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Decision No. 13,518

Appeal of MARY E. KASTBERG, FRAN EMOND and ANTON KASTBERG from action of the Board of Education of the Granville Central School District regarding shared decisionmaking.

Decision No. 13,518

(November 16, 1995)

Bernard F. Ashe, Esq., attorney for petitioners, Mary Scalise Perillo, Esq., of counsel

Judge & Duffy, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, Monica A. Duffy, Esq., of counsel

MILLS, Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal respondent's budget adoption process. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner Anton Kastberg is president of the Granville Teachers' Association and is a member of the district shared decision making team for the Granville Central School District ("respondent"). Petitioner Fran Emond is a teacher's assistant employed by respondent and is a member of the junior high school shared decisionmaking committee. Petitioner Mary Kastberg is employed by respondent and is a member of the high school shared decisionmaking team. Respondent's District Plan for Participation of Parents and Teachers in School-based Planning and Shared Decisionmaking to Improve Student Performance ("the plan") was adopted on January 20, 1994 in accordance with 8 NYCRR 100.11.

On January 11, 1995, petitioner Mary Kastberg stated in a letter to respondent's superintendent of schools, that the junior and senior high school shared decisionmaking teams wanted to actively participate in the development of the district's budget. On February 21, 1995, in a second letter to the superintendent, petitioner requested a meeting with respondent board before its adoption of the budget. After receiving no response to these letters, petitioner Mary Kastberg sent another letter to respondent concerning the budget on April 6, 1995. Respondent held nine budget discussion sessions between January and April 1995 at which the building teams were represented. Respondent's budget was adopted on May 4, 1995. This appeal ensued.

Petitioners allege that respondent violated its shared decisionmaking plan by failing to submit its proposed district budget to the building teams. They seek an order abolishing the budget and ask that it be submitted to the building teams for discussion and recommendation prior to adoption. They also request that I order respondent to adhere to the spirit of communication and cooperation in implementing the district plan in the future. Respondent raises a number of procedural objections, including petitioners' failure to state a cause of action and lack of standing to represent the building teams without consensus. Respondent claims that it did not violate the shared decisionmaking plan, that the building teams had significant input in the budget process and that it did not act arbitrarily and unreasonably in preparing, discussing and reviewing its 1995-96 budget.

Respondent's shared decisionmaking plan provides:


Issues for shared decision making shall include but not be limited to the following categories:

A. Academic Process

B. Student Welfare

C. School/Community Relations

D. Budget

E. Social/Behavioral Issues

F. Evaluation

Respondent's plan lists budget as one of the issues subject to shared decisionmaking. Respondent contends that it employed its usual channels of communication to inform the building teams about its proposed budget. In fact, the record indicates that respondent scheduled five budget discussion sessions which were open to the public and that a representative of the building teams attended each budget meeting. Furthermore, the superintendent issued a personal invitation that was sent to petitioner Anton Kastberg and the building teams in addition to special meetings respondent held to discuss and review the 1995-96 budget on March 27 and April 13, 1995.

The record before me indicates that petitioner Mary Kastberg attempted on several occasions to schedule meetings with respondent to discuss building team suggestions on the development of the district's proposed budget. Petitioners claim that respondent's failure to meet separately with the building teams to discuss district budget issues violated its shared decisionmaking plan. However, the board of education is required to formulate the school district budget (Education Law ''1709, 1716 and 1804). That obligation is not delegable to a shared decisionmaking team. Therefore, respondent's effort to involve the building teams in public budget discussions while refusing to delegate budget development responsibilities to those teams was appropriate and did not violate respondent's shared decisionmaking plan.

I have examined the parties' remaining contentions and find them without merit.