Early December email thread concerning board candidates and current issues

The following is a long, wandering email thread that I helped to kick off – many others carried the torch. I felt that it was important to get this dicsussion out in the open. Even though there is a bit of reading (much more digestable when participating in the discussion “live”), there are many points worth bring before the community for more deliberation. As a slight warning, there are also examples of how email is not the best medium for a good argument. Again, I am posting this for reference.


Good morning,

I have chewed on some “non-negotiables” based on our previous discussions; I am hoping these reflect what you have said so far. This is my first draft, but I hope to publish this soon. And as a reminder, I love it that we all have different ideas – my goal is to try to find what we can all agree on.

  • Board members shall act upon the realization that they are the sole representative of the “owners”, where the “owners” are all voters and/or tax payers within the school district. They are the moral agents of the owners. Therefore, board members have an obligation and responsibility to continually be “in the community” to collect opinions, perspectives, feedback and direction.
  • Board members shall create and maintain a simple set of board policies (distinct and seperate from state mandates and school business policies) that outline, in easy-to-understand and easy-to-read language, the overall objectives of the community.
  • Board members shall govern the school district such that all decisions, discussion and deliberation is focused on the basic goals established by the community and codified by the board policies.

Note these are very broad directives; there has been discussion about “infill”, “urban planning” and “equitable education”, which I believe can be captured in newly created board policies, but I do not want to make those “non-negotiable” for board members when in fact the community is the one that should voice those specific things. Does that make sense? As such, the “non-negotiables” are more about what board members do rather than what they believe. It leaves room for individual board members to pursue their own passions and strengths.

The way I see it, if board members applied these “non-negotiables” to their job as a board member, they would drastically change the face of “board meetings”, not to mention the way they interact with stakeholders. Which I think is at the core of what we all want – else we would not be having discussions about board candidates. 🙂

Also, I make a distinction about “board policies”. My perspective is that the current board policies really suck. They are written mostly by lawyers, mostly from representatives of the state government, and deal with way too much of “school business”. They are too hard to read, way too voluminous, and do not reflect, AT ALL, what the local community desires. We need something better. Something new that really reflects the priorities of our community, like infill and equitable education that truly makes education a game-changer for ALL children.

I crave your feedback. Even if you only wish to respond to me directly, I would appreciate it. The more feedback the better. 🙂


Chuck Jackson
Dec 2

I guess everyone else is responding only to Charles – what fun is that?

I like the ideas, I like the focus on process over policy but I don’t see enough specifics which lead to people knowing whether we did what we said we would do. While it is easy to tear down, one of the things I am trying to learn is that rather than say, “this will never work because” and list all my complaints that I try instead to say, this is a great beginning, please allow me to add to it. I want to honor your first attempt and to add to the effort rather than rip it apart.

Here is my attempt at a rewrite in order to make it more specific and straightforward. Obviously it is more than a mere re–write as I add some of my own thinking. I hope someone else can take the next step and further refine the message.

1. Members of the Champaign BOE are elected to be the specific representatives of the community who operates our schools. The BOE is not an interest group but elected to give specific articulation to local control of local education. The primary duties of BOE members are to listen to the community and communicate the philosophical direction and priorities of the community to the staff for implementation; the board is a bridge between the community and the staff. As candidates, we pledge to create regular opportunities to listen to community members and specifically to reach out to those who are frequently unheard due to any reason but specifically we have in mind those whose lack of comfort or unfamiliarity with the system causes them to remain unheard. One example of this is to create weekly “office hours” where anyone who wishes to may speak with a member of the board. A second example is to conduct (at least some) board meetings in a way that promotes rather than restricts public participation. Should it prove impossible to change the board meetings in this way, we will create other opportunities for the public to have a voice and regular access to the board as a whole.

2. It is crucial to make the esoteric and often arcane processes of government and education accessible to all. Therefore all policies of the BOE will be written in simple, easily understood language (for example, at a sixth grade reading level) including glossaries and footnotes when necessary. Such policies will also be available in any language which represents the native language of more than 1% of the student population; these translations will be similarly easily understood, nontechnical language.

3. Communication to and among the BOE shall be made public (expect where prohibited by law) on the main website with a public computer available in any school owned or operated building for residents to be aware of any communication the board is engaged in. This does not apply to individual board members as each individual is without specific power. Communication may additionally be volunteered by the member. Any email that is substantially the same and sent to more than two members shall be included in this archive.

It seems backward to be articulating our top priorities when we have not had a rigorous debate on what they should be but perhaps there is enough agreement on some things (and a general desire to keep the list small) that it is enough. I know I have additional issues that I will not compromise.


