Aug 24th BOE meeting (with new “candid conversation”)

Just dashing off a quick post here, but last night’s meeting was certainly intersting. The News-Gazette’s Nicole Lafond has a couple articles, one from the meeting itself, one from others who were not able to make it:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/enrollment-increase-spurs-unit-4-facilities-talks.html

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/just-1-question-top-priority-unit-4.html

The district also posted a Vimeo video of the entire thing so you can watch it yourself, and I imagine the live-typing notes will be available in the very near future (probably already is online, just have to find it).

Lots was said, and there will be more. One thing that stuck out to me is that the board is going to try to host a moderated forum for Q&A with the community. They will start by asking that community members send email to u4boe@champaignschools.org, and they will then post those on a forum where they will respond. I imagine that will evolve – almost seems like it would be better to have a truly moderated forum and just bypass the email. But we will see.

More to come.

UPDATE: Live notes posted, via the new U4 Board Corner blog:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7NP1K1OYcJOTXhzTTA1blMwSHc/view

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6 Responses to “Aug 24th BOE meeting (with new “candid conversation”)”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Anyone else catch the coincidental irony of another NG article this morning?
    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/new-rules-proposed-private-meetings-ui.html

    I believe this is the biggest reason why the board decided to hold off on private discussions and save it for an open meeting. Kudos to them.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    I wanted to watch the video again to catch a different angle (and refresh my memory), so here are some highlights from the meeting. By the way, for a different perspective read Nicole Lafond’s article:
    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-25/enrollment-increase-spurs-unit-4-facilities-talks.html

    There were numerous conversations about “re-educating” or “bringing people up to speed” on what’s gone on so far. This not only includes the results of the consultants’ work (Dejong-Richter), but stretching back to “Great Schools Together” (2007-2008) and even the historical context of the Consent Decree. There seems to be the hanging question of “where are we starting from”, openly asked by the high school principals and echoed by the peanut gallery near where I was sitting. This was interspersed with speculation and comments about gathering data and making decisions based on numbers vs more emotional or subjective decisions. The administrative staff sitting on the side did indeed deliver a “firehouse” of information (hat tip Matt Foster), not forgetting to suggest that board members read all the existing documentation (and there is a mountain of it).

    Personally, I think it is great to make all that information available, but it is impractical and unreasonable to expect every single voter to have all that context in their head as they start to discuss future facilities. Again, yes, make it available for those that want to do the work of consuming it all, but for the average Joe Citizen, I think we might need a more narrative story. But how to make that objective? Does it have to be? At some point you need a small, bite-sized story to tell the voters and get them talking. To me, that is the most organic way to spur a community dialog. I appreciate that the board is making themselves vulnerable (hat tip Kathy Richards) and opening up this conversation – hopefully more and more folks will come to take advantage of the openness that the board is offering.

    At the beginning of the BOE meeting, there was a bit of talk about K-8. I applaud Lynn Stuckey for being passionate on this topic. I do have to wonder, though, as Kathy Shannon said, what problem are we solving? I love that we are having conversations about different ways to do school, but if the end goal is not a driving factor, will we not be forever chasing the wind?

    In fact, this was a big topic amongst those I was seated with, and something I hinted at during my “public comment” at the end of the meeting; I would like the board to set policy and direction. As agents of the people, what future school vision of our schools has the board received from the people they serve?

    Right now there seems to be an impression that a freight train of capacity issues is barreling down on us, and the danger is immenent. One high school principal shared that he easily has a math section with enough students for another teacher. We see our Kindergarten numbers rising and our schools “busting at the seams” as they try to accomodate. I wonder (I truly do not know), to what degree is that the responsibility of the board? To what degree does the board simply tell the Superintendent “this is what we want our schools to look like, so make it happen”?

    As I mentioned during my public comment, I wish the district administration could turn that “firehouse” on the public. And then I would have the public digest as much as they can and come back, collectively, with their recommendations, via the board.

    These are exciting times. 🙂 I am anxious to see what happens next.

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Also, here is an email I sent to the Board as a follow-up to the meeting:

    https://thecitizen4blog.wordpress.com/sept-4th-email-to-boe/

  4. Just sayin' Says:

    Can we just skip to the part where the new high school is put at Windsor and Staley?

    • charlesdschultz Says:

      Care to provide more context and/or elaborate a little more. I know you are being snarky, but surely you have something more to add. And as to feeding the trolls, this is a warning. 🙂


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