There might be two Whitefish Bay School District annual meetings held to approve the 2013-14 budget and levy; however, it's up to residents to decide.
The Whitefish Bay School Board, meeting as the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, debated the date of the annual meeting — it falls on Sept. 4, during Rosh Hashana. At every annual meeting, the next year's meeting is set. In Whitefish Bay, the meeting is typically the first Wednesday of September. Legal counsel advised the district that once the date is approved, it cannot be changed.
Rosh Hashana is Jewish holiday marking the start of a new year. It is considered a time for prayer, and work is not allowed on Rosh Hashana.
In an effort to accommodate the Jewish community, School Board members debated whether they should ask the public to immediately adjourn the annual meeting Sept. 4 and establish Sept. 9 as a new meeting date. It is up to electors to convene the meeting and set a new date.
Board members wanted more time to debate the issue, asking for more information on the issue so they can have a better understanding of their options. They will revisit the matter in June.
Board members had different views on whether they should keep the date as Sept. 4 and apologize to the community, or strategically ask residents to change the meeting date. Even if they ask residents publicly to change the day, they can't be sure the electors who come on Sept. 4 will vote that way.
There are ramifications to asking residents to essentially attend two meetings. Some may show up Sept. 4 and there could still be an annual meeting regardless of the decision at the board level. Or, some residents could choose to not show up, thinking the meeting will be moved to Sept. 9.
Board member Marie Greco said she was torn. Asking residents to turn out twice for a meeting is risky, she acknowledged, but on the other hand, having the annual meeting during the Jewish holiday is wrong.
Board member Kristin Yunker said the board needs to do the right thing and make up for its mistake.
"I think we need to change it just because we expect our students in the district to respect and embrace diversity, and I think If we don't do it we send the wrong message," she said.
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