School board members held a brainstorming session during Monday’s retreat for short- and long-term improvement ideas for the district.
Many ideas related to rebuilding trust and increasing transparency following the resignation of former Superintendent Rod Thompson amid a police investigation into possible misuse of district credit cards, also known as P-cards or purchase cards.
“I want something relative to our P-card process, something to inspect it and validate that the issues were very localized to restore trust,” School Board member Reggie Bowerman said during the retreat.
Assistant Superintendent John Bezek also suggested a check-out system, rather than allowing employees to carry around a card at all times.
School Board Chairman Scott Swanson said the process could be outsourced to a firm that deals specifically in P-cards and payrolls.
“If P-cards and payroll is a distraction and we aren’t able to get our arms wrapped around that, maybe we need to consider getting good at some things and outsourcing some things,” Swanson said.
School district employees who have P-cards could also be evaluated to see if having a district credit card was actually necessary in certain instances.
Superintendents should also have a standardized process for evaluation, regardless of who is filling the position, Hallett said.
The board proposed creating a five-year budget plan and maintaining checks and balances. The board also emphasized creating an open environment of communication. Swanson said there isn’t a clear system for a staff member to report a grievance when they see it.
“I wonder if some concerns haven’t come to light because there isn’t something to hitch your wagon to,” Swanson said. “Things don’t have to wait to the point of becoming a grievance to come to light.”
Board member Shawn Hallett said surveys could be done which would be conducted periodically to make sure staff members feel safe and happy within the district and hear any “ideas, thoughts, or concerns.”
Swanson said it’s essential staff members feel their jobs are safe when reporting an issue.
“We have to make it safe for people to come to us when they feel something is wrong,” Swanson said.
In addition, ideas were suggested for opening up communication across boards and staff, increasing school board visibility in the district, hiring firms to do multiple audits to make sure everything is functioning correctly, have school board evaluations conducted by an independent party and rebuilding trust with the community.
“There’s opportunity across this entire district to get better at stuff,” Swanson said.