Heated Exchange Between School Board Members During Budget Adoption [VIDEOS]

Board chair threatens to kick another board member out of the meeting.

The  on Tuesday finalized a budget proposal for next school year that trims about $525,000 from a spending plan originally proposed by interim Superintendent John Reed.

The board, which had two members who got into a heated argument at the meeting (see details below), ended up approving a $26.79 million plan for the 2012-13 school year to send to voters. The proposal, which will be sent to voters, represents an increase of $859,101, or 3.31 percent, over the current plan. 

The Board of Education has to present the plan to the town's Board of Finance and then will bring its proposal before the townspeople in late April, probably on April 23, for a public hearing.

The annual meeting for the town and school budgets this year will be held on May 7. Then the proposed town and school figures will be sent to a referendum, when voters will have the final say over town spending. The municipal budget is still being developed. 

Reed originally proposed a budget that showed a 5.34 percent increase, or $1.38 million more than the current budget. The school board was able to find savings in several areas - including insurance and electrical cost savings - to pare the number down to a level that the board believes will be more palatable to voters.

As of now, the board has not proposed laying anyone off. The board will, however, eliminate a position next year by removing a first grade classroom at Quaker Farms School, but that job loss will be through attrition rather than a layoff or a firing, school board members said Tuesday night.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of the proposal with only board member Ted Oczkowski voting against it. But the fireworks came before the vote even took place.

Just before the vote, he accused the board's leadership of not being transparent and not giving all of the board members the proper information in a timely fashion. Board Chairwoman Paula Guillet took exception to the claims. She yelled at Oczkowski, banged her gavel several times to tell him he was out of line and told him he could leave the meeting, which he did after he cast his vote. She also said he had never picked up his mail at the Board of Education building and does not attend meetings regularly, which is why he isn't properly informed of what is happening.

Guillet told Oczkowski to try picking up his mail. Oczkowski, who, like Guillet is a Democrat but oftentimes sides with Republicans on the board, told Guillet she was showing her "true colors" and told her to not make the mistake of acting like she was his mother. She also said Guillet was getting out of control. After the meeting, Guillet was unapologetic for her actions and said she thought Oczkowski was the one out of line.

Some of that heated exchange was captured on videos by Oxford Patch. See the videos attached to this article.

