Are there too many OPRF administrators sitting at the District 200 board table?
It’s a question the school board wants to address with administration.
The topic came up at the board’s policy committee meeting April 22. Dietra Millard, a member of the board who chairs its policy committee, broached the issue. She noted that the school’s search firm hired to find their superintendent observed the difference between OPRF and other districts.
Along with the seven elected members and the board clerk, the OPRF superintendent normally has a seat at the table. Other administrators, including the chief financial officer and human resources director, are also seated, as well as the president of the Faculty Senate and a representative of the student council.
“That is highly unusual, we discovered,” said Millard, except for having a student rep, as is the case in most other districts. “I want to propose to us that we seriously consider reducing the size of our table.”
One option, she noted, could involve having other administrators and the faculty leader seated in the audience. In other districts, the superintendent makes a request to invite other administrators to the table to discuss a specific agenda item, Millard said.
“A majority of them are present at the meeting but they usually do not sit at the table; and they are available but they are usually sitting, typically, in a corner of the audience. And sometimes they are told that they don’t have to be there.”
Before any changes are made, Millard asked administrators to discuss the matter and provide the board feedback. Only the monthly board meeting-held the third Thursday of the month-would be affected by any change, Millard said. The board’s various monthly committee meetings would be unaffected.
She added that having fewer people seated at their board table might help keep meetings shorter and more organized.
James Hunter, president of the OPRF Faculty Senate, however, countered that having additional people at the table had nothing to do with sometimes long and disorganized meetings. That, he maintained, was because of how the current board itself functions. Hunter also recalled that previous boards suggested opening up the board table to others.
“The reason why you have the table established the way that you did was for symbolic reasons. When you didn’t have administrators available, you couldn’t get questions answered,” he said. “So instead they said let’s just have them be a part of the table to help facilitate those discussions…the faculty was invited as a means to show some kind of partnership with the board.”
Hunter said “pushing” administrators away from the table may send a message that their input is not that important.
Principal Nate Rouse, who has a regular seat at the board table, said he likes that administrators have a regular place at the table. Another plus, he noted, was having administrators available at the meeting to offer their insights.
Millard noted that administrators could still participate in discussions even if seated in the audience. She also noted that Oak Park’s elementary school board does not follow the high school’s pattern. In Dist. 97, other administrators are seated either with the audience or in their own section near the board table.