Charles Schultz
Dec 2
Nope, you are the first to respond. 🙂


Kathy Richards
Dec 2
Hi all,

Thanks for these thoughts, Charles and Chuck. I’ve now returned from my Thanksgiving travels and ready to re-engage.

I notice that Charles’s 3 priorities are more philosophical and Chuck has made them more concrete. Still, as you both have said, these are issues focused on process over policy. I had a similar bifurcation in mind when I was grappling with how I proposed acting as a board member, except I ended up envisioning improvements in tone and in content. Process vs. policy is not quite the same division as mine, but it’s related, and it’s helpful. Good food for thought, and awfully important to keep in mind when talking about how we would build on past success (instead of going all negative).

What I’m not sure about is leaving content and/or policy completely off the table. I say this for pragmatic reasons (I think it’s awfully hard to run a philosophical election campaign) as well as for idealistic reasons (I really do disagree with the content of some past board decisions). Now, as Charles argues, significant reforms to process might well also solve any lingering divisions about content. And as Chuck argues, the board exists in its purest form to funnel the will of the public to the staff in charge of implementation, and should not be treated as a platform for special interests.

However, I guess I’m a little less of a purist. I would be suspicious of a candidate who didn’t have some content issues he/she felt really strongly about. Decision-making and disagreements fundamentally motivate people to act, and I think there’s nothing to apologize for about that. Now, should a candidate pledge to blindly move forward on his/her own course no matter what a majority of the community wants? Of course not.

There’s a super tricky and almost indefinable middle ground here, and I optimistically plan to stake it out. Improve process where possible, build on past good work, learn lots of new information, stay flexible, and do my darnedest (really spellcheck? darnedest???) to bring as much of the community as possible along for the ride.

So all this to say…
I’m not sure I’m in a position to adopt either Charles’s or Chuck’s list of 3 items as my own. But I see where the two of you are coming from, I want to learn more, and I hope my comments here have been helpful.

Cheers,
Kathy R.


Kathy Shannon
Dec 2
I am sorry I haven’t been involved in this discussion up until now—I’m way overscheduled today. But I’ll go further than Kathy R and say that I believe the best way to know the will of the people is through the election. I would bet we’ll get more people participating in that than we will at any combination of community forums over the next 4 years. Therefore the clearest way to find out what people want is to run on the issues and let people decide.

Kathy S


Chuck Jackson
Dec 2
For the most part, I agree with adding content as I mentioned in my response. I thought this first attempt was to define what we all agree on, not what we will run on. So both the Kathys have said that’s not enough to run on which likely means we agree on that too.

It is my usual way of doing things is to make a list of all the possibilities and choose from among them. Implemented in this space it seems like that looks like listing all the possible issues and then whittle them down to what we agree on using some method. We can choose based on level of importance or level of agreement but yes, I am hoping to agree about more than process issues.

To therefore attack it in a different way my most important issues are:

1. To accomplish the educational purpose of the school district for all children. Most notably to eliminate the achievement gap between african american students and white students but also to support the most vulnerable students and to measure our success based on them rather than the least vulnerable.

2. To invite the community into a productive, consensus–driven conversation about what we want out of K-12 education and that we want it for all our children. In short, to attempt to unite the community in a holistic, unified way (across racial fractures, class fractures, town/ gown fractures and other cultural fractures rather than a winner–takes–all model to control Unit 4.

3. I feel strongly that the proposed Central location is bad for equity and would be a transportation nightmare. That said, I am open to the best ideas of the community. BAcked into a corner I favour using the existing building and creating a better system to accommodate space issues off site including a shared athletic stadium. I am open to a third high school either as a speciality facility focusing on votech or similar or some specialised magnet school. I do not enter the campaign with a best solution in mind.

I feel strongly about other things but they sometimes seem hard to campaign on because they are complex and more implementation than philosophy (for example promoting relationships between student families and staff), developing a greater connection between UIUC and local schools, etc.

Rather than say this isn’t enough, tell us, what do you want to see? What’s important to you?


Kathy Shannon
Dec 2
Hi Chuck,
I mostly agree with you on these issues, and I think they aren’t too far off from the goals we talked about awhile back. I have heard several people mention the “town/gown” divide in the last several weeks, both in terms of the lack of an ongoing partnership and the fact that many faculty seem distant from local government issues, especially schools. I know many faculty who send their children to private schools, but I have no idea how prevalent it is.

Kathy S


Kerris Lee
Dec 3
I agree with Charles first items on how business/meetings are conducted and the responsibility of a school board member.

