Thursday, December 16, 2010

James Fraasch Resigns from School Board (Updated 4)

Yesterday, James Fraasch announced his resignation from the Mt. Lebanon School Board. Writing on his new blog, Politics, Policies, Government, and Economics, he elaborated:
It's been a good run, but it is time for me to move on from the Mt. Lebanon School Board. In the past few months I have missed some meetings due mostly to travel out of the country. More often than not I find myself putting an emphasis more on my personal/work life than I am on the school board. For most of my 3 years on the Board the exact opposite was the case.
Mr. Fraasch wrote that he intends to “move on to different things,” starting with more extensive travel to South America and getting an MBA.

But also among his reasons for moving on is the sense that the school board is unwilling to consider concerns he has raised. One such concern was the solicitor’s contract, extended recently, despite the school district’s embarrassing loss of the recent zoning appeal. Mr. Fraasch wrote that he received no response when he emailed the other board members about not extending the contract.

Despite the difficulties, he was glad to have served:
One last thing. I have to say that being elected to serve on the Board was perhaps the most humbling experience in my life. I never took your votes for granted. In the end I hope those that voted for me will always be able to say that I followed through on every one of my campaign promises: fiscal responsibility, open and honest communication, and new ideas.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank James Fraasch for his service. He was willing to take difficult stands, to say things that were unpopular yet needed to be said, and to think critically about decisions and their long-term consequences. Doing these things was not easy and often earned him unkind words from those who disagreed with him. Yet James carried those burdens to serve us.

Thank you, James.

Update 2010-12-16 10:45
School Board President Josephine Posti has written briefly on her blog about Mr. Fraasch’s resignation: Board Member Resignation. She also writes that the school district is now seeking Mr. Fraasch’s replacement:
According to the school code, we must appoint someone to fill his position within 30 days. We have advertised the vacancy and ask for applicants to respond by December 24. We will then conduct interviews during a special public meeting on January 3. We will take action on an appointment at the January 10 Discussion Meeting.
Filling Mr. Fraasch’s shoes will be difficult. Let’s hope some good citizens step forward.

Update 2010-12-16 11:45, 12:20, and 16:45
Additional coverage:

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Anonymous Matt Hausmann said...

I am going to miss James' presence on our school board. He brought a thoughtful voice to the board that was based on fact and analysis rather than just partisan politics. While I often did not agree with his conclusions (I'm a Massachusetts independent) he did a wonderful job in helping me understand how he reached them. And on many occasions he did change my conclusions based on his analysis.

I can only hope his replacement will be as analytical, respectful, and outspoken as James.

December 16, 2010 7:57 AM  
Blogger JE Cannon said...

What an absolute shame. James should be commended for taking a stand on difficult issues and often being the voice of reason. Whether you agreed with him or not, he is due respect for sticking to principle. Mt. Lebanon is a weaker community today as a result of his resignation. Way to go, school board. You've finally done it. Now you can run rampant with ZERO checks on what you're doing and nobdy internally who will ask questions. That is what you wanted, correct? I mean, one can't have unfettered power if there is any type of dissent.

Thank you, James, for your service to the community. I hope in the future you have the time and desire to serve the town in some capacity again. And good luck with your pursuit of another degree.

December 16, 2010 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will miss his honesty and integrity as well. I had the pleasure of his company at a couple of functions and respect his opinion and sincerely hope that he will continue to participate through other avenues to help make Mt. Lebanon a better place. Good luck to you James!
Matt Kluck

December 16, 2010 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will miss Mr. Fraasch. He was not afraid to stand up for his fellow residents as their elected representative. His leadership with both oars in the water righted the ship that was badly listing. He took open government seriously, and stood up to threats of censure because of it.
He filed his Statements of Financial Interest forms in a complete and timely manner.
I always felt comfortable calling him on the phone to discuss important matters, unlike his running mate. Mr. Fraasch kept his campaign promises after he was elected. He sees more important things in life than getting his name on the brass plaque.
I hope the remaining 8 directors see the importance of deliberating the filling of his vacancy in open public meetings instead of behind closed doors. David Huston

December 16, 2010 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finding a replacement with as much character James may be the toughest task this board will face any time soon!

Thanks James for everything.

Dean Spahr

December 16, 2010 2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As James' spouse, I find that he has done a great job amongst a lot of pressure. Never once did he bring home his frustration regarding the school board, and often I didn't know that people had been terrible to him during a meeting until I saw it on tv the next day. He enjoyed serving the community and he did it in the best way possible with the utmost character. He never took the easy road, because it was never the best one for MTL. He didn't just want to serve. He wanted to make Mt Lebanon a better community to live in.
Our family plans to celebrate at Mineos tonight.
Kelly Fraasch

December 16, 2010 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dean, the board will not be looking for anyone with as much character as James. They will be looking for another rubber stamp, though how much more damage can this board do? Mt. Lebanon residents owe James a big Thanks You for trying to stand up for us in the face of a board whose motto is "Often Wrong but Never in Doubt"
Joe Wertheim

December 16, 2010 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, you're absolutely correct to ask how much more damage can they do. Perhaps Mr. Fraasch in his usual style of looking forward uncovered the answer in a question to Ms. Klein in an Audit & Finance meeting.

James: "So Jan, if we use all of our allowance under Act 1 to increase taxes to pay for the second set of bonds [for the HS project], won't that put undue pressure on all of our other expenses?
Jan: Yes, that is correct
James: Won't that put all of our programs under pressure as well?
Jan: Yes

So Joe, the board has once again, formed community advisory committees tasked with finding 5% reductions in expenditures. Obviously, they won't find them in teacher/administration contracts just signed. Nor does it look like they'll show up in the HS project.

Any ideas of what programs Ms. Klein refers too?

Dean Spahr

December 16, 2010 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear James,

I figure you saved the community at least 47 million dollars because as I remember in the beginning the school board/district administrators wanted to spend about 160 million on the high school project. It's now about 113 million. I appreciate your transparent, honest, hard working, knowledgeable contributions while you were on the school board. Blessings to you and your family.
Sue Dixon

December 18, 2010 10:50 PM  

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