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Police Called to Help with Protesters at Greenfield School Board Meeting

The scheduled space couldn't hold the 130 protesters that came to the meeting, and the crowd was upset when the board refused to change locations.

Updated at 9:55 p.m.

Frustration with the direction the Greenfield School Board and its administration is taking boiled over Monday evening as protesters flooded into and briefly took over the regularly scheduled board meeting.

Dozens of protesters and speakers berated board members and district officials, voicing their displeasure with how the district teachers are being treated now that collective bargaining is prohibited.  

"We want a quality educational system; your actions don't match. You need to do something about that," said Andrew Misorski during the public comment period of the meeting.

The show of frustration stems from a number of changes Greenfield teachers have faced this summer due to the end of collective bargaining. These changes include a longer work calendar, an amended employee handbook and a new benefits package that requires them to pay more for their retirement and health benefits. 

"You have a choice; you can work with your employees and their union … or you can choose to do what you exactly have done - ignore the union and thereby ignore the rights of the employees," another speaker said. "These are honest, decent working people … they (the teachers) are no different than you. They have children, they send their kids to college, they have your values, yet you make unilateral decisions … Shame on you." 

As the regularly scheduled meeting began protesters, some with signs and others wearing T-shirts that displayed their support for public education, filled the meeting room to capacity with dozens more waiting to get into the room.  

"Move the meeting. You have to accommodate your public," protesters shouted before the meeting got underway. 

"We do not," superintendent Conrad Farner said in response, riling the crowd even further. 

School Board President Bruce Bailey began the meeting by slamming his gavel and shouting for order. The raucous crowd responded by chanting "shame" and yelling in unison for the meeting to be moved to a larger room to handle the approximate 130 protesters.

The protesters outside were not allowed in the meeting due to a 95-person capacity in the meeting room, Bailey said. 

Bailey also told the crowd he was unable to move the meeting because the agenda notified the public it would be held in the administrative building. He also told the crowd he is obligated to show the meeting on closed circuit television, only available in the meeting room. 

"Scoundrels," one protester shouted before Bailey attempted to move the meeting along through the agenda. 

About 10 minutes after the meeting began, arrived. Police officers stood outside in the lobby of the meeting room. One officer spoke on a cell phone as the others, it appeared, waited for instructions. 

Some protesters stood outside, watching and listening to the meeting through open windows. Others listened and watched in the lobby, peaking in through open doors. 

During the meeting, more than 100 people sat or stood in the meeting room, according to two head counts that included board members and district officials. 

After gaining control of the crowd, Bailey worked quickly and forcefully through the agenda.

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Ben Hogan August 26, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Shouting, name calling, and rude behavior rarely accomplishes anything in this world. If you want to speak and be heard sometimes a softer voice gets more attention.
David Cotey August 26, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Hello all. This afternoon we took a closer look at several factors that led to Monday's protests, including the letter to teachers everyone is talking about and the decision to not move the meeting.
grs August 27, 2011 at 04:01 AM
They don't understand (or chose not to), Julie. Their "solution" is to drag everyone down to their miserable level instead of fighting for equitable solutions for all. Brutish, shameful and cowardly behavior. Let's be thankful they are not teachers! Thanks for continuing your dedication to the profession, in spite of the vilification from the mean-spirited and misguided.
grs August 27, 2011 at 04:09 AM
Ron: I am sorry you are out of work. It is shameful that so many corporations are moving jobs overseas as they search for cheaper labor. Our country is the richest we've ever been and it is terrible that your wife and you are/were being exploited by your for-profit organizations so the top could earn extra cash at your (and others') expense.
Ron Tramm August 27, 2011 at 04:35 AM
grs, Thank you for your comments, I do find outsourcing to be a singular largest outrage that our pols are impotent to change. Not that they can't, but rather are in the pockets of so many PAC's and lobbyists that they won't. But I owned my own contracting company and made the decision to close the doors because building just isn't happening. Secondly my wife works for a non-profit. And the only ones we are/were being exploited by are our own politicians. They place more importance in special interests and rhetoric....this applies to both sides of the aisle.

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