Notes from the school board committee of the whole meeting, September 8, 2016

Since this item about tonight’s committee of the whole will contain some facts and some opinions, we googled “fact fiction” and found this narrative and description at, where else, Mrs. Donahue’s Webpage. Mrs. Donahue is an educator with the Eastport-South Manor Central School District in New York. Thank you, Mrs. Donahue for your excellent “Distinguishing between fact and opinion” lesson.


FACT & OPINION … The meeting agenda is projected in exceptionally large format so all can read the agenda. [NOTE: Columbia’s borough council should take note of this; the installation of an oversized LCD monitor in council chambers should be used. In fact, each of the presenters queued for line-item contributions should have projected their presentations for all to see.]

FACT … Columbia Borough School District has a new URL:

FACTThe agenda for tonight’s meeting is posted online; Dr. Robert Hollister said that agendas will be posted three days in advance of all meetings.

FACT … The school board directors committee of the whole meeting took place at the District office this evening as the meeting was convened at 7:00 pm. Three of the school six board board directors were absent: Leo Lutz, Tammy Mattern and Vicki Anspach.

FACT … There is a school board vacancy and two residents who have applied for that position were in the gallery. Each was invited to a table in the center of the room before the boar to respond to questions fro the board directors present. Iris Rachael Garrido and Barry Ford were interviewed.

OPINION … The interested applicants should have had a microphone at the table. Throughout the night, it was difficult to hear the comments of many. Certainly, the “unmicrophoned” verbal responses from the applicants should have had microphones. Several of the seated board members either enunciated inaudibly or did not receive instruction in the use of the microphones in front of them.

OPINION … If the board directors are not trained in the use the microphones or choose to not use them, it does a grave disservice to the people in the audience. Several of them were having difficulty hearing the conversations.

FACT … Inaudible speech on the part of the elected public servants may be considered an Americans With a Disability Act violation. “The failure of the members of a public agency to speak loudly enough during a public meeting is a violation of the statutory requirement that meetings be ‘open to the public,’ according to a recent ruling of the Freedom of Information Commission.” – School Law Website

FACT … The Board President announced he’d received a verbal resignation from another sitting board director. He did not disclose the name of the person who “verbally resigned.”

FACT … Based on what we heard, the board will make announcements concerning the resignation and the board appointments at the next scheduled meeting: Thursday, September 15, 7pm – 9pm.

FACT … School superintendent, Dr. Robert Hollister, attended the meeting and will attend next week’s meeting.

FACT & OPINION: Elanco’s Director of Technology presented a Power Point that showed the massive, structured changes that have been accomplished in bringing Columbia Borough School District computer systems, emails and application into an organized, massively improved network. [One has to wonder who allowed the patchwork system that was in place to occur; who was watching the ship’s course?]


FACT … An ebullient Dr. Gregg McGough, Director of Curriculum/Federal Programs Coordinator, spoke about several literacy and reading programs that have been and will be introduced into Columbia Borough School District schools.

readingDr. McGouch holds up one of the collateral materials.

FACT & OPINION … Director Janet Schwert related that while the football team did get to the NJ site for last Saturday’s game, the game was canceled (Columbia news, views & reviews reported that previously). We have to wonder why the School District did not announce the cancellation to the public before tonight announcement to an audience of fewer than 20 people.

FACT … Schwert stated that Columbia Borough School District will become active again in the International Thespian Society. She also said there will be no Junior High Girls’ volleyball team fielded this season due to low turnout of players.

FACT … Dr. Hollister got his first parking ticket in Columbia a few weeks ago; the irony is he was talking with the mayor when his vehicle was ticket. He paid the fine.




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