I do not agree with any addition to a preconceived notion of location or as a platform for running as data/information should drive that decision and a school board member duty is to be informed of the facts before making a decision. I think making a decision without the facts would be premature and irresponsible of a school board member.

As board members it is our duty to take in creditable information, display that information to the community for feedback, and make informed decisions based on supporting facts.
Best,

Kerris


Chuck Jackson
Dec 3
Kerris,

I’m uncomfortable with this stance. I think Kathy is proposing that in some sense that a candidate’s position on location becomes a plebiscite on an important community decision, why is that bad? Maybe I’m missing something but the way I her your position it sounds a lot like, “the general public can’t understand all the complexities involved in choosing a school site and so it shouldn’t be an issue in the campaign.” I’m looking for clarification on wehther I am misunderstanding your position but if I understand it correctly, I think it undermines the value of transparency.

Just trying to be clear,
Chuck


Kerris Lee
Dec 3
Hi Chuck,

It’s a misunderstanding.

I am saying that a board member duty is to take in all of the facts then make an informed decision. A candidate that is making a choice despite the facts does not lend much credibility to the issue that he/she is running on. This is why it’s bad because it would be ignoring facts.

I.e. The board was for country fair. Did we end up with that selection?

We were for Spaulding until we saw it did not work.

Data is the driver

As for the public. People have made their decisions based on facts, emotion, for change, and against change. Some have read the facts and others have not. The public is entitled to do so. I never said or mentioned that the public could not understand the complexity.

However, a board member does not have that luxury as you would be an at large person meaning you represent everyone and cannot ignore the 8 years of research and data that has been collected nor should be a 1 stance thing. This is why it’s bad representation and does not lend itself to a group of openness

That’s why I agree With Charles.

As for transparency. It is not fourth coming to meet in a backroom with a group and ask for money purely on an aspect that does not matter

I have not seen data that one location vs another location better educates our kids.

Best


Kathy Richards
Dec 3
Kerris, respectfully that’s a load of hooey. If you believe location does not affect education, then I will keep trying to persuade you that it does. But please don’t tell me In the meantime that an issue that is important to many of your constituents is *not important.*

Just as there are issues that are dear to your heart that helped motivate you to get on the board — I’m thinking of your entrepreneurial initiatives — other people have issues dear to their hearts. If the majority of Unit 4 voters were against pursuing entrepreneurial initiatives, you’re telling me you would just abandon them? (I sure hope you wouldn’t). Please respect my priorities even if you don’t share them. Especially if you don’t share them.

As for transparency, that’s our goal for elected officials. I’m glad you share that goal. The rest of us are still private citizens with no public mandate.

I’m confident that we have much we agree on, above all taking positive action for Unit 4’s students.

KR


Kerris Lee
Dec 3
Kathy respectfully I disagree on location..if it’s a lot of hooey. Then show me the data that suggests that.

As for location I am open to solutions to infill and out fill and otherwise. However I was referring to non negotiating terms for the group which is fine for your stance, but as Charles suggested and I agree should not be for a board/ group

In terms of passion I am talking about financial reform, pedagogy, transparency, equity, and policy innovation for our kids education. It’s not just entrepreneurship although these teaching will augment our kids education like we did in computational thinking in Kenwood.

I can’t say the same for location.

Pedagogy is absolutely critical for our kids, community, and smart workforce development.

This should be the driver of any location. Location first is putting the cart before the horse if there is no pedagogy tied to it. I am open and will continue to be optimistic and open to thoughts or solutions to a location for an infill. Also, I have given proposed solutions at the meeting we had. However, I have not heard a persuasive argument on the alternative or how it augments our kids education.

Best


Kerris Lee
Dec 3
Sorry and I do agree we agree on most issues perhas just not this approach. Please do not take it as if we do not.

Also I am one who is in favor for debate in order to bring resolution

Best


Kathy Richards
Dec 3
Kerris, I am totally in favor of more debate. Especially because I might get to use more words like “hooey.” 😉

So, data. Fair enough. I will work on providing more concrete data to support my assertion that location impacts education.

In the meantime, though, please realize that if school location matters to so many people in the community besides me, respectful disagreement would suggest that you not dismiss it as unimportant.

Cheers,
Kathy

P.S. Do you have any coffee date office hours coming up?


Chuck Jackson
Dec 3
I’d love to get together and debate in real time. Anyone have a large unused room? My house is available. Some friends told me that there is a closed door room available to reserve (in exchange for buying food) at Hardee’s on south neil street.
Any takers? Weekends seems most realistic.


Pattsi Petrie
Dec 3

to Chuck, Kathy, Kerris, Gretchen, Erin, Liz, Holly, Laura, Lori, Kathy, William, me
CPL, Atlanta Bread, are other mtg space possibilities.

