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School Board Votes to Keep Administrative Assistant Position

Current assistant is retiring; board discussed the need for the position.

The Board of Education of the voted 5-1 to retain the position of adminstrative assistant to the board of education.

Board Director Rick Salamon was the lone vote against keeping the position. Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was finishing the 2012 legislative session in Jefferson City and did not make it to Thursday's meeting. 

Charlotte Tatum, the current board assistant, is retiring this summer. She reports to the board of education. 

According to the district's job description, the administrative assistant is "responsible for attending all Board meetings, posting public notice of all Board meetings,  preparing agendas, recording minutes, coordinating Board correspondence and responding to Sunshine Law requests." 

Salamon said while he had the highest regard for Tatum, he didn't feel the position was critical in a district University City's size.

"I don't think a district of our size warrants a full-time position," he said. "Very few school districts have someone devoted to the board of education."

A few of the districts that have a full-time or part-time employee designated to assist the board of education include the City of St. Louis, Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts. Other districts have an employee record meeting minutes and act as board secretary.

Board Director Tom Peters objected to the issue being discussed in open forum and said personnel issues should be discussed in executive session. Salamon disagreed, noting that the board wasn't discussing personnel, but a position. 

New Board Director John Clark said the role of the superintendent and the school board can be adversarial at times and having an impartial employee who works for the board could be advantageous.

Board members spoke of their desire to have the position filled before Tatum retires, allowing her to train whomever replaces her.

The essentential qualifications for the position are as follows:

  • High School diploma, undergraduate degree preferred
  • Computer proficient and 60 CWPM
  • Successful clerical experience, preferably in an educational setting
  • Attention to detail, patience and the ability to work alternate hours
  • Excellent customer service etiquette and communication skills
  • Superior organization, interpersonal and communication skills
Gregory Pace May 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Thumbs up to Mr. Salamon for looking out for the taxpayer. Thumbs down to the rest of the board. I was puzzled by Mr. Clark's comment. The board and the administration will disagree from time to time. But those disagreements will be public as the sunshine laws of the state of Missouri apply. What secrets does Mr. Clark suppose a board secretary will have to keep?
John Clark May 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Thanks for the comment, Mr. Pace. I don't think I explained myself completely at the full meeting, so let me do so. Having taught and been a parent in districts where the administration and/or the board of education have become unpopular at certain times, I think having an employee who serves both the administration and the board can give the appearance of impropriety. If a citizen wishes to make an allegation to the board about the administration, for example, having to do so through an employee of that administration could give pause to that citizen, and cause them to wonder if their concerns got through to the board unfiltered. In other words, in good times, an administration employee could possibly fill this function, but in times of mistrust the public needs to know that the board works for them, and them alone. In my view, this question wasn't a matter of economics, but a matter of the proper separation of duties and accountability. If you don't ensure that this is set up properly now, when the time comes that the citizens need it, it won't be there, and we'll all suffer.
Gregory Pace May 22, 2012 at 10:52 PM
The city provides street address, phone number, and email address on its website for each council member. The school district provides street address and phone number on its website for each board member. Simply add email addresses and we can save the $70K or so we spend annually for a board secretary. No need to go through an intermediary when all contact information is available. Problem solved.

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