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What goes on at Board Meetings?

| Leo Belman | lbelman20@dtechhs.org | March 4, 2020 |

Board meeting late at night. Photo by Leo Belman

On February 19th, the d.tech board convened in the staff room for a meeting, which are held on Wednesdays monthly. As board meetings are where a lot of important decisions about d.tech get made, it is important to know a bit about what goes on during them. It is also important to note that most of the school board meetings are open to the public, and their dates and agendas are published on the Design Tech website here.

There are nine members on the school board, eight of whom were present at the meeting, and three representatives for d.tech. The representatives are Executive Director Ken Montgomery, Director of Business Operations and Facilities Hanan Holloway and senior and Student Representative Jemma Schroeder. Notable members include Board President Mark Kuperschmid, who is in his final year, Board Secretary Lija McBride, parent representative Paul Appleby, who was not in attendance during the February meeting, and our very own Math Teacher David Groat, who is serving as the staff representative. You can find out more about the board members at designtechhighschool.org/board.

The meeting started at 4:45 pm, with a call to order and attendance. There is a required quorum of five members to even have a meeting at all. Luckily, there were 11 present. Proceedings appeared at first to be very formal, with the need for a member to introduce the agenda as a motion, and then have others vote on whether to approve said agenda. The formality mostly disappeared as the meeting continued, with members talking freely to each other and making little jokes during discussion, which helped to alleviate the somewhat stress-inducing vibe that was felt strongly during the first few minutes. 

Much of the meeting was focused on topics discussed in the d.Brief also sent out by Montgomery on February 19th. For instance, the first item on the agenda was a financial update. Board members were given a packet which was presented by representatives of EdTec, a self-proclaimed “charter school specialist” company that, among other related services, handles back-office work for d.tech. The representatives, Client Manager Eric Noll and Business Manager Madhulikha Muppidi, went over d.tech’s current and projected financial standing and analyzed the reasons for those results. 

During the presentation and the ones succeeding it, there was a lot of discussion about the information presented, and of ways to move forward in a beneficial direction for the school. These conversations were much more casual than the formality at the start of the meeting suggested, but generally board members seemed to be more comfortable with that style, in addition to it feeling more “d.tech.”

The next item was presented by Montgomery, about changes coming to d.tech in the next year, most of which will be officially announced during the March 4th community meeting. He was shocked by the response to CBL, and worried that our culture is very different than it originally was. Montgomery also mentioned how he has heard many seniors being nostalgic about Rollins Road and feeling like the culture was left behind there. While he is not convinced that Rollins is what made d.tech’s culture what it was, Montgomery has decided to try to shift us back closer to our roots. He had drafted various changes to intersession, such as reintegrating d.lab into the normal day, and perhaps removing the final intersession of the year. Montgomery felt that it will help us think a lot more about design thinking during the entire year, as opposed to doing “two week sprints.” The only problems brought up were about the changes to the bell schedule, and noting that just like CBL, which looked good on paper to the board, this idea might not work in practice as well. 

To these proposals, Groat gave feedback on behalf of the staff, saying that he at least feels very excited and positive about the changes, since “it really cuts me to the bone when a student tells me that d.tech is just a normal school.” 

The two final things were Schroeder giving a quick update about the success of several sports teams at d.tech, and then a conversation about the future of board proceedings. There was a question of whether to hold monthly or bi-monthly meetings, but it was tabled for next time. Since the board president, Kuperschmid, and several others’ terms are expiring at the end of the 19-20 year, there was talk of who will fill the opening positions. Montgomery said, “I email three people a week to be on the board, and five people for funding.” 

The meeting adjourned early, spanning just a bit more than two hours. The next one is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th.  

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