P2


Kerris Lee
Dec 9
Sorry for the delay is response. As you know there has been some pressing matters in protest that needed attending.

As for debate any place sounds good to me.

As for another referendum. It is to early to say, but certainly a possibility.

Best


Chuck Jackson
Dec 16
Just to put it out there, I will not be running for school board.

My concern is no less, my energy is no less, my commitment is no less than it has ever been but it is being channeled in other directions at the moment.

Allow me to comment on engagement and ask an essential question of how do people like me participate? At the moment it seems like you can be in one of three categories: completely disconnected, aware (with or without connections), or on the school board. Where is the category for opinionated? – or some space between simply being aware and being an elected official?

People currently have the illusion of being aware and connected is that space but that is a space open to a pretty small group and I would argue almost completely cut off to low–income and minority members of our community.

To put it simply, where do I fit in now? While continuing to do what I have been doing isn’t bad, it doesn’t *feel* like I can speak into the policy debate because I don’t have the “admission fee” of winning office (or being important and influential on my own terms).


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Hi Chuck,

I think you have been a champion for our kids and that does not need a school board seat to do so. It’s perfectly okay to have opinions and for you to voice them. You are also a father with kids in the school system and a taxpayer so you have a right just like any other board member to say what you see what’s wrong in our schools.

The issue of being a school member is that some people only see the bad and never see the good and make preconceived notions about the district without data…just assertions

What I have been on the board and what I ask you to continue to be is pragmatic, active, and weigh on the discussion not from one side but from both sodes of the argument and I trust you will. 🙂 Some school board members I know still believe in public service and will listen to you. They way we did at Cafe Kopi on the SRO issue. You can still effect change there too 🙂

All of us should champion the kids that come from low social economic background. For me that is actually moving the needle and feel I have moved that needle and hope to keep the momentum. Perhaps we are doing it in our own way. I am one of those kids that we are trying to serve today.

I hope you are open to keeping the conversation open and keeping people on the school board and that are running for the school board honest.

Hope to talk to you soon

(Typing from cell phone. Please forgive typos)

Best


Kathy Richards
Dec 16
Hear hear Kerris!! Well put!
Kathy R.


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Thank you Kathy and congrats!


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Hi All

I will have another coffee date tomorrow at Kopi from 1pm to 4pm

Hope you all come by and chat.

Best


Kathy Shannon
Dec 16
I’m sorry to hear that you won’t be running, but I understand. One of the concerns I’ve heard from several people lately is about how we can recruit people for the board—we’ve had a lot of turnover in the last several years, and many other good people who just can’t find the time and/or energy to run. Clearly it’s a common problem!

I think we need to find ways to make it easier for large numbers of people to participate in the conversation, and we need to make it clear that their opinions are welcome. If you don’t feel completely comfortable speaking to the issues, having run for office twice, there must be many other people out there who feel even less comfortable. Kerris’ “office hours” are a good start, and maybe having them in the evening would be a good way to increase participation.

Kathy S


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Absolutely,

Again as I proposed… coffee office hours from 1pm-4pm tomorrow at Cafe Kopi. Going later may hinder people because they may have families to attend too.

Best,

Kerris


Pattsi Petrie
Dec 16
There might be two additional means to improve public participation–

1. Change the BOE rules as to how the public can speak to the board–length of time, set up special study sessions when the board is there only to listen to the public, acknowledge what people say so that the speaker feels he/she has been heard–not a two-way conversation.

2. Set up a follow up mechanism to respond to a public concern/problem/crisis, not during the meeting, but the next day so the public does not feel that what was stated falls on deaf ears.

And last but not least, hold town halls, knock on doors, go to organizations to speak, etc. become part of the crowd.

P2


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
I agree Pattsi

Perhaps we can scale this to city council, park district, and county board? What should our deliverable date be to have this implemented by all governmental bodies? That way we have a standard that all can agree with? For example I don’t know how the decision with the county jail is going with the county….

Or does anyone know what is happened to UC2B

Or what is the real reason Dodds is not being offered to the school district?

Please let me know a time line. I think citizen outreach should be scalable to all government entities. Don’t you?

The last part that you mentioned we as a school board do already.

Best


Chuck Jackson
Dec 16
Don’t take this personally Kerris but it must be invisible then. Being part of the crowd does not equate to what I perceive the BOE does and thats offer exclusive access to people who know how to ask the right way.


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Hi Chuck,

I think your missing my point. I agree with Pattsi. My pointing out is that none of the other governmental entities do this as well.( don’t really hear anything about that) So, there should be a standard that we hold all governmental entities that directly effect i.e. (the county board, park board, and city council)l us as a community.

