Today I received what appears to be a bulk mailing from Don Kermath asking folks to get more involved and speak up at the April 9th Board Meeting. For the curious, the following link is to a word document of my best effort to reproduce that letter electronically:
While in principle I totally agree it is awesome to get more folks involved at Board Meetings (and interacting with Board Members), there are a couple things that pique my curiousity.
1. Why isn’t the letter online? It is from “AVoiceforSchools.com” but not on that website. And not on the Voice’s facebook page. Weird. It’s not like the Board Member’s contact information is private.
2. I dislike the baggage of emotional buzzwords like “backdoor referendum” and “The Board broke its promise”. Maybe I am the only one of the 2300 petition signers that do not think these terms are appropriate. I kinda doubt it.
3. Where are the suggestions, the constructive critique, the alternatives? It doesn’t sit right with me to merely slap someone on the wrist.
4. Along that line, where is the consensus building? Granted, maybe I am hung up on consensus and blinded to more important things; but at this stage in my involvement, I cannot help but have a strong desire for some effort of working towards consensus. For me, that means the Board acknowledges (publicly) issues with the working cash bond and publicly expresses a desire to work on possibly alternatives, and that also means that the community steps up to the plate and offers those alternatives. That will involve coming to the table with facts in hand, being willing to set aside emotions for a time and try to not let too much subjectivity tint the glasses. (Yes, I realize my glasses are rose-colored right about now…..)
Chuck Jackson and I are cooking up an “open forum” for Monday, April 16th. It is still very tentative, but it will be in the evening and probably at the Champaign Public Library (can’t believe I have to pay $25 to rent a room…). We have not yet fully decided exactly how we want to do it, but I am very much inspired by Jamar’s open meeting from last week. How many people do you think we can expect?
Here is my own suggestion, my alternative, my constructive critique. A part of what is currently happening strikes me as bickering (not all of it, just bits and pieces). What would happen if the District compiled a historical and financial “Big Picture” (going all the way back to 2001 with the $200 million shopping list for maintenance) and said to the public “Ok, what do we do with this?” If the public cannot come up with any better ideas than what the Board is already doing….. On the other hand, if there are things we (the District Administrators, the Board, the community) can be doing better, let us weigh out the pros and cons and get to it!
Maybe April 16th should be “how to do schools better” night. *grin* Or what about a working group to explore ways to tackle the budget? Or maybe a kickoff meeting for a summer of gatherings to plan out the high school options, the curriculum and the future of Unit 4?
Come, help me brainstorm.