Colonial School Board Meeting Reveals Rift in All Democratic Board

Last night’s meeting of the Colonial School Board revealed a likely irreparable rift between members of the Colonial School Board. This article won’t cover the substance of the proposed policy, but will focus on the very open split between members of the school board.

By a 5-4 vote, Board Members voted to move a “Responsible Contractors” policy forward for another review by the Policy Committee. From the Policy Committee, it can be voted on to send back to the full board for a second review. From there it can be voted on and adopted.

A “Responsible Contractors” policy would create a set of standards needed to bid on construction projects undertaken by the school district. Those for it claim that it provides assurances for safety conditions, skilled labor and the completed product. Those against it claim that specific aspects of the policy would limit the number of companies that can bid and can raise the cost of a project.

The Colonial School Board is made up of nine Democrats. Those who voted to move the “Responsible Contractors” policy forward are School Board President Felix Raimondo, Vice President Leslie Finegold and members Eunice Franklin-Becker, Jennifer Dow and Adam Schupack. Members Mel Brodsky, Susan Moore, Cathy Peduzzi and Rosemary Northcutt voted against it.

The four that voted against it expressed throughout the meeting that they only did so because they felt that they were not being provided enough time and information to make an informed decision. A motion made by Cathy Peduzzi to table the proposed policy was defeated by a vote of 5-4.

Above is the video from the entire meeting. Over the next day or so we will publish highlights. Union members and the public came out ready to speak during public comment.

The most interesting aspect out of all of this is you have Mel Brodsky, who voted for a similar policy when it was proposed four years ago, vote against it now due to his expressed view that it is being rushed and without the opportunity to speak to experts on the issue.

Peduzzi pointed out that time isn’t a factor in getting a “Responsible Contractors” policy in place. The next construction projects won’t be put out to bid until the spring of 2019.

As previously reported, Board President Felix Raimondo initiated the creation of this policy directly with solicitor (and campaign donor) Michael Clarke. Peduzzi, who is a member of the Policy Committee, stated last night that she was not aware of the policy being proposed until she saw it on the agenda for the Policy Committee that had been uploaded to the school district’s website. Raimondo also did not seek input from other members of the board on authorizing Clarke to do work that is going to result in an invoice.

In the end, Brodsky, Peduzzi and Moore state that they feel disrespected by the School Board’s leadership and new Board members. Northcutt didn’t express her opinion other than to vote with them.

Going out on a limb was Superintendent Dr. Michael Christian. As the meeting grew more contentious, he advised that due to the issue splitting the Board so closely (5-4), that the issue should be tabled. Board President Felix Raimondo rebuked Christian and told him it was fine for the Board to disagree.

The collective refrain for those in support of advancing the policy was that there was plenty of time to collect information and learn more about the impact of the policy.

Left – State Senator Daylin Leach endorses the RCO. Right – Jason Salus (blue shirt) in the hallway outside the meeting.

Adding to the circus were State Senator Daylin Leach (within the district he represents Plymouth), Union spokesperson Frank Keel (he had signs, which he didn’t hand out, that said “Do the Responsible Thing”) and Montgomery County Treasurer and Area Leader for the Democratic Party Jason Salus (who was doing who knows what in the hall outside the meeting).

In the end the there was no resolution to the mistrust that has now developed. Whether this spills over and impacts the district in other areas is to be seen.

More to come.

FYI, reference to all the captions to the top photo can be found in the video.


Photos: Top photo of Colonial School from Colonial School Board. Captions added by MTTC. Daylin Leach by MTTC. Jason Salus provided by reader.