In addition, we have done this and its not invisible…perhaps, you were absent. We did this when talking about the location of the school, going out for the referendum, SRO, so on….. ( we had community input at board meeting and gave them the floor. We as a board did not comment because we were there to listen. Also, we had town halls and advertised its location. Again we cannot make people come out, but we hoped they did and even provided refreshments. ( what do you say those parties that choose not to participate or come out? That its the board fault?) (when does it ever become those peoples responsibility or fault for not coming out?) + committees that people are free to join by the way)

We don’t give people privilege to accessing the board. We only require that you ask and that you know what your asking. If you dont know what your asking …. then it becomes really hard for us to know what to get for you. Try this with kids, your bank, or anyone and the response will be similar. If you have asked other member of the board, but not me ( which you havent) or anyone else then I think its wrong to characterize everyone as a (BOEM) since you did not ask everyone. I think that is a fair comment.

In closing, we should look at how both sides may be addressing the issues incorrectly before we criticize the other side. The BOE are taxpayers and community people too.

Best,

Kerris


Charles Schultz
Dec 16
just some quick thoughts:

  • this is a great online/email discussion, but I cannot help but think that it would be an even better in-person discussion. 🙂 Or at the very least, open to more people. Forum/blog?
  • Chuck and I, with an assist from Pattsi, attempted to introduce “conversational meetings” into Board Policy back in 2012. The board of the time said “thanks but no thanks.

The REWIND group (Jon Rector) has another email thread going with some good discussion, which about half of your are seeing; i hate these silo’ed email discussions. 🙂 But there are good things being said.


Chuck Jackson
Dec 16
It is the choice of the speaker apparently. I was at a total of one meeting, emailed my regrets to another and they apparently had enough of me. I have not been invited to that conversation or meeting again. Given that I just decided not to run this morning, that can’t be the reason…


Kathy Shannon
Dec 16
Chuck, I think there was only one meeting you missed, so it may not have been intentional.


Kathy Richards
Dec 16
Hi Kerris et al,

Addressing the discussion here primarily between Chuck and Kerris about board-public communication:

Kerris, I hope to be able to stop by Kopi tomorrow, at least for a bit. You have been putting yourself out there in public to discuss board issues, and let me state again that it is greatly appreciated.

That being said, I hope you can appreciate the irony — what Chuck said about feeling like board access is restricted to an “in” group? I’m feeling like a part of an “in” group right now, because I’m on this email thread, and that’s the only way I know about your Kopi plans for tomorrow. I found out about another Kopi opportunity through the comments on a blog post of Charles’s. Otherwise I would have no knowledge that you have set aside 3 hours of your time tomorrow.

I looked just now on the Unit 4 website, through the news and announcements, through the Board section, and found no notice about your office hours. I have seen no notice in the News-Gazette. No flyer came home with my children. Speaking of the Board as a unit now — not as individuals — This. Is. A. Public. Relations. Problem.

After the referendum failed at the beginning of November, I addressed the Board the following week with my concerns. I talked with you. I met with Dr. Wiegand. I met with the media. I emailed everyone to follow up and read all the newspaper articles that followed up. Nowhere did I see any information about how public input was being officially solicited and incorporated into the big decision that has been facing the Board ever since: whether to put a referendum on the ballot in April, and what proposal it might contain. Please let me know if I’m wrong, because I have tried in good faith to be a part of that conversation.

This is a specific example of feeling as though one has to be a part of an exclusive group in order to fully participate in the workings of Unit 4 — and this time I am most definitely not “in.” I don’t even know who is “in.”

Now I hear that public input is welcome at the special board meeting on January 5th — 13 days before any final version of the referendum is due. That’s simply too late.

Again, to be clear, I’m not complaining about you as an individual. I’m discussing the board of which you are but one member — albeit the member that has at least stepped forward to listen to the ramblings of this particular group.

cheers,
Kathy R.


Kerris Lee
Dec 16
Hi Kathy,

Thank you for taking time to give your insight. I am going line by line on your argument (not to persuade you or anyone, but to offer context because that is key) Answers in bold. (Also, I agree Charles Maybe we can all meet in person at Kopi to discuss?)

