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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com 

The Chelsea Board of Education met on Jul.  15, hosting Kacie Kefgen, an Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services for the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), as they discussed school district governance before going into closed session for negotiation preparation.

Kefgen’s presentation, titled “Getting Ready for Bargaining,” had five main objectives. The first was to comprehend school district governance, the next was to understand the goals and process of negotiations, then came familiarity with key labor statutes, followed by being aware of common union strategies and knowing how Chelsea compares to other districts.

Five of the board members have been through the bargaining process with Jason Perry Eyster and Keri Poulter being the two newly elected school board members who haven’t.

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First, the board went over the role of the board itself, the role of the individual board members, and finally the role of the superintendent, referencing the district’s policies and bylaws if needed.

The school district has a Neola website that lists their policies whether that be for their bylaws, administration, programs, professional and support staff, students, finances, property, operations, or relations.

Neola’s mission statement is “to help school leaders set direction through policy and address the policy implications and mandates of the ever-evolving laws and regulations from all levels of government.”

Next, Kefgen broke the board into groups to answer questions via school policies.

Each group had a different set of questions and after taking time to discuss the questions between themselves, they all came together about what they had found first by discussing with their group, and then what they had learned when referencing school policies/bylaws.

The Open Meetings Act, the use of social media, ad hoc committees and subcommittees were briefly discussed in back and forth with Kefgen before the presentation went into closed session for more detailed discussion on labor relations and preparing for negotiations.

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