Tush February 29, 2012 at 02:27 PM
what esle is new!
Leatherhead February 29, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Big deal! From the headline, I thought it was going to be Ted O & Coach Carbs in a Battle Royale that would make Linda McMahon smile! But it turns out it's just Ted getting a verbal smack down by Ms. Guillet. Can't blame Coach for this one!
Someone February 29, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I don't get it....where is the vídeo clip?
Paul Singley February 29, 2012 at 10:19 PM
There are two attached to this article. Are you looking at it from an iPhone? For some reason, the videos aren't showing up on iPhone. It's on the site, though.
Someone February 29, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Got it..yes, on the phone...you rock with you fast response...will check it out on line soon...
Abe March 01, 2012 at 03:43 AM
My respect for Mr. Oczkowski continues. Others would do well to undo what they have done to lose my respect.
Rachael R March 01, 2012 at 10:26 PM
I'm not playin." "You haven't shown up for nuthin." If you want to attract a good Superintendent put a muzzle on "Snoop Dawg".
Bernard March 02, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Rachel, this a a first - but I actually agree. Can't lose your "kool" - even when dealing with idiotic situations. From what I heard, Mr. Oczkowski was complaining because, despite not attending most BOE and recent budget workshops, he didn't understand the budget and blamed "Snoop Dawg" for not spoon-feeding it to him by osmosis.
Rachael R March 02, 2012 at 12:51 AM
John: I will remember to note the day you agree. If you are the Chair of anything it is your responsibility to lead and set the tone. Paula Guillet is a poor model of any leadership role, but considering she represents education in Oxford it is particularly disturbing.
Leatherhead March 02, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Snoop Dawg says "Ya needs to take the tizzle to learn dis shizzle, it's important fo ya lizzle".
Bernard March 02, 2012 at 01:48 AM
There are plenty of bad role models in leadership positions in Oxford that have said and done worse on their best days. She's new and needs to learn this lesson about not letting people get to you. Its too early to make sweeping judgements just because someone says "nothing." "You're not my mother" is not exactly the height of eloquence. Education in Oxford largely carries on regardless of who is in the Chair. Tone is important though and that definitely needs to be adjusted.
Rachael R March 02, 2012 at 01:57 AM
John: I don't think Ms, Guillet is new. I"m not sure, but I believe she has been on the Board for quite a few years. If she didn't feel she had the experience, or knowledge to take on the Chair she should have had the decency to decline the position. Oxford should not content itself with settling for less because there has been worse in the past.
lisajeans March 02, 2012 at 02:16 AM
While I may not entirely agree with Mr. Ozkowski, I don’t think a chairman should be hollering at anyone. If you don’t have self control pass the gavel to someone who does. What staff or board member wants to be hollered at if they don’t see thing your way.
Concerned Parents March 02, 2012 at 02:20 AM
I hope this is not the leadership we can expect in the future. Chairmen need to be more professional and in control of themselves despite the actions of others.
Kenn Maher March 03, 2012 at 11:54 PM
=Ted (the world revolves around me) O .has his own agenda.Wants a job in Oxford school system. He can't even do his job on BOE, just a loud troublemaker. Paula was just letting Ted know she will not be intimidated by him. Maybe if Ted and Neary showed up for meetings they would know what is going on. If a man did what paula did we wouldn't be all in a tither Kenn Maher
Rachael R March 04, 2012 at 01:47 AM
You can let someone know that you aren't intimidated without acting out in an angry classless manner. Don't make excuses for inexcusable behavior. She is a grown woman, and the BOE Chair. Oxford does not need any more "black eyes."
BrownEyes March 04, 2012 at 03:18 AM
I attended this meeting and Ms. Guillet made several attempts to respond courteously to Mr. Oczkowski's concerns and politely ruled his personal attacks on people's character and his personal venting out of order. This is the chairperson's responsibility by Robert's Rules of Order. She lost her cool after her requests were repeatedly ignored and he attacked the integrity of this board and the budget they clearly have put a lot of time into. I am not excusing her behavior as I'm sure noone on this blog as ever lost their cool. However, from what I've seen while Ms. Guillet doesn't pride herself on her professionalism, she does pride herself on her integrity and her loyalty and continuous dedication to the education of our children. We all know how important having a sweet voice, nice clothes and being professional is, just ask the hundreds of members of our community who are on the $10 million "list". Personally, I prefer someone I can trust and I'm sure Ms. Guillet will work on not letting disgruntled board members who spend the bulk of the few meetings they've attended clicking away on their Ipad, push her buttons in the future. Give her a chance.
Peggy Freeman March 04, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Paul - Nice job on providing the video. This way people who could not make the meeting can actually watch it live, and then form an opinion.
concerned mom March 04, 2012 at 12:00 PM
There was more that happened before this video started. This current board under Ms. Guillet's direction has conducted more open budget discussions than any other board. BOE members who have spent hours learning the budget and working as a team to present a reasonable budget to the town. Mr. Ozkowski failed to attend a number of meetings and failed to pick up information from the BOE office mailboxes which sit outside and can be accessed at any time day or night. When Mr. Ozkowski verbally attacked the process, Ms. Guillet may have raised her voice to Mr. Ozkowski after several attempts to talk to him. But he would not stop talking and was asked several times to stop. At some point, just as we tell our kids, when a bully will not stop, you have to let someone know so the bullying will stop. Ms. Guillet did just that and stood up for herself and the BOE from an ongoing bullying issue on the BOE. Ms. Guillet in her years on the board has always worked by putting the kids and the district first. She deserves our support and I'm sure she will continue to do just that, while putting forth a fiscally responsible budget. Mr. Ozkowski should work with the new board and stop trying to work against this board. Ms. Guillet continue to work for our kids and you will always have my support.
Rachael R March 04, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Brown Eyes: "Guillet doesn't pride herself on professionalism, she does pride herself on integrity and loyality(sic) loyalty..." Since when are professionalism and integrity mutually exclusive? You can't be professional without integrity, and cannot have integrity if you display yourself unprofessionally. I'm sure Robert's Rules of Order does not instruct a Chair to behave in the way she did. The tape speaks for itself.
MOM March 05, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Having heard from others who were in attendance at this meeting, I wish the video captured the whole discussion. Guillet was speaking calmly and answered Oczkowski's concerns. He was told several times that he was "out of order." He repeatedly ignored her and instead spoke over her, refusing to stop. A Chairman's job is to enforce Roberts Rules of Order. His personal venting was not on the agenda and personal attacks on someone's intelligence are completely out of order. "Well, I don't know how much intelligence it takes to see that the mailbox is full and maybe I should just mail this stuff" he said. I don't know if he was referring to Guillet or the secretary at Central Office but in my opinion he got what was coming to him! Also, word has it that he was very disrespectful to Dr. Reed by continually playing on his i-pad during Dr. Reed's entire report, not to mention the whole meeting until this disruption occurred. He owes Dr. Reed an apology, he should be embarassed! I think the Board should put a new policy into effect for Board members that playing "angry birds" on your i-pad during a public meeting is not allowed. You are an elected member for the children of Oxford. If you want to play with your toy so badly, do us all a favor and stay home! Better yet, RESIGN, Mr. Oczkowski! It's about time we had a Chairwoman with some guts who doesn't rely on her Board members to bail her out, good for you, Ms. Guillet!
Ed Spruck March 05, 2012 at 04:40 AM
I was at the meeting involving the “angry” outburst by Ms Guillet. I remember her actions over the past two years when she continually texted on her phone and she hollered at Chairman McKinnon, calling her names and refused to stop arguing. Mr. Oczkowski was significantly less belligerent than Ms Guillet was on many occasions. Chairman McKinnon never engaged in hollering back, she maintained a professional control over the meeting. I expect no less for Ms Guillet. If she wants to be Chairman she needs to act like one.


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