That being said, I hope you can appreciate the irony — what Chuck said about feeling like board access is restricted to an “in” group? I’m feeling like a part of an “in” group right now, because I’m on this email thread, and that’s the only way I know about your Kopi plans for tomorrow. I found out about another Kopi opportunity through the comments on a blog post of Charles’s. Otherwise I would have no knowledge that you have set aside 3 hours of your time tomorrow.
K: Kathy I just decided to do this because I had to look at my schedule and see if I could do it and wanted to before the holidays. I will ask Stephanie to tweet it out which she normally does (ask Charles) and I normally inform Charles as Charles informs the following that he has. (ask Charles). Do not make a mistake. Unit#4 does not have to twitter this out. I am not a school board…I am a young attractive…(JK 🙂 I am a community member that is simply meeting other community members to hopefully address issues. That is time I take out of my day….not the school districts.

That is on me not the school districts. (School board members have facebook accounts and twitter that I normally tweet out when I am going to do this. As for News-Gazette….talking to them to write a story that I am going to be at Kopi isnt exactly big news to them. I mean they have not written about computational thinking that I have been doing at Kenwood and allocated a budget to all schools to have (I doubt my coffee will be of interest) In closing, while it would be great to scream to the world that I am meeting at the coffee place…I dont have email address for all parents and I doubt you do too….

Please know just because it means the world to us does not make it world news to everyone and we have to respect that too. Agree?

I looked just now on the Unit 4 website, through the news and announcements, through the Board section, and found no notice about your office hours. I have seen no notice in the News-Gazette. No flyer came home with my children. Speaking of the Board as a unit now — not as individuals — This. Is. A. Public. Relations. Problem.

After the referendum failed at the beginning of November, I addressed the Board the following week with my concerns. I talked with you. I met with Dr. Wiegand. I met with the media. I emailed everyone to follow up and read all the newspaper articles that followed up. Nowhere did I see any information about how public input was being officially solicited and incorporated into the big decision that has been facing the Board ever since: whether to put a referendum on the ballot in April, and what proposal it might contain. Please let me know if I’m wrong, because I have tried in good faith to be a part of that conversation.
K:Kathy I think you have to put this in context : I have said publicly that the district commission (please check the tape on the Unit#4 website) (this is right after the referendum and you brought petition signatures, remember?) I said to the district to commission people that voted against and for the referendum to propose solutions to the board. That was to form a committee.

BTW this is not the single issue that faces the board…but this is the only board that has put a proposal to build a much needed high school in the community to date!

Also, the board still needed to do a data analysis to see what was the tipping factor of the vote against the referendum. It is not all location that you think. A lot have to due with cost too. So, we had to do our homework on the community polls and then Thanksgiving came around. Your saying that is bad that the board didnt talk about things it didnt know yet? That is why you should understand the context.

This is a specific example of feeling as though one has to be a part of an exclusive group in order to fully participate in the workings of Unit 4 — and this time I am most definitely not “in.” I don’t even know who is “in.”
K: No this is example of jumping ahead of the process. we are not there yet simply put. We are waiting back on the data.
We need to understand the data and present that to the community once we have it. We cant send it out if we dont have it

Now I hear that public input is welcome at the special board meeting on January 5th — 13 days before any final version of the
referendum is due. That’s simply too late.
K: Trust me when I say it would have been great to have this done earlier but you literally had 2 weeks before thanksgiving and 3 weeks in Dec before Xmas and New Years. Not to mention there are still business items that must be taken care off….The board and district cant just ignore. If you are elected Kathy you will see that you cant just do what you want when you want. You have 6 other people to convince and you have to cater to everyone…that means the people that want to know the bonds and financial aspects…and that dont care about the referendum because they want to know what there tax bill is…Right now you only hear people that agree with you. Wait to you hear the ones that dont. You will represent people at large and you have to make time for all of it

So if this is simple to late Kathy to look at the data for another referendum decision what would be simply perfect? Then put your simply perfect time on a times table and see if would be realist to get what you wanted done despite not having the facts in the time frame you think is perfect. Please advice

@All: I would love to meet in person hope you can make it to Kopi, but can we please stop with assertions and get to productive matters in education? Please pardon typos…I am typing fast because I am meeting with my CTRL-SHFT group

talk to you later

Best,

Kerris


Kerris Lee
Dec 17
Sorry guys,

I will be at Kopi at 3:30pm today instead of 1pm. Have some things I have to take care of that came up.

Best,

kerris


Pattsi Petrie
Dec 17
Kerris, thank you very much for informing all of us that your schedule has changed.

Since I can not participate in the new time, I am writing to confirm my willingness in working toward a uniform mechanism(s) to enhance public participation at any elected body.

The CB has room for improvement. That said out of the many elected bodies in this county, the CB throws the most information onto our web site than an other; albeit at times it is hard to find. Further, short of the city of Champaign, which has adjusted their pubic participation process, we offer the longest window of time for a citizen to talk. We are weak on follow through And we are the only elected body in the county that is moving more and moving to participatory budgeting. We also vote as to what items are on the consent agenda unlike the BOE. Plus the BOW only allows 3 minutes/citizen to talk before the BOE.

