What is the ‘Consent Agenda’?

A reader asked me to elaborate a little on how the Consent Agenda is formed, so here is a response for those not familiar with the process. One big huge caveat – I am using information gleaned from previous board members, so it is entirely possible this process has changed.


First and foremost, we have the Board Policies which dictate how all this stuff happens:

270.17 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS – Board Meeting Procedure

The Board President is responsible for focusing the Board meeting agendas on appropriate content. The Superintendent shall prepare agendas in consultation with the Board President. The President shall designate a portion of the agenda as a consent agenda for those items that usually do not require discussion or explanation before Board action. Any Board member may request the withdrawal of any item under the consent agenda for independent consideration.
Items submitted by Board members to the Superintendent or the President shall be placed on the agenda. District residents may suggest inclusions for the agenda. Items not specifically on the agenda may still be discussed during the meeting.
The Superintendent shall provide a copy of the agenda, with adequate data and background information, to each Board member at least 48 hours before each meeting, except a meeting held in the event of an emergency. The meeting agenda shall be posted in accordance with Board policy 270.01, Types of Board Meetings.
The Board President shall determine the order of business at regular School Board meetings. Upon consent of a majority of members present, the order of business at any meeting may be changed.


It is my understanding that usually the Superintendent and the Board President sit down (either in person or email) and talk about agenda items early in the week. During this time also Board Members typically submit questions (I think they have up until Wednesday if they want a response by Friday). It is the Board President’s discretion which line-items appear under the “Action Agenda” versus which ones go to the “Consent Agenda”. As stated in the Policy, Consent Agenda items are typically things that have already been discussed and exposed as an Information or Action item in a previous Board Meeting. Sometimes the Consent Agenda will contain items that look mundane or trivial day-to-day stuff and it makes sense that they do not require discussion. On at least one occasion that I can personally remember, a board member has moved to alter a line-item from the Consent to the Action agenda during the course of a board meeting. After the Agenda is set, Tammy Sowers prepares, by Friday, a “board packet” (a comprehensive stack of information, previously all printed out in thick folders), generates the PDF version of the Agenda and posts it all on boarddocs. The public only gets to see a subset of the information posted. In accordance with the Open Meetings Act (OMA), the agenda is posted 24 non-weekend hours prior to the meeting.


Just to make it clear, a “Consent Agenda” is one by which the board votes for the entire block en masse. In all other agendas, the board hears, discusses and votes on each item line by line.

quick updates

I have been offline a bit lately and several things have been happening. I do not expect to cover all of them, but here are some highlights that have hit my mailbox:

Two twitter chats, today and tomorrow

The Champaign County Economic Development Corporation (@CHCEDC) and Champaign Unit #4 Schools (@Unit4Schools) will kick off a new series of Twitter chats during the first week of August that cover various topics relevant to the District and Champaign County. The first two chats—scheduled for Tuesday, August 6 from 4-5 p.m. and Wednesday, August 7 from 10-11 a.m.—will focus on all things back-to-school and answer questions on topics such as enrollment, bus schedules, physical exams/forms, food service, the new District website, and anything else participants would like to ask. Use hashtag #AskUnit4.


Part 2 of the Board Retreat (concluding the first one in June)

The Board and the Administration completed rolling out the 6 goals for the Superintendent this year:

  1. The Superintendent will foster high academic achievement, wellness, and well-being among all learners in a safe, supportive environment.
  2. The Superintendent will align the District’s priorities and resources through a community-involved planning process implemented through focused action plans with regular progress reports.
  3. The Superintendent will retain, hire, and support highly qualified faculty and staff that will best serve the District’s diverse student population.
  4. The Superintendent will effectively and efficiently engage parents and other community stakeholders resulting in strong partnerships.
  5. The Superintendent will leverage the strength of the District’s diverse population to create a rich academic and social environment in each of the District’s schools.
  6. The Superintendent will revitalize, build, and maintain facilities that are safe, sustainable and allow equitable access to programming services across the District.


