The Tim Alexander school board era began last night with a whimper.
Alexander, the man who spent the first 10 months of 2013 finding fault with every school board decision past, present and future and demanding Octorara sell buildings and cut taxes, sat quietly as Board President Lisa Bowman went out of her way to welcome him to the board.
Before the start of the monthly work session Alexander joined returning board members Sam Ganow, Nelson Stolzfus and Hank Oleyniczak as they placed their hands on the Holy Bible and received the Oath of office administered individually by District Justice Nancy Gill.
After receiving the oath of office, Alexander and the three newly reelected board members took their seat at the board table.
To the surprise of some, Alexander joined the other seven board members present (board member Leon Lapp was absent) to unanimously vote in favor of retaining Lisa Bowman and Brian Norris as board president and vice-president respectively.
Alexander had been harshly critical of both in his campaign for school board.
Bowman followed her election to her third term as board president by welcoming Alexander telling him, “there’s a learning curve to becoming a good board member,” and saying there was much the board and each new member could do on their own to get up to speed.
First, she said, like all new board members Alexander would be assigned a board mentor to turn to with any questions. Bowman said returning board member Nelson Stolzfus had volunteered to mentor Alexander.
Bowman also encouraged Alexander to reach out to other board members and Superintendent Tom Newcome when he needed help or had a question about board business.
Bowman suggested Alexander also avail himself of the courses and books offered by the Pennsylvania School Board Association.
When the time came to hand out board assignments, Alexander accepted Bowman’s invitation to serve as Octorara’s representative on Chester County’s Intermediate Unit Board of Directors, a plum position to be sure.
Otherwise, Alexander’s name was conspicuously absent from important finance, facility and education committee slots.
As a sitting board member Alexander is welcome to attend any of the several monthly board committee meetings. Without a seat on a specific committee however, Alexander’s ability to drive his cut and reduce agenda in 2013 is limited.
In other business last night, the board eliminate their July work session meeting and decided to move their meeting start times a half-hour earlier. Instead of starting board meetings and work sessions at 7:30 PM, meetings going forward would start at 7:00 PM instead.
Dr. Newcome also announced he would host a series of town hall meeting this spring to keep the community informed and engaged. Newcome who hosted a number of town meetings in 2008, 2009 and 2010, found the town hall meetings grew stale over time. “The same people came every year and eventually they stopped coming as well,” he said.
Newcome feels the time is right to retry the town hall meeting format again and hopes the sessions will foster discussion and understanding across the district. He plans to announce the town hall meeting dates and locations in a couple of weeks.
The meeting ended around 8:20 with not a single visitor or board comments, not even a gracious welcome to the new and returning board members.
Tim Alexander’s night ended the same way it began, with a whimper.