In other words there is much room for important so ideas from those on this listserv would be welcome.

P2


Kathy Richards
Dec 17
Glad I checked this before leaving for Kopi! Sorry I won’t be able to see you at the later time this afternoon Kerris.
Stay healthy everyone, and wash your hands,
Kathy R.
p.s. Happy Hanukkah to anyone who celebrates!


Kerris Lee
Dec 17
Hi Pattsi,

I am glad to hear that we all as officials can do more.

We have plenty to go but currently the school board has a viemo, new website, twitter, hard copy papers and Facebook not to mention email address for the board too.

I agree that at our times should be longer and enjoy when we have special meeting because it adopts some of the things we all enjoy and would like in a board.

I hate that I am missing you all
I’m headed to Kopi now I finish my first run of things. Hope to catch you guys soon

Best

Kerris


Kathy Richards
Dec 17
Hey Kerris, thanks for responding. Sorry our schedules didn’t mesh today.

I am well aware that you give up your own time as an individual to meet with community members about school issues. What I am saying (and saying to you, only because you are the board member in this thread) is that THE BOARD would benefit from sponsoring such meetings. I tried to make that clear below when I pointed out that your meeting today was clearly personal, advertised to your email and facebook and twitter friends and the readers of Charles’s blog. Naturally I’m not saying that the News-Gazette should advertise your rockin’ social life at Kopi. I’m saying the News-Gazette or the Unit 4 website *could* be used to advertise *regularly scheduled* times when board members are available to chat with constituents who are not their friends on social media. You wanted an example of how it is difficult for Joe Q. Public to communicate with THE BOARD. I gave you this example, that as a friend I have access to your personal time, while Joe Q. Public does not.

I haven’t tried to communicate with the Park District Board, the County Board, or the City Council, so I can’t speak to their successes or failures at public engagement. Don’t forget the MTD. 😉 Nor have I overlooked the fact that there may possibly be a few other items involved in running a school district. Please don’t blame me for the limited number of days between Nov. 4 and Jan. 18.

Let’s not let exaggeration get in the way.

To ask members of the public to propose alternative solutions to the failed referendum, while simultaneously saying that a solution from THE BOARD cannot be made until data is gathered from the public, makes no sense to me. To ask members of the public to propose alternative solutions, while also stating that THE BOARD will not consider alternative construction sites, makes no sense to me. And finally, for THE BOARD to state that public input on the new referendum will be solicited on Jan. 12 (not Jan. 5 as I claimed in my previous email), makes no sense to me.

An invitation to include the public in decision-making about the referendum a mere 6 days before its due date is not a genuine invitation. As an interested member of the public, I would like to make this point to THE BOARD; please do me the favor of passing along my opinion to your colleagues. Champaign needs a referendum that enjoys broad support.


Kerris Lee
Dec 17
Hi Kathy,

I hope we can meet soon. This email failed to make a distinction on how my coffee hours should be advertised. Again…I addressed this… I think you will find it hard pressed to try to get the News Gazette to advertise your coffee meetings especially when we have things like social media that is and should be used to inform people. I have asked the district to include that on school board members webpage, but its not that dynamic and someone would have to post that each time….you may not know but we are severely understaffed in the IT department as they keep up with 19 campuses and over 9K teachers that need accesses to the internal web in the school district that are more important quiet frankly…then my coffee meeting….I should be responsible and not inconvenience the school district. just to get my meeting out….that is abusing your power and is just plain wrong. You have to take in consideration the people that do their jobs there too.

If you want flyers sent home with kids in their backpack Kathy I think you will find it hard press to use taxpayer money to print that and not get push back from it..nor do I think that is fiscally responsible.

How about instead of trying to get flyers home, news gazette, and whatever else outlandish thing done….If you really wanted to talk to a school board member why dont you just email me? Or call me? Both are on the website … http://www.champaignschools.org/pages/board/members

I mean couldn’t that be a solution? Coffee is not the only engagement that I have with the community…Also I have never turned down a meeting…and If I could not make it to a meeting I have always made it back up…(ask Charles) if this is not true.
Furthermore, you say how board members should be available, but I have only seen you since you decided to run for school board which is (1 time). I have been doing this OVER A YEAR and still have not seen you and I have advertised my coffee meetings in your circles of communication. Pattsi has come…why did you not come? We are talking about engagement right? Please do not say its because of the atmosphere or that is was unwelcoming because its at Kopi. Only Chris came to meet me. Which we have a wonderful conversation BTW. So we can say that we want more engagement but the proof is in the pudding.

