1. Call to Order –
· Mary Stucklen, Chair, called the meeting to order at 4:10pm. She informed those present that she would record the session to avoid having to take minutes during the meeting.
· Attendants: Mary Stucklen (Chair), Ned Kirchner, Amy Burdick (Treasurer), Gail Ceresia (program administrator), and Holly Aragi (called in).
o Mary asked Holly to make sure that during the executive session that Holly is alone and does not have anyone on her end that can hear the conversation.
Open Session, New Business:
2. Announcements & Important Updates
· Continued until the end of the meeting.
3. Bill to Pay
· Amy had no bills to pay but informed the board that there the board is losing money. Between Volusion, the loss of profit from the bulb sale, and the administrator’s salary, there is more money going out than going in.
· The program administrator asked to pay the auditor but that is on the agenda for the next meeting and was not on the agenda for December 5th.
Note: There will not be an open session following the Executive Session.
· Mary informed Holly, who was on speakerphone, who was in the room. Mary asked Holly if there was anyone other than Holly on the other line. She said no and apologized for not being available. Ned asked if everyone could hear Holly.
4. Employee Evaluation: Program Administrator
· Mary went over the sections for that would be discussed: Complaints Regarding Performance, Further Areas of Concern, and Moving Forward. Mary noted that each member would make a statement, then the board would discuss after the statements, uninterrupted by Gail Ceresia, the program administrator. Mary informed that The program administrator would have input at the end of the discussion should she desire. She repeated this twice.
· Mary began the discussion by making a statement. She called the emergency meeting in order to discuss concerns and complaints about the program administrator Gail Ceresia. She explained that there were multiple definitive fallbacks, including the program administrator’s absences from office hours that were to begin in August of 2018. The dates referenced to were Sept 24, Oct 22, and Nov 19. To Mary’s knowledge the program administrator was not present on those days. Mary also mentioned that the program administrator was consistently late to office hours and cited that she knows of at least one day that the program administrator was late, which was Oct 15. Another concern about the program administrator that Mary listed included incomplete office paperwork submissions, including the reimbursement paperwork in July of 2018 to the EEA which had to be resubmitted. The program administrator also did not submit her time sheets in a timely manner and listed seven months in which this occurred. This included Dec ’17, Jan-Apr ’18, June ’18, and Aug ’18. The next concern that Mary had, which was very significant to Mary, was: On September 25th between 11:05 and 12:05 at the Marketplace cafe, the program administrator offered to Mary to work the program administrator’s position for Berkshire Conservation District in her place, and that the program administrator would collect the wages for that time; the program administrator, Gail Ceresia, would then pay Mary back through her small business. Mary also listed poor email communications with the public.
· At this point, the program administrator interrupted and stated that she didn’t know that she didn’t know that Mary would ‘do to her’. Mary reminded the program administrator that she would have input at the end.
· Mary continued to list fallbacks, including a binder in the office that was not instituted for 2018 that included agendas and minutes.
· At this point, the program administrator interrupted and said that Mary said that she would take care of the binder. She continued to interrupt and said that she was ‘done’, that she thought the meeting was ridiculous, and that everything was taken out of context. She then submitted to the board a medical letter. the program administrator collected her things to leave, went to the door, and then returned to her seat so that she could listen to what Holly would have to say. She then said that she would not be driven out and that she would continue to listen to the ‘slandering’.
· Mary stated allowed that she heard the program administrator say that she was ‘done’ and that the medical letter was dated December 4th. Mary continued her list of concerns and noted that the program administrator input items into QuickBooks after being asked not to by Mary and Amy. the program administrator interrupted and said that it was a lie, and Mary reminded her again not to interrupt. Mary listed another concern, that the program administrator spoke inappropriately about board members to other board members. That was the end of Mary’s list of concerns.
· Ned began his statement saying that he concurred with Mary’s statement. He noted that issues with the program administrator started before Mary was on the board. He mentioned that the program administrator spoke to him unprofessionally about board members on the phone. Ned also mentioned that the program administrator’s behavior at this meeting was also concerning. At this point, the program administrator interrupted and said that she wanted to defend herself. Mary reminded the program administrator a fourth time that she would have a chance to defend herself at the end of the discussion. Ned continued his statement, stating that he was gravely concerned about an instance with Security involving the program administrator. Mary asked Amy about this, and Amy mentioned that the security officers of the Silvio building asked Bill Pike about who she was, because she made a poor joke about bringing a gun into the office. Ned said he had nothing additional to say.
· Amy began her statement, saying that she liked the program administrator and was hoping that the program administrator would make a better fit for BCD. She also mentioned that setting and fulfilling office hours were an expectation of the program administrator since she was offered the position and that the program administrator understood that when she was hired.
· Holly’s input included that she didn’t have any experience similar to Mary, Amy and Ned’s because she has only worked with the program administrator with grants and that the program administrator was very knowledgeable about grant writing. Holly repeated that she didn’t have any complaints because she didn’t see any of the things we had mentioned. She apologized for not having more information. Mary recognized Holly’s statement about the grants and that Holly had made the time to participate over the phone.
· At this point, Mary noted the program administrator’s outbursts about being ‘done’, and that if the board is to make a decision about the program administrator’s position, and that the program administrator would be informed about that position at the next meeting on December 12th.
· The program administrator began her statement, saying that she agreed with the timesheet concerns. She said that she was struggling with the job because of Google Docs, and she would print documents and it would print differently than she had made it. She was trying to get new members on the board, and that she was excited about working with Mary. She explained that she was surprised that Mary became chairperson, and that Mary was unreliable in terms of meeting with her and working with her on the grant. The program administrator said she was always available and asking the member’s opinions and sharing information. She then mentioned that she was upset that the office was cleaned by Mary and Amy without the program administrator’s input. the program administrator said that while she was working on Google Docs that someone else was logging in and changing her documents and that it was a security breach. She also mentioned that the instance with the security officers was a joke and that it was taken the wrong way. She brought up her timesheets to submit. She stated that the job offer she gave to Mary was taken out of context, that she didn’t want to work anymore because of her injuries, that Mary refused the job, and insisted that the program administrator continue to work. She also felt that communication with Mary and other members was inconsistent. The program administrator claimed that Mary quit her job to go after the program administrator’s job. She repeated that she couldn’t do the job and that Mary was after the program administrator’s job. She also said that she didn’t agree to set certain office hours.
· Ned mentioned that there were numerous meetings that the board discussed with the program administrator that she set office hours. In addition, other meeting times were being missed. the program administrator said that she was in a lot of pain and couldn’t complete the work. the program administrator said that she didn’t have the proper information to do her work. She continued to cite her injuries and issues with doctors.
· Ned mentioned that if the program administrator had medical issues that a note should be submitted as soon as possible, and that the letter submitted was months late. He said that one of his concerns is that every time something is asked of the program administrator, that she was always late. Ned cited an instance involving the program administrator being late for an appointment for an issue with the internet.
· The program administrator repeated that she was upset about the office cleaning by Mary and Amy, and that she felt that she was being attacked, and that Mary was going into the computer and hacking into the program administrator’s documents. She said that Mary was being bossy, and was taking tasks away from the program administrator, and being inconsistent with communication.
· Ned stated that the program administrator was doing agendas with many mistakes, and the program administrator said that it was someone going into the computer and changing it on her. Ned replied stating that the problems happened before Mary joined the board. It was a conversation between Bill and Ned about the program administrator before Mary had joined.
· The program administrator said that she had tried to resign before and that she didn’t feel well. She thanked the board for everything, and that the board wouldn’t have to vote on anything. She said that she couldn’t work with Mary, despite wanting to work with Mary. She thought the meeting was supposed to be about more clarity regarding her job tasks. She submitted some work to be done by the board regarding a gift certificate.
· Ned asked if she was resigning, and she said that the board was dissatisfied with her. Ned asked if she was quitting, and the program administrator said that she thought she was being fired. Mary stated that they haven’t decided anything and asked if the program administrator was resigning. The program administrator declined, and said that the board would have to let her go. The program administrator left the room at this point, and Mary, Amy, Ned, and Holly (phone) were still in the discussion.
· Mary said that she didn’t know what the program administrator’s statements meant for the board. Ned said he would like to continue the discussion, asking Holly what she thought. Holly stated that emotion might be getting in the middle of decisions. She said that the board should make a decision based on what is best for the district, and that there is too much emotion involved. Ned agreed, along with Mary. Holly stated that friendships end at the door, and that the board meets to make their best decisions about the board.
· Mary added that she did not interfere with any work on the computer, accidentally or purposefully. Mary wanted the best for the district, and it would be against her interest to meddle with documents. Ned stated that the program administrator was losing items and claiming that someone was interfering with the documents prior to Mary joining the board. Ned said that he received calls about the program administrator having trouble with the computer both before and after Mary’s arrival. Ned said that there was drama with the program administrator before Mary or Holly joined, and that the board struggled to get an idea what the program administrator was doing with the time she was billing for. Most of the issues between the program administrator and the board could be perceived as Mary holding the program administrator to her job description and was acting fairly to ask the program administrator to perform certain tasks. Amy agreed that the program administrator had issues fulfilling her position before Mary was on the board. Ned wants to see a decrease in the board’s time spent on drama which may have been perpetuated from the program administrator. He said that this is the most dramatic experience he has had on the board since his start on the board in the 80’s.
· Mary stated that she has tried to work with the program administrator, that she has had many successes working with the program administrator. Mary stated that there were more negatives about the program administrator than there were positives. Mary said it was a relief to the board to have an administrator, but instead that she has had to, respectfully, babysit the program administrator. Mary wants an efficient administrator, without the board fearing that work is done correctly, professionally, in a way that reflects positively on the district. Ned reiterated what Mary said, saying that he and Bill had to spoon-feed the program administrator.
· Amy stated that she liked the program administrator, Gail Ceresia, as a person and that it didn’t feel good to say negative things about the program administrator. She said that it was inevitable. She referenced that the program administrator was hard to work with during the plant sale and that things went very wrong, and every issue was linked to the program administrator’s work.
· Mary stated that the next step for them would be to see if the program administrator’s statements counted as a resignation. She mentioned a 90 day probationary period as a possible next step to see if the program administrator could fulfill the duties expected of her in the program administrator position. Ned stated that this means that they were not firing the program administrator, but that she would have to undergo a probationary period.
5. Security Discussion
· The board discussed multiple security issues and ways to solve them.
Announcements (continued from the beginning of the meeting)
· Amy announced her resignation, effective immediately, as treasurer. She stated that she was unhappy with the position. She brought in all of the materials that she had, including a cash box, laptop, and financial materials. She said that she may join the board in the future but at this point it was not working for her.
· Mary recognized that Amy was a diligent worker, volunteer, and that Amy’s resignation was a loss to the district. Amy coordinated many sales that benefitted the district. Mary said that they respected her resignation and that hopefully they would work with Amy in the future.
· Ned said that he is concerned about how long the district would stay in business. Mary and Ned agreed that the district needs to take a close look at finances and that it would be discussed at the next meeting.
· Amy and Mary agreed that having office access is a continued issue and they hope it is smoothed out in the future.