The goals we have set are ambitious, but I am confident that we have the talent and dedication to rise to the challenges that lie ahead. Below you will find each goal and a description of how we will work to achieve it. As your Superintendent, I will work with each of you to ensure our collective success.


CSUF received a $100k gift for CUScholars



eToys and entrepreneurship

Kerris Lee was officially sworn to the board last night; he brings a bit of experience with the eToys program at Kenwood via the MTSE (Mathematics, Science and Technology Education) office at the University. He has a passion to instill entrepreneur skills in students of all ages, and I am excited to learn more about his involvements at the University, Parkland and Unit 4.

Extension of Superintendent contract: email to the Board

Here is an email I just sent to the Board and Dr. Wiegand:


Good evening,

Meg Dickinson reported in today’s newspaper that there is an agenda item to extend the superintendent’s contract from 2016 to 2017.
I am including Dr. Wiegand on this email because I think she has done a fantastic job; I have mentioned this publicly and privately on several occasions. I have absolutely no doubts that she is deserving and that her performance has been stellar.
However, allow me to remind you of two previous contract extensions, also covered by the News Gazette:
Granted, Culver wasn’t Wiegand. Totally different ball game. But look at what the board members at the time said:
“With the election six weeks off, and three board seats up, this was the wrong time to extend his contract,” he said. “The incoming board has lost any control. … It kind of negates the whole point of an election to a certain extent.”
“The three board members voting against the contract extension did so because they don’t agree with having a contract extended beyond three years, not because of any dissatisfaction with the superintendent’s performance, they said.”

I urge you to hold off on voting in favor of this contract extension. Again, this has more to do with giving freshly voted-in board members (next month) a chance to have some say and not “locking them in”. There is time to extend the superintendent contract after April – no need to do it now.
Finally, I have the highest respect for Dr. Wiegand. I think she is doing an awesome job and I am personally very glad we have her leading the team. My message this evening has absolutely nothing to do with her role as superintendent.

Talks with Dr. Wiegand and Sue Grey

Wednesday I had the privilege of chatting with Superintendent Dr. Wiegand and Board President Sue Grey, in two different venues. On both occasions my goal was simply to learn; now my challenge is clearly communicating what I learned.

I met with Dr. Wiegand at the Mellon Center. Aside from the construction and relatively unmarked temporary entrance, the mood inside the building was obviously somber. I had set up an appointment with Dr. Wiegand prior to the events on Tuesday, and told her that if she was not in a mood to talk about her thesis, I totally understood. But we decided to move forward with our plans.

In regards to her research and findings, she confirmed that, in a oversimplified nutshell kind of way, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. I asked her about what provided the impetus for the topic in the first place, and Dr. Wiegand relayed a bit of what was on her mind at the time, that she was concerned about the academic performance of certain groups and how she had observed that academic teams seemed to have a positive effect. On top of that, she also noticed how hard it is to push change through at times. So she wanted to study the process of “reform” and try to find specific obstacles.

Much of our conversation Read the rest of this entry »

Another conversation starter: Carrie Busey

I usually try not to advertise too strongly that I have a vested interest at Carrie Busey; at least, not on this blog. I think it is more because I want the focus of this space to cover many different aspects of Unit 4. Having said that, there is some exciting stuff happening in and around Carrie Busey. It has to do with what to call the new school building in Savoy.


I realize some community folks still have some residual negativity towards a “south of University” school being built in what some consider a middle- to upper-middle-class neighborhood. Still others are like “Savoy? You mean those [insert adjective] folks who voted against the MTD and don’t want to pay any taxes?”. And still, “Savoy? Where’s that?”  Read the rest of this entry »

Meet your new Superintendent

Wow, that didn’t take long:



Granted, it is only 10:08 am and the news release is slated for 2:pm. But we all know what they are going to say. This is quite shocking. Dr. Wiegand went from not submitting her application to submitting it after the deadline and flip-flopping on her decision to this. As my head is spinning, I am trying to gather my thoughts about this whole “transparency” thing. School Exec Connect said the BOE was being very transparent initially. But there are some gaping black holes, especially surrounding Dr. Wiegand’s application.