I must add that I have met with Charles outside of Coffee quite sometimes too.

Next item:
I haven’t tried to communicate with the Park District Board, the County Board, or the City Council, so I can’t speak to their successes or failures at public engagement. Don’t forget the MTD. 😉 Nor have I overlooked the fact that there may possibly be a few other items involved in running a school district. Please don’t blame me for the limited number of days between Nov. 4 and Jan. 18.

K: I am not blaming at all…not have I blamed you…I am simply point out that we do not monitor the Park board. library, and the County board as much as we should. ( So is that because of bad rules for meeting the community from these entities? ) Please advise.

Also, in all of this I agree to a point….What the takeaway should be is that…I am a person that gets things done. Don’t bring up anything that you are not willing to do yourself…thats what I live by and serving this community I have met a lot of talkers. and that has gotten us no where…so if you dont like the location and that is why your running Kathy then propose some solutions..which I have asked the community and have yet to get an answer. True or False?

Let’s not let exaggeration get in the way.
K: No one is blaming you…I am just asking why your are complaining about a process that you yourself would have to do if elected. I do not know what you mean by exaggerations…it does not make sense at the end of this sentence. Can you please clarify what I am exaggerating on? I mean your inferring that I am exaggerating somehow. despite the fact this is coming from the same person that said that I was a lot of hooey for saying that an infill does not impact education and then had to walk back your statement because you were exaggerating and had no factual evidence to back up your claim….kind of like now.. (BTW to save you the trouble….the data does not exist its clearly, on educational resources allocated to the kids, support at home, understanding the kids learning pattern, and a professional relationship between the student and teacher etc…. ) your argument is like saying kids learn more on a PC vs a MAC…thats a lot of hooey…..So, who has exaggerated in the past?

To ask members of the public to propose alternative solutions to the failed referendum, while simultaneously saying that a solution from THE BOARD cannot be made until data is gathered from the public, makes no sense to me.
K: What? Now your saying its a bad thing now for the board to ask community members for solutions so it can incorporate that weight value when researching the poll data for why the referendum failed? 4% margin a supper close I will add. Please let me know what does not make sense because that seems like a pretty reasonable ask in community involvement

To ask members of the public to propose alternative solutions, while also stating that THE BOARD will not consider alternative construction sites, makes no sense to me.
K: The board did not say that. The school board president did. Please double check your references. (This statement doesn’t make since to me) If elected you will understand. You can check my WDWS and News-Gezette publications that I said we will analyze the data and invite and ask for community input while we do it. Did you forget that?

And finally, for THE BOARD to state that public input on the new referendum will be solicited on Jan. 12 (not Jan. 5 as I claimed in my previous email), makes no sense to me.
K: I get it…so the board is not allowed to go over time in analyzing the data. Its better for a professional board to be uneducated on the issues with the referendum then to miss a deadline. I am sure if elected you would never miss a deadline. Please put that on the record for Kathy as it stands.

Again…what do you plan to do for the students Kathy? How about we start there? That is where I started with CTRL-SHIFT…not from location…in fact no school board ran on that and shouldn’t because that does not make sense to me.

Best,

Kerris


Kerris Lee
Dec 17
Thank you Pattsi,

County board, Park, Parkland College, and Library boards that are not well attended despite the new changes Pattsi. How do we change that? Do you think your changes are not inviting to the public or that people only care when their taxes are effected despite your changes to try to include the community? How do you explain this?
As stated I agree with Pattsi and revising as much as possible to make our meeting inviting. I also appreciate Pattsi self reflection of the COB. As you know I enjoy community dialogue and connectivity…this is a non issue for me as I would not take time out of my business work day if I didnt want community input. Of course I would like to see this implemented.

Best,

Kerris


Kathy Richards
Dec 17
Kerris, I apologize that my attempt to address your comments has resulted in even more misunderstandings between us.

I AM TRYING TO AGREE WITH YOU and hold up your Kopi meetings as a POSITIVE EXAMPLE of the kind of access that I wish were available to more people. I AM TRYING TO COMPLIMENT YOU. I’m putting it in all caps this time so it stands out. I don’t know how to make it clearer.

As for my not being able to meet you today, I don’t mind that your schedule changed since yesterday! Please don’t take offense that I was unable to change my schedule to match.

Meanwhile, I will continue to refer to comments made by the board president as coming from THE BOARD, and refer to reports in official channels of Unit 4 as coming from THE BOARD. I distinguish these from statements made by you as an individual member of that body.

Do I have opinions on how some BOARD processes might operate differently? Of course I do! Otