submitted the following list of people to serve: board members Dennis Baskin and Kris Klobucar; Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning and Innovation Anthony Bonds; Director of Teaching Learning and Innovation Jacqueline Jolly, Executive Director of Student Services Emily Pelz; students Khiyah McDowell and Andrea Montes; parents Linda Hickman-Fair, Diep Phan, Vianka Chavez, Yazmin Garcia and Kendra Schiffman; Principals Betsy Schroeder, Brandye Hereford, Jennifer Fanning and Carol Campbell; Truancy Officer Fred Atlas; teachers Heidi Andre, Tim Vedra, Sharon Straub, Darla Jacobson, Shawn Petit and Christine Day; para professionals Teshonna Bennett and Nancy Victoriano; counselor Tyree Gamble;  Barbara Hickman; social worker LaShima Grosskopf; Erick Williams of Community Action; Beloit Public Library Director Nick Dimassis; William Flanagan; and Rick McGrath, owner of Resonate Web Marketing.

The board then voted to add two names — nurse Traci Brockhus and psychologist Otha Williams.

However, board member Pam Charles attempted to make a friendly amendment to add another business leader to the list, John Wong of BMO Harris Bank. Wong had expressed interest in serving as a business leader and has children in the district.

The board had originally approved having two business leaders on the list. Administration had included Rick McGrath of Resonate Web Marketing as one business leader.

Board member Dennis Baskin said that Beloit Public Library Director Nick Dimassis could be considered as the second business representative, but Charles said he was listed as a community representative.

Baskin wouldn’t accept Charles’ friendly amendment to add Wong as another business leader. Next, Charles made an amendment to add Wong as the second business person and on a roll call vote. All board members voted against the motion to add Wong with the exception of Charles and vice president Nora Gard.

In an interview after the meeting, Baskin said the objection to adding Wong had nothing to do with Wong, but had to do with Pam Charles trying to manipulate the process to get who she wanted on the committee.

“The administration submitted its slate to the board and it was most appropriate we accept it and move forward. Mr. Wong and others will have the opportunity to give their input during the focus groups sessions of the ad hoc committee’s work,” Baskin said. “It’s unfortunate that Pam Charles wanted to personalize this with Mr. Wong, given that I don’t personally know him at all. This was about respecting what administration had put forward.”

Baskin said if the board opens the door to Wong being on the committee, it would have to open the door to the other 40-plus people who expressed an interest in the committee who weren’t selected.

“It’s important for us as board members to make sure we are not micromanaging the day-to-day operations of the district. That’s up to the administrators,” Baskin said.

In an interview after the meeting, Charles said denying Wong a position on the committee goes against what each of the board members claimed to support — the encouragement of community and parental involvement.

“Our schools have a direct effect on the overall health of the community and it’s important to get proper input from the business community. Mr. Wong is a businessman who grew up in Beloit, has children in the district, and volunteers in many capacities in our schools including teaching business skills to students. He would be an asset to this committee,” Charles said.

When asked about Baskin’s concerns about micro-management, she submitted the following statement:

“‘Micromanaging’ is not an accusation you throw at someone when you disagree with their suggestions. My motion and my argument in favor of adding Mr. Wong to the committee was in no way ‘micro-managing.’ I'm disappointed in hearing that Dr. Baskin has accused me of that, but I won't let it trouble me or intimidate me. I will continue to represent and serve my constituents, follow parliamentary procedure, and properly carry out my duties as a member of this board.”

After the meeting, John Wong told the Daily News the district was looking to fill two spots from the business community, but yet the administration came forward with only one of the volunteers.

“It begs the question, who is in charge. Is it the board or administration?” Wong said.

Wong also noted he’s spent hundreds of hours volunteering with the school district.

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