Please note that I am not saying that Dr. Wiegand is a bad choice – in fact, I would say she is the best choice out of the 4 we have (had). I just don’t like the circumstances around this whole thing.



Wednesday at Houlihans: update

So first off, no “official” gathering next week (Dec 21). But don’t let that stop you from reinforcing the habit of dropping by at 11:30 on a whim. 🙂

This week (Dec 14th), we continued to have some excellent discussion. Again, I fear I am not going to do justice to all that was said, so I am hoping (again) that others pipe up and share their thoughts. We had with us a Champaign Council rep, an EEE Committee member, a Prairie Fields Homeowners’ Association BOD rep, myself and Chuck Jackson. Looking back at that list, I am realizing that all those folks wear multiple hats as well.

Wanna hear what we talked about?  Read the rest of this entry »

Questions for Dr. Darryl Taylor

  1. What did you take away from your experience with Rodney Estvan and giving your special ed kids the alternative test in 2009?
  2. Since hindsight is 20/20, what, if anything, would you have done differently since taking on the mantle of Superintendent for Lincoln ESD 156 in 2007?
  3. Please provide some examples of how you have directed day-to-day operations of the District.
  4. Under your leadership at ESD 156, what goals (short-, midterm-, longterm- ) were you immediately responsible for?
  5. Everybody makes mistakes. Please provide an example of your greatest learning moment in the past 4 years.
  6. If you were to be chosen by the Unit 4 BOE to be the next Superintendent, how do you intend to deal with reorganization in the Administrative office given that several key members of the previous Administration will have left by that time?
  7. What key challenges faced ESD 156 prior to your start as Superintendent, and how exactly did you work with the District to address those challenges?
  8. Based on whatever research you have done so far, in your opinion what are the top 2 or 3 issues facing Champaign Unit 4 today, and how do you intend to tackle them?


Questions for Steven Cobb?

If you have questions you would like the BOE or the Community Search Committee to ask of Steven Cobb, you might want to get them in ASAP.


Some questions I have:

  1. Mr. Steven Cobb has been in the Fort Wayne area since 1987 and has only recently (relatively speaking) stepped into the Assistant Superintendent role. Earlier this year he tried for the Superintendent position in Lee County. What are his motivations? Why does he want to climb to Superintendent?
  2. What about Mr. Steven Cobb makes him more attractive than, for instance, someone with a Ed.D after their name and 4 years of experience as a Superintendent?
  3. Give some examples of thinking “out of the box” in your career.


I would love to hear what the responses are. 🙂


Superintendent Candidates: overall impression so far

After reading, thinking and writing about the 4 candidates, I am left with the following.


  1. Disappointment that we do not have a stronger pool to choose from. I tamper that with the fact that we may yet find a gem, a diamond in the rough. I have to hope that we will. I have to hope that what little I know about the candidates (all 4 of them) is only a sign that there is more depth to them. I am told this was the case with Dr. Malito when he was hired.
  2. Not one of the candidates even mentioned the Board of Education. Did it slip past my eyes? It’s great that the candidates all see a Superintendent position as being involved in and with the community. But the fact of the matter is that the Board hires (and fires) the Superintendent, and for all practical purposes, the BOE is the middle-man between the Superintendent and the public.
  3. The late addition of Dr. Wiegand is certainly interesting. I am torn how I think about this. Is she being groomed? Was she holding back for fear of finding stronger candidates in the pool? Does it even matter what I think? (Probably not, but… this is my blog….).


If we look at the profile that the BOE came up with, I would venture to say that perhaps Dr. Darryl Taylor best matches the profile, with Dr. Wiegand coming in at a close second. If I look at what I want (my own profile), I am scratching my head – none meet the high standards that Dr. Malito has set. I am sorry, but I can’t get that out of my head.


Mr. Jamar Brown has been making it clear he wants to know about any questions that we the community have. My brain is too fried right now to further think about questions. But perhaps by sleeping on this, I’ll come up with something. 🙂