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Meek defends BoE meeting attendance record

Board of Education Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek, at the Board’s retreat in July. There are no minutes online for the retreat and attendance is not factored into the account below.

The election is Nov. 5.

NORWALK, Conn. — Bryan Meek has attended 58.5% of full Norwalk Board of Education meetings in 2019, according to meeting minutes.

The rest of the results from a NancyOnNorwalk attendance taking for the 2017-19 term is not surprising: Erik Anderson has hardly been there and Bruce Kimmel has perfect attendance. Sarah LeMieux, Julie Corbett and Heidi Keyes have attended more than 90% of full Board meetings. Chairman Mike Barbis, who is unopposed in his drive for reelection, made it to 82.5% of Board meetings. Barbara Meyer-Mitchell and Mike Lyons have attended 85% of the meetings.

Meek, a Republican seeking reelection, attended 79.2% of 2017-18 Board meetings in the term. He states that he reviewed meetings via the Norwalk Public Schools YouTube channel when he couldn’t attend as they occurred.

“There were times during the busy season of tax where I would watch live or watch recorded,” he wrote Saturday. “Sometimes making myself available if a vote was needed.   I really didn’t keep track of it like you are. I was more focused on getting the job done that I was elected to do which by most measures was done.”

NancyOnNorwalk has historically checked attendance prior to an election. That includes checking attendance at Committee meetings, where much of the work is done.

 

 

 

Full Board meetings

Here is a list of stats for the 2018-19 term:

 

  • Erik Anderson: 10/41, 24.3% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 34/41, 82.5% attended
  • Julie Corbett: 40/41, 97.5% attended
  • Heidi Keyes: 36/41, 87.8% attended
  • Bruce Kimmel: 41/41, 100% attended
  • Sarah LeMieux: 39/41, 95% attended
  • Mike Lyons: 35/41, 85% attended
  • Bryan Meek: 29/41, 70% attended
  • Barbara Meyer-Mitchell: 35/41, 85.3% attended

 

From Nov. 21, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2018:

  • Erik Anderson: 9/24, 37.5% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 20/24, 83.3% attended
  • Julie Corbett: 24/24, 100% attended
  • Heidi Keyes: 20/24, 83.3% attended
  • Bruce Kimmel: 24/24, 100% attended
  • Sarah LeMieux: 24/24, 100% attended
  • Mike Lyons: 21/24, 87.5% attended
  • Bryan Meek: 19/24, 79.2% attended
  • Barbara Meyer-Mitchell: 20/24, 83.3% attended

 

2019:

  • Erik Anderson: 1/17 6% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 14/17, 82.3% attended
  • Julie Corbett: 16/17 94.1% attended
  • Heidi Keyes: 16/17 94.1% attended
  • Bruce Kimmel: 17/17, 100% attended
  • Sarah LeMieux:  15/17, 88.2 attended
  • Mike Lyons: 14/17, 82.3% attended
  • Bryan Meek: 10/17 58.8% attended
  • Barbara Meyer-Mitchell: 15/17 88.2% attended

 

Board members are volunteers. This attendance taking counts does not note when Board members attended by phone or were late.

 

 

DePalma replies to Meek remark

“My opponent has yet to attend one single meeting to see what might be going on,” Meek said. “Nor has she published any official platform. Is that newsworthy?”

Meek is being challenged by Democratic candidate Erica DePalma.

She wrote:

“Many parents in Norwalk are pointed to YouTube as a method of ‘attending’ Board meetings.  I have intentionally chosen to mimic this experience to identify usability gaps in our use of this medium.  As it stands, the experience is not user-friendly. It’s hours of content, likely being streamed over mobile devices at various bandwidths.  It also lacks the use of transcripts with corresponding timestamps, as well as keyword tagging. As a result, it’s difficult to search for topics, or quickly navigate to agenda items, or translate the transcripts into multiple languages. I look forward to collaborating with the larger team on improvements that will make this a viable communication platform for our Board. Additionally, I have attended (in person) forums and committee meetings such as the SPED Committee meeting that reviewed our CREC Report progress update, the NSPEDPAC meeting that reviewed the results of parent surveys, and the Healthier Start Forum.

“With regard to my platform, I’ve participated in four debates/forums alongside Mr. Meek and spoke extensively on my position on a wide range of topics.”

 

Committee attendance

Here are Committee stats, over the two year term:

Finance Committee

  • Chairman Bryan Meek: 12/12, 100% attended
  • Bruce Kimmel: 11/12, 91.6% attended
  • Mike Lyons: 4/12, 33.3% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 4/12, 33.3% attended

Facilities Committee

There were 16 Facilities Committee meetings, and only 15 have minutes available online.

  • Chairman Mike Barbis: 15/15, 100% attended
  • Heidi Keyes: 9/15, 60% attended
  • Bryan Meek: 12/15, 80% attended
  • Barbara Meyer-Mitchell: 11/15, 73.3% attended

 

Policy Committee

There were 19 Policy Committee meetings, and only 18 have minutes available online.

  • Chairwoman Heidi Keyes: 17/18, 94.44% attended
  • Erik Anderson: 2/18, 11.1% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 12/18, 66.6% attended
  • Julie Corbett: 18/18, 100% attended
  • Sarah LeMieux: 10/18, 55.5% attended

 

 

Curriculum Committee

There were 18 Curriculum Committee meetings, and only 17 have minutes available online.

