If Lathes Towns and Adrianne Fails leave a legacy during their time on the Dublin ISD school board, it might be their questioning of what they call the "boys club."
And during Monday night's board meeting, they did it again.
Up for discussion were contracts for various faculty, term limits for board members, and residency and insurance stipends for employees.
The board went into executive session at the request of Dr. Sue Lewis to discuss the delay of several employee contracts. The board stayed behind closed doors for less than 30 minutes, returning to unanimously approve every recommendation made by Superintendent Dr. Rodney Schneider.
While a complete list was not immediately available, Schneider said the list would be made available online following board approval.
The board then moved on to a series of agenda items requested by Fails, who has elected not to run for re-election in May. Fails asked the board to consider an insurance stipend for employees as well as a report on the residency stipend the board approved last summer.
Fails said she requested a report on the newly-implemented residency stipend that allows the district to pay employees a one-time bonus to those who live within the school district or have students enrolled in the district. Schneider told the board he has no information on how many of the district's 119 employees have taken advantage of the offer or if any have moved or transferred their students to the district because of it.
"There is no reason to collect that data as the year has not ended," Schneider said. "They have to live in the district from September until May and the students have to be enrolled the entire school year for the employee to be applicable."
Schneider said school officials would take applications for the stipend in May and will have the information to present to the board in June.
Fails also suggested giving employees a $250 stipend to help cover the cost of insurance.
"We discussed this before, several months ago," Schneider said. "I can not give you a recommendation on this until budget talks begin later in the school year and I've had a chance to talk with TASB on the matter for more information."
Fails said she wanted the board to look at stipend options because she felt it would make job opportunities in the district more favorable to new employees.
"We've spent a lot of money on a lot of different things this year," she said. "And I think our employees, who are doing a wonderful job with our students, are not getting recognized enough. This would raise the opportunities for employees coming into the district or considering doing so."
Schneider's hesitation to take action by citing the budget drew some heat from board members like Towns and Lewis, who both remembered approving a 16 percent raise for Schneider without considering the budget just two months ago.
"I guess I'm a little confused," Towns said. "How can we give you a 16 percent raise without even looking at the budget, but you can't give us any information on raises and stipend amounts for our employees so that we can discuss options?"
President Mike Jurney jumped into the conversation, telling board members discussing employee pay was not appropriate until the budget review.
"I agree with you that this is something to be considered," Jurney said. "But at the proper time. It's not budget time and the budget will be approved by the new board. It's not right for this board, who may or may not be here in a few months, to tie the hands of those who could come in after the election."
Fails and Towns pointed out that the board sitting around him was the board who tied the hands of the "new board" by approving a drastic 16 percent raise for Schneider. Jurney reminded board members that the superintendent's contract is always evaluated in January.
"That's not something new we did this year," Jurney said. "It's always been discussed and decided on at that time. This, talking about stipends and employees, isn't done right now. The board will do that at a later time."
Board members also hashed it out over term limits for school board members, another Fails suggestion.
"This came out of a discussion I had with Mr. (Charlie) Bradberry at a training earlier this year," Fails said. "We were talking about federal government positions and how they need to get new people in there. I think the same can be said for local government like these positions. We need term limits to allow a freshness on this board."
She proposed the board members be limited to two consecutive terms (six years), then step down for two years before running for the board again.
Just before the measure was voted down 3-4 (Fails, Lewis and Towns for the motion; Leatherwood, Jurney, Bradberry and Weaver voting against), Schneider again spoke out.
"I would like to say again that I did advise the board under recommendation of the district's attorney not to do this," he said.