Sight of newspaper shuts down school budget talks

Sight of newspaper shuts down school budget talks

An audience member's possession of The Examiner newspaper prompted the Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees to end a scheduled budget meeting shortly after the meeting commenced Thursday, June 6. Trustees and audience members had braved the inclement weather to attend the posted meeting, which was scheduled to allow the elected leaders of the school board to whittle away an upcoming budget deficit in the millions - potentially costing teachers their jobs, or necessitating a tax increase. Still, talks of how to handle the school district's finances will have to wait since some board members were so offended by an audience member silently reading the newspaper that the meeting had to be shut down.

"It's very distracting," District 2 Trustee Zenobia Bush said. "If he wants to read and hold it in the air, he will need to move to the back."

The audience member reading the newspaper, Beaumont City Councilman and local attorney Mike Getz, didn't immediately move from his seat. A BISD police officer was called to escort Getz to the back of the building and/or outside of the building, but again, the lawyer questioned the legality and reason for any such move.

"I'm not going outside; I'm listening to the meeting while I'm reading my newspaper," Getz said.

At that point, BISD Board President Woodrow Reece voiced the opinion that if Getz would not go willingly, Getz would go in handcuffs.

"Have the officer do his job," Reece instructed. The officer continued to plead with Getz to leave willingly, and after several minutes of dialogue the board of trustees elected to close the meeting in lieu of continuing the confrontation.

Before closing the meeting, however, Reece added that he was looking into sanctions and charges against two board members for visiting BISD campuses without a district escort and meeting with unspecified elected officials.

"If one or two members think they're going to overrule the board majority, they can think again," Reece said.

One or two board members took exception to Reece's remarks.

"The arrogance of some people," Trustee Tom Neild said. "You can't show me anywhere where we, as individuals, cannot seek counsel and the opinion of our elected leaders. There's not a person on this board who's going to tell me where I can go and who I can see."

With that, the meeting was adjourned. After the meeting, Getz said he wasn't trying to be difficult, but couldn't understand why his quiet reading caused such a stir.