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Tensions are showing on Guilderland school board

Retreat to solve conflicts causes finger pointing before it even begins

— Guilderland Board of Education members are scheduled to hold a retreat next month to work out their differences, but some internal tensions spilled out into public before they could get away.

Near the close of the board’s Tuesday, Oct. 22, meeting, Colleen O’Connell, former board president, expressed her frustrations about three of her eight fellow board members who had not turned in a questionnaire distributed for the November retreat two weeks after the due date. A facilitator asked board members to complete the multiple choice-style survey, which O’Connell admitted was “quite lengthy,” to help prepare for the retreat.

“If people aren’t even willing to do the work beforehand and look at this survey, I am not sure why this is a good use of six hours of my time in November,” O’Connell said. “I think we desperately need a retreat, but I don’t think people are committed to it, so I am questioning why we are having it.”

Superintendent Marie Wiles, however, said there was only one questionnaire outstanding as of the Tuesday night meeting.

The planned retreat would be held over two nights next month, over a total of six hours, on district property. The district also hired a facilitator to lead the meetings who charges a fee of $150 per hour.

Wiles said the board has held a retreat for several years, even before her tenure. This year, the retreat will focus on the board doing a self-evaluation.

At the meeting, O’Connell continued to blast some fellow board members, without naming names, who she claimed are regularly not prepared for meetings.

“I think there is a lack of commitment by a number of people on this board,” O’Connell said. “Some members of this board do not respond to school email, which makes it very difficult to schedule things, which means people have to get on the phone.”

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