IRSD school board rejects DSBA membership for 2018-19

GEORGETOWN – Apparently, the price was not right.

Indian River School District’s board of education by two-thirds majority voted against 2018-19 membership in the Delaware School Boards Association that carries a $15,105 annual fee covering that fiscal year.

“Fifteen thousand dollars is a lot of money,” said IRSD board of education vice president Rodney Layfield, among six board members who opposed the proposal. “I see a lot of good, but I also see a lot of dollar signs there.”

For more than 30 years, IRSD had been a DSBA member until July 2015 when the board voted not to renew its membership. The Indian River district was picked up last year with DSBA membership at no charge to the district.

Founded in 1946, DSBA s a voluntary, non-profit organization of school boards which seeks to further public education and assist board members in carrying out their responsibilities. DSBA’s stated purpose is to encourage and foster equity of thought and action of Delaware school boards and to further educational interests in the state.

The DSBA Legislative Committee annually reviews bills pertaining to education and through lobbying efforts offers its opinion to state legislators.

Board members Derek Cathell, Gerald Peden, W. Scott Collins, James Fritz and board president Charles Bireley joined Mr. Layfield in rejecting the proposal, which IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele recommended approval.

“I think there have been various issues in the past with the DSBA,” said Mr. Steele. “However, I think right now that the organization is strong, probably as strong as it has ever been. They are very active legislatively. They picked us up last year without being charged, due to financial restraints we were going through. I would recommend the board strongly consider at this point joining the DSBA.”

Membership dues are calculated on a pro-rated scale based on units.

Before the board’s vote, Mr. Layfield asked if the DSBA might consider a discounted, lower fee.

“I believe they want the whole fee,” said Mr. Steele. “Again, Mr. Layfield, they did not charge us a penny last year.”

“I know Mr. Marinucci (DSBA Executive Director John Marinucci) is doing a nice job,” said Mr. Layfield. “This is $15,105 we’re paying to be part of this association. That’s a lot of money.”

“I agree that it’s a lot of money. But from what I’ve seen them doing, I think it would increase their lobbying efforts and their ability to do even more,” said board member Dr. Donald Hattier, who voted in favor of DSBA membership. “I’ve been impressed by the quality of the information that they have sent out. We are one of the larger districts in the state. I think it behooves us to be a member.”

Leolga Wright and Dr. Heather Statler also voted in favor of DSBA membership for 2018-19. Board member James Hudson was not at the June 25 board meeting.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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