The Bartlesville Astronomical Society Board of Directors met to discuss several issues, including preparations for the upcoming election of officers at the October meeting, the need for additional volunteer support to help distribute some of the club responsibilities and the limitations imposed on the club by the lack of liability insurance. There was plenty of discussion, leading to a number of good ideas and several important decisions.
October Election of Officers
Discussion of preparations for elections began by noting that it has been many years since BAS has conducted formal election of officers. We reviewed the existing club bylaws to make sure we understood the election procedure. They specify staggered two year election terms, with President and Information/Publicity Officer being elected in even numbered years and Vice President and Treasurer/Secretary being elected in odd numbered years. Since it has been so long since our last elections, we discussed the possibility of electing all four offices this October to restart the process, but eventually concluded that it would be best to stick with the original procedure and elect only President and Information/Publicity this year. It was also agreed that nominations should be submitted to Arden Strycker (nominations committee) by September 15.
Volunteers for Club Responsibilities
The next issue discussed was the current imbalance of club responsibilities. Too few members are overloaded doing too much of the work involved in keeping the club active. A list of club responsibilities were reviewed and ideas were discussed for ways to enlist BAS members to help more. Mike Woods volunteered to become the BAS newsletter editor and Steve Plank has agreed to handle meeting room scheduling and set up. There is still a need for additional volunteers. A list of responsibilities has been added to our public website at <http://sites.google.com/site/bartlesvilleastronomyclub/files/club-responsibilities> .
Like the need for volunteers, the restrictions imposed on club activities by our lack of liability insurance is a recurring theme that has appeared frequently in club communications. Without insurance, our ability to do public outreach is non-existent, and that limits our ability to attract new members. It was unanimously agreed among Board members that, one way or another, we need to find a way to acquire liability insurance. We have more than enough money to purchase insurance for one year, but we won't be able to maintain this year after year. However, it was pointed out that it might be a worthwhile investment to incur the cost of insurance for one year, with the possibility that the public outreach would allow us to attract new members, thereby reducing the overall per member cost of insurance in future years.
One way to resolve the insurance problem would be to raise dues enough to cover the additional cost. With our current membership, this would probably require yearly dues of $30 to $35 per member. However, as mentioned above, any additional new members attracted as a result of our public activities would then lower the per member cost of insurance in future years. In an effort to find even more cost effective ways of acquiring insurance, we will be investigating the possibility of per event insurance. The hope is that we might be able to get a cheaper policy that covers a limited number of public events per year.
Any increase in dues requires approval by the membership, so this will be a topic discussed at the September meeting.
BAS Resource Checkout
Our discussion opened up several promising ideas. One of the most interesting is the realization that between existing club resources, such as club telescopes, and personal resources that some members are willing to lend, such as books, we could expand access for all our members. What's needed is a convenient on-line resource checkout system that makes it easy to record and track on-loan club and member resources. We may find that for some resources, a checkout system will work best if coupled with a "late fee" or "user fee" to encourage timely return of loaned items. While it's not yet fully functional, a prototype checkout system has been added to our BvilleAstro Yahoo Group at <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BvilleAstro/app/giveaway/view/table> . Feel free to give it a try and offer your feedback to John Grismore.
The Board also discussed meetings and programs. The point was made that the broad range of interests and varied levels of knowledge among BAS members could benefit from some basic, introductory presentations of many topics. The Astronomy Club of Tulsa occasionally has a short 10 minute "101" presentation for just such purposes at their meetings. It might be "Comets 101" or "Eyepieces 101" or ... This seems like a worthwhile approach that we hope to add to future meetings as a brief adjunct to our primary program. We will be requesting suggestions for 101 topics and presenters in the near future.
The Board meeting covered a lot of ground, discussed a lot of topics and made some important decisions. Members with additional questions about the meeting can direct them to any of the current BAS officers.