The Richland school board played catch up with Pasco and Kennewick school boards and began taping their meetings on Tuesday. The process was not without first-time glitches.

The link at the top of the agenda went nowhere although the school district’s website homepage had a working link to the Zoom meeting.

Mumble, mumble, mumble, the voices coming from the meeting room were practically inaudible. The voices of anyone who called in or appeared via Zoom were loud and clear. The tape had the same problem.

Richland School District Director of Communications Ty Beaver said that the staff was working to correct the technical issues. Most residents commenting on Facebook said that they were happy that meetings will be taped.

State Representative and candidate for Congress Brad Klippert stepped up to the podium during the public comment period to bring up issues that the board seemed to have moved passed – mask mandates and critical race theory.

At least one resident, identified on Zoom as “TAB,” wished they had not heard Klippert and responded to his comments, “You have a job in Olympia. Take it there.”

Board Member Misipati Semi Bird caused a bit of a controversy when he offered to facilitate, without compensation, the staff meetings to create a strategic plan. According to Bird’s resume on his LinkedIn page, he leads “a full-service training and consulting firm dedicated to increasing organizational performance through cutting edge training and development methodology.”

 Bird’s opponent in the 2021 election, Elizabeth Vann-Clark, said after the meeting in a Facebook post that she thought his facilitating strategic planning would be a conflict of interest.

The Director of Policy and Legal Services at the Washington State School Directors’ Association Abigail Westbrook responded to The Observers email about the conflict-of-interest issue.

Westbrook wrote, “As a general matter, there is no legal conflict of interest when someone does something for free. There might be a consideration of whether the board member is too personally involved to be objective and therefore is not as effective, but there is no legal problem.”

The school district lobbyist at the Washington State Legislature, Melissa Gombosky, joined the meeting via Zoom and displayed a list of the school district’s priorities. The list included:

*providing more realistic state-funded staffing levels in all schools

*keeping funding in place for the district during the review of the regionalization formulas

*fully funding special education

*updating the current, outdated funding formula for capital facilities.

Residents who want to attend school board meetings or watch them on Zoom, can see the schedule on the school district calendar.  The meeting recordings have also been posted.