  • Chairman Bruce Kimmel: 17/17, 100% attended
  • Erik Anderson: 4/17, 23.5% attended
  • Julie Corbett: 15/17, 88.23%
  • Sarah LeMieux: 6/17, 35.29%
  • Barbara Meyer-Mitchell: 15/17, 88.23%

 

Negotiations and Personnel Committee

There are 10 agendas online for the Negotiations and Personnel Committee. Four have minutes.

  • Chairman Mike Lyons: 4/4, 100% attended
  • Mike Barbis: 3/4, 75% attended
  • Sarah LeMieux: 3/4, 75% attended
  • Bryan Meek: 4/4, 100% attended

 

None of the agendas online are for the recent Norwalk Federation of Teachers negotiation, publicized by Barbis.

Lyons explained, “there are no minutes of meetings regarding collective bargaining negotiations as they are FOI-exempt.  We do post agendas and minutes of grievance hearings (non-exempt), though these are usually held in executive session.  So the bulk of Negotiations meetings (all of the union negotiations ones like with the NFT) are exempt, and no agendas or minutes are posted.’

During the 2018-19 school year he “ran 15 negotiation sessions of the Negotiations and Personnel Committee dealing with the various union contracts negotiated this year (all completed except the nurses),” he wrote.   “Since those were collective bargaining sessions they were FOI-exempt and no notices or minutes were prepared, but some of the sessions went past midnight and required tremendous time commitments from the committee members.”

“ We spent at least 100 hours in various meeting on the contracts this year,” Meek wrote.

 

Perspective on Finance Committee

There were no Finance Committee meetings in February, March and May of 2019, and none in February, March, April or May of 2018.

NancyOnNorwalk checked prior practice. In 2014, when Rosa Murray was chair, there was no meeting in January. There were meetings in February, March and April. In 2015, with Murray at the helm, there were meetings in February, April and May; the April meeting did not get a quorum, as Murray was the only member who attended.

In 2016, there was no meeting in January. There were meetings in February, March and May.

“Finance meeting meets as needed as do all other committees,” Meek wrote. “We work virtually on many items.”

 

Above and beyond

Some Board members attend the meetings of Committees they are not members of. Meyer-Mitchell has sat through seven of the 12 Finance Committee meetings, more than Lyons and Barbis, a 58.8% attendance rate for a non-member. Julie Corbett attended one. LeMieux is not listed as being in the Committee but attended six meetings in 2018.

Kimmel attended 12 of 18 Policy Committee meetings in the term. Meyer-Mitchell attended 10. Keyes is listed as attending one of the four Negotiations and Personnel Committee meetings. Kimmel also attended seven Facilities meetings.

11 comments

DrewT November 3, 2019 at 9:01 am

Maybe Bryan should start punching a time card for the countless hours of work that he has done for the BOE. The countless meetings and finances along with having a wife, 3 Kids and his own daily job. He has done amazing work over the years on the BOE and has much more to accomplish! He has amazing amounts of knowledge when it comes to numbers and has been a major reason why the BOE has surpluses for the last couple of years. He is a HUGE Asset to our City, BOE, Teachers and Students! We need him now more then ever given how badly of a financial mess the State is in. We will continue to loose funding from Hartford I’m sure fugues the Bullions In deficits the State has upcoming for the next few years. We will need his expertise navigating through the financial waters ahead. He has the experience and knowledge we MUST continue to have on the BOE. Vote Bryan Meek on Election Day!

Julie Corbett November 3, 2019 at 10:11 am

While attendance records are an extremely useful piece of information, our board policies permit the ability to call into committee and full board meetings. Attendance records should absolutely include any circumstances where members have called in. Many of us (myself included) have relied on the ability to still participate in committee and board meetings remotely while traveling for work or constrained by personal obligations.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Thanks Julie. There were several occasions where I watched the meetings live but didn’t call in because we had no votes at those meeting. It didn’t occur to me then that would give someone a nice headline. I could have called into most of the 7 meetings I missed out of the overall 60 odd meetings we had last year. I would also like to point out that our city charter actually only requires the board of education meet once a month. The last thing I’ll say on this, is I don’t think they actually counted the 3 day retreat that is pictured above. I took a vacation day from my job (which does require me to travel at times) to go to this.

Helen Demeris November 3, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Looks like Mr. Meek is too busy to serve in this role. It’s time for someone new to more reliably and fully represent District D. Our students and families deserve at least that much. I’ll be voting for Erica DePalma.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 8:02 pm

Helen, it’s fairly clear from your other posts that you were predetermined to vote a certain way for other reasons. I respect that. I also respect my opponent for her willingness to serve. I honestly would not be running if I didn’t think I could do the job. If my spouse was working full time there is no way I would be able to manage this and would not seek office. The job is too important. Whatever the outcome, I’m hopeful the next board will hire the best Superintendent for the job. It is extremely critical right now with the challenges facing the district and lack of funding and support from the one board member who is actually paid to attend meetings but attends much less than I do.

Bryan Meek November 3, 2019 at 8:10 pm

@TRS. Mr Anderson did not resign, but still contributed to our efforts behind the scenes while not in attendance at meetings due to scheduling conflicts. Full BOE meetings are important, but more of a dog and pony to the real work happening behind the scenes. Erik continued to contribute even if not in the public eye. He will be replaced this coming week by Sherrelle Harris, who I have had pleasure to serve with on the Board prior to this one. Erik will be missed and Sherelle will pick up where he left off.

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