Back in May, Mr. Tommy Lockman informed me that Unit 4 was going to start putting the BOE documents online:
I meant to make a post about it, but never did. *sigh* Anyway, when I received the latest note that the BOE put their agenda for the September 12th meeting up, I went to take a gander. And I am impressed. While it is understandable that some agenda items are merely placeholders, there is a good amount of detail in things like 4.B. “Recognitions”, 8.B,C,D (Reports/Discussion), and others. 8.B. caught my attention. Administrative Salaries and Benefits. I am not going to witch hunt right now, but I know others have had to FOIA this information in the past, so I see it as a good step that Unit 4 is putting it out there. A good step, I said. 🙂
Other goodies in there. 8.C Report on the EEE. I am torn about this. Here are the posted “top recommendations”:
- Provide high quality professional development for both academic and non-academic staff focused on teaching and supporting students of diverse backgrounds.
- Create safe and competent spaces for staff to engage in ongoing discussions of diversity issues (particularly, but not limited to race and racism). One model is Learning Communities. It could be organized to make opportunities available
- Create safe and competent settings for students to express what they are experiencing in school. Provide opportunities for students to develop and express voice and resistance.
- Develop and provide elective for credit courses at the high school level that identify and develop venues for students to critically engage issues of social history and race.
So these are all good. But here is the problem. Dr. Mark Aber recommended these back in 2000 and again in 2009 (which did not get “published” until 2011). Where are the “safe settings”? I mean, come on! All I see is talk. Where is the walk?
But this isn’t a post about the EEE, per se. That really needs its own post. Glad to see more information available online. 🙂
8.D. Preliminary report on finances. Holy documentation, Batman! A 67-page report!? Yikes. My hat is off to whomever put this massive thing together. But 67 pages?!? Who is supposed to read that? Again, I give credit to the author(s) for making these 10lb doorstops (funny old anachronism, eh?) a little more palatable; a sprinkling of graphs, some “slightly-easier-to-read” pages, and especially the last 7 pages, the “Conclusion”. In very “Promises made, Promises kept”-esque fashion, each objective of the report is detailed with examples of how the goal was met. I like that. And then I start to read them a little closer. Let’s take a look at that last objective:
5. secure community understanding and support of the fiscal requirements of a good educational program.
Examples of How the Board’s Goals Were Met:
- Budget Presentation – “Where Does All the Money Go?”
- … [ skipped because I have to type all this by hand ]
- Implemented “Promises Made, Promises Kept” Committee to increase confidence in the District
- Implemented “Facilities Committee” to continue work of the Vision Committee
- Quarterly meetings of the Key Communicators Network to keep parents informed of Unit Four news
Each of those are old. I mean, that does not make less of them, but they are not new by any means. One could copy’n’paste this exact same thing into next year’s 2012-2013 Budget document. And yes, I am picking on this one for a reason. The other objectives have more concrete goals that have been achieved (and accompanying examples).
Why am I picking on this one? Well, let me ask, was the community’s understanding and support of the fiscal requirements of a good educational program secured? And is it appropriate that the measure of this goal having been attained are things that the Board and Administration did several years ago?
Unit 4 has an image problem, among other issues. Putting the Agendas and all this information online does indeed increase transparency. Due to this increased transparency, we can see some holes. What do you do when you see holes. Hopefully you patch them up. 😉 Putting all this stuff online does not instamagically mean that everyone knows the score. In fact, I only stumbled (in the true sense of web stumbling) upon these items because I was curious. Finding golden nuggets buried in Meeting Minutes and Agendas does not seem optimal. Depending on bloggers, online magazines and news papers to tout your qualities (and/or expose your weaknesses) also does not seem optimal.
So here is my own conclusion. Kudos to Unit 4 for moving in this direction. I realize it is a small step. Now it is the obligation of the community and the school district to collaborate (which means “work together“, to co-labor) on patching up the holes. Or tear it down completely and start anew. *grin*