My letter to the Board follows – I am linking this to my previous post about the board meeting.
[sheesh, this wordpress formatting is HORRID – some kind of div fetish….]
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the Board,
I was unable to attend yesterday’s Board Meeting but I did intend to state a couple of things in Public Comment. So I am resorting to email as a secondary method to communicate.
First, I wish to again congratulate the Board on their choice of Ileana Saveley, and wish Ms. Saveley a satisfying and most successful term(s) of service with the Board.
Next, I wish to again implore the Board and the Administration to further seek out ways to achieve transparency and build trust with the community. There are two areas of immediate relevancy in regards to the direction of the School District and the community. For each, I list the issue and a possible solution – I am open to other possibilities as well.
1. High School Options.
Issue: During the Feb 27th Board Meeting, board members discussed the idea of removing the “one high school option” from the table after listening to a presentation by high school principals. In previous board meetings, the Garwood site was suggested to be taken off the table, as well as the “Boulder Ridge Site” and “Option 5” (the “status quo” option, or “do nothing different”). The various options seem to be in flux, which indicates that discussion is happening and is thus a good thing. My concern is that it is not obvious (to me) how community input is playing a role in these discussions.
Possible Solution: Do not take action until several open forums/community meetings have occurred. These open forums should first aim to gather input, then perhaps run like workshops or charrettes to implement what was heard. Provide for and allow the public to interact with board members, Administrators and experts. I understand a PR firm is coming to help – please do not wait until those details are in place. I also acknowledge Ms. Holly Nelson’s work in interviewing members of the community and providing feedback via her own website.
2. Working Cash Bonds.
Issue: It is my observation that those who are opposed to the issuance of WCB have the perception they are not being listened to. While the Administration and the Board have indeed spent several board meetings discussing WCB over a few months, there has been a lack of significant public participation as stakeholders at the same table. On top of that, I am concerned about the apparent fluidity of the technical details; the dates of what work will be done and when it is scheduled to begin and whether or not contracts have been issued. I expect a certain amount of dynamism as discussions occur and terms are negotiated in board meetings, but in regards to the public sphere these details seem to come out at awkward moments.
Possible Solution: As with the first issue (“High School Options”), establish an environment where the public can freely interact with board members and relevant administration staff in an effort of joint discovery, learning and searching for optimal solutions to existing problems; plan, organize and promote truly public forms that encourages and fosters a dialog with the public. Additionally, when new facts are learned, provide an information delivery vehicle (ie, district website) that communicates these facts on important topics.
Please note that there are many of us who really do support Unit 4 and you as Board Members. We are passionate because we care; please do misconstrue our energy as angst on a personal level. Allow us to join with you and work together towards making our schools great by throwing open the doors of communication and collaboration at the District level.
Lastly, I wish to express a desire for the IT Department in light of the newly created position of “Director of Education Technology”. It seems to me that this new role overlaps a bit with the current duties being carried out by the Director of Information Technology. However it all works out in the end, I ask the Board to ensure that there is a focus on taking advantage of the tools offered by social media, and to use the school’s website as a portal of communication, a tool of engagement with the community.
I thank you all for your time, your commitment to teaching our children and your persistence in doing what is right. I appreciate your hard work and long hours.
I eagerly look forward to your response and to rolling up my sleeves and working with you on tough issues in our school district.
With humble respect,