Petition update

HTHS Lacrosse Efforts to play at Stadium

Tandi Smith
Trussville, AL, United States

Aug 19, 2020 — 

Thank you so much for supporting Boys and Girls Lacrosse efforts to play their home games at the stadium.  We are working on making this happen for the 20-21 season, but we still need your help.  Right now we have two city councilmen that have been working very hard to make this happen: Zack Steele and Perry Cook.  They have made HUGE strides so far and I feel that we are very close to playing in the stadium.  However, we are not there yet!  The City of Trussville Municipal Election will be on August 25, 2020, and both Zack Steele and Perry Cook have opponents running against them.  I would not be surprised if their support for Lacrosse and for transparency in the school board appointments have played into their opponents decision to opposed them.  We need them to STAY on the council in order to play in the stadium.  Honestly, we really need a majority of city councilmen (3) to continue the momentum we had before COVID. 

I sent a text today to several people in the community that are very tuned in to this year’s election.  I asked what they felt was the most important issue during the municipal election.  Every single person answered, “Trussville City Schools Board of Education.”  I believe lacrosse got this conversation started, or at least brought it to everyone’s attention. 

Here are some of the main concerns that are being discussed:

              Transparency:  There is no discussion during the School Board Meetings, and the discussion during the workshop (when items should be discussed) is only informational, with no discussion of the pro’s and con’s of issues.  It appears as if the BOE has already made up their minds regarding the way they will vote before the workshop has even happened.  As many of you may remember, I received a letter from the BOE stating “After diligent and thorough review and dialogue, The BOE…” basically says no to lacrosse.  However, several Lacrosse parents attended both workshops and meetings leading up to this letter being sent.  The word lacrosse was not mentioned one time.  This statement is either not true, or a violation of the Alabama Open Meeting Law.  Either way it highlights their lack of transparency when it comes to issues that matter to their stakeholders.

              Rubber Stamping:  In the 15 BOE meetings from July 9, 2019 to Aug 4, 2020, there were 3030 Ayes votes and 0 (ZERO) Nays.  Of those, 1295 were Personnel changes.  The other 1735 were issues regarding budget, facility usage, curriculum, etc.  There was not a NAY vote cast by a single Board member in the last year.  I am not in favor of a BOE that is in constant conflict with the superintendent, but I do feel that there should be questions and discussions, and not just a rubber stamp. 

              Evaluation:  The Superintendent received her most recent evaluation in January of 2020.  She received a 100%.  There is a lot of concern that the BOE evaluated her performance and decided it was perfect.  Everyone has areas in which they need to grow or improve.  Most evaluations or reviews give areas in which the recipient should set goals to improve.  However, based on this evaluation, she received a perfect score and should not worry about growing or improving. 

As many of you know, the BOE is appointed by the city council, not elected.  If we want change, we can’t vote them out of office, we have to go through the city council.  Which should make our issues with the BOE a concern of the council.  However, Zack Steele and Perry Cook are the only two councilmen who would listen to our concerns.  Both Zack and Perry fought (and continue to fight) for lacrosse to have access to the stadium.  They also listened when we shared our concerns that the decision to not allow lacrosse was not discussed openly.  

There are 5 Board of Education members.  Each member serves for 5 years, and each year, one of the board members rolls off the board.  This year there were 11 applications for the board position, 5 Educators, 2 Doctorates in Education, 3 National Board Certified Educators, 6 parents of TCS students, 1 VP, I Attorney, 2 MBA’s, 1 Published Author, 2 Accountants and 1 Nurse Practioner.  However, the member set to roll off announced that she wanted to stay on the board for another 5 years.  Zack Steele and Perry Cook listened to the citizens who came to the council meetings and pushed for an open and fair interview process in which all applicant’s qualifications (including the member who wished to be re-appointed) could be evaluated, to determine who would be best for the BOE.  The other three councilmen chose to toss the applications and reappoint the current member, stating that everything was going well, and that historically, the council reappoints any member wishing to continue to serve.  This was after they had citizens come to council meeting on three separate occasions for three different issues in the last 6 months, asking for change.

I have had many calls, text and emails over the last month asking who I plan to vote for.  My votes are not only based on whether or not they think lacrosse should have access to the (city owned) stadium, but are also based on my concerns for a balanced school board in which ideas are floated, discussed and then voted either for or against openly during a public meeting.  Not a school board in which the Superintendent sends an email out with all the reasons this is a great idea, then promotes it in workshop as being wonderful, and then adds it to consent agenda for approval.  If you feel the way I feel, this is how I plan to vote and why:

Place 1:  Perry Cook (incumbent) Perry has worked tirelessly for the lacrosse organization and when placed as liaison to the Park and Rec board was pivotal in getting our concerns brought before the school board and city council.  He also was very vocal about open interviews for board appointments. (watch the Zoom meeting for the April 14th City Council meeting on The Trussville Tribune, it is VERY enlightening).

Place 2:  Beckee Taunton:  I plan to vote for Beckee because she is very open to concerns regarding the school board and thinks Lacrosse should have access to the stadium.  Her opponent has been very open about his opposition to the council getting involved with lacrosse and was the most vocal in saying that we were a vocal minority.  He also was adamantly against open interviews for BOE and is happy with the Status Quo.  (I am so adamantly opposed to this opponent that I almost ran against him for this position, but I was worried I would have to miss a lacrosse game – If Beckee were not running against him, I would vote for Mickey Mouse over him)

Place 3:  Jaime Anderson:  Jaime Anderson served on the Park and Rec board with me and is very much in favor of Lacrosse and Park and Rec having access to the fields, and is for an open and transparent board appointment process.  I am unsure of where her opponent stands on this issue.  The Facebook group “Be the Best at TCS” asking several questions about the school system, including lacrosse and he did not answer it.  If you are not a member of this group, I encourage you to join.  There is a lot of great information being shared there.

Place 4:  Ben Short:  Ben Short has stated that he can’t believe that lacrosse being allowed to play at the stadium is an issue at all, and feels that school teams, clubs and city rec teams should ALL have access under clear guidelines.  His opponent says this issue should be left up to the school board and that if a board member wants to be re-appointed, they should automatically be appointed.  Period. 

Place 5:  Zack Steele:  Zack Steele has spent an insane number of hours working with me trying to get access for lacrosse to play at the stadium.  He has done hours of research regarding all areas of concern that the school board mentioned.  In addition, he fought very hard to have an open and transparent interview process for board appointments.  For his efforts, there are several people involved with the school board that would like him voted off council.  Let’s not let that happen.  Please cast your vote as a “thank you” for working so hard for us!!!

There are several things I need you to do to help us get lacrosse on the stadium field in 2021.  The most important thing is to VOTE!!  The second most important thing is to educate your friends.  Both on and off of social media.  Make sure they know that Lacrosse asking to play on in the stadium opened up a much larger issue with the school board and vote for transparency, BOE term limits and an open application and interview process every time, without automatic reappointments.

Thank you for your support!!

Tandi Smith

Trussville Park and Rec Board Member and Lacrosse Mom.

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