MASB Spending Debated by School Board

A motion to renew membership in the Michigan Association of School Boards caused tension at the board table.

In April, some questioned why a school board with so many big issues to solve would allow itself to be distracted over small-change issues like the cost of training.

In July, resolved and just a stone's throw away from wiping out its structural deficit, the board still finds itself squabbling over MASB membership.

The board of education voted 5-2 to renew its membership with the organization, a non-profit association that provides training, guidance, data and lobbying for approximately 600 of the state’s school boards. The cost of renewing in the MASB is $6,690.

Trustees Lisa Slawson, Chuck Lesch, Craig Hoeft, Amy Cattell and Todd Carter voted to renew. Trustees David Zimmer and David Holden voted against renewing.

The issue rekindled some of the tension the board saw in April, when Board President Slawson argued for a moratorium on district spending on MASB training after Slawson and Cattell expressed surprise that Zimmer had racked up over $1,000 in MASB training exercises since January. At the next meeting in April, , providing numbers that showed other school board members had run up similar expenses in MASB training.

At the July 10 meeting, when the issue was brought up, Zimmer asked if the “spending moratorium” was still in place.

Slawson said a moratorium was in place until the end of the year, but that it only affected MASB training. Zimmer said it was his recollection that the moratorium was on all MASB spending. Cattell and Carter agreed with Slawson.

Zimmer asked Patti Waltz, executive assistant to the superintendent, to read her minutes from the April meeting.

“The recommended motion was to suspend any and all spending on MASB activities, mileage reimbursement, or any other reimbursement in discretionary spending for board members effective immediately until further notice,” said Waltz, reading the motion from the minutes of the first April meeting.

Slawson called the vote.

Following the meeting, Holden said while it wasn’t much money he thought the district should hold the line on MASB spending since the school employees just gave back millions in concessions.

Assistant Superintendent Steven Laatsch told the board the MASB provides the district with a solid network for policy advice, employee relations information, and facts and figures about school districts from across the state.


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