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Sunday, May 19, 2024

York County School Board Reverses Policy Making Decision, Goes with VSBA Only

York County School Board (YCSD)

YORK COUNTY — The York County School Board reversed a decision to use both the School Board Member Alliance (SBMA) and the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) for policy writing services, choosing to go with VSBA after finding an exclusionary clause in the contract from the SBMA.

At its March 25 meeting, by a 4-1 vote, the board had passed a motion to use both SBMA and VSBA for policy writing services. The decision was made to adopt both after a discussion amongst the board and advice from board attorney Melanie Berry.

SBMA was created by Sherri Story, a former member of the Suffolk City School Board. She has said in interviews that she created it as a conservative alternative school board association for Christians and those who do not hold a secular worldview.

VSBA describes itself as a nonpartisan organization of Virginia school boards that “promotes excellence in public education through leadership, advocacy, and services.” VSBA has been the policy writer for York County School Division since 2011.

At the Monday meeting, the public was made aware of an exclusionary clause in the SBMA contract that would require the board to select either SBMA or VSBA.

“When we had the discussion at the last meeting, we knew what each was going to be covering, we knew what their costs were, but we did not have the contract from SBMA. When we received the contract, we discovered that it had an exclusionary clause in it, that we had to choose one or the other, which means that it negated what we had done with that particular motion,” board chair Lynda Fairman explained.

Board member James Richardson raised the question of amending the motion to choose just VSBA for policy writing services. According to Fairman, it was better to rescind the action from the meeting on March 25, as amending a motion is typically reserved for small changes.

“What we’re doing is rescinding the whole thing of choosing both and then we’ll have another motion to choose one or the other,” Fairman said.

Richardson noted that he had “difficulty voting on that when I don’t know which one we will be going with.”

Fairman said she had spoken to a parliamentarian about the issue, who agreed it was best to rescind the motion completely and vote on choosing between one or the other. When Richardson disagreed, Fairman noted that according to Robert’s Rules of Order, the chair has the final say. Fairman added that rescinding the motion to undo the action that was taken at the last meeting would then allow for putting a clean motion up for a vote by the board, as opposed to dealing with amendments.

The motion to rescind failed, however, due to both Mark J. Shafer and Richardson voting against and it needing a two-thirds majority to pass.

“In order to rescind, it needed to be a 4-0 vote. With this being 3-2, it does not meet that requirement for rescinding. The issue is that if we have a motion to amend, that also requires a two-thirds vote,” Fairman explained after the vote failed.

She asked the board for another motion, this time including amending to eliminate the two options and choosing just one. Kimberly S. Goodwin then made a new motion to establish Virginia School Board Association policy writing Services.

Goodwin’s motion was seconded by Richardson, and after no further discussion, passed 4-1, with Fairman the only no vote.

To view the meeting in its entirety, click here. The next meeting of the York County School Board will be held on May 6 at 6 p.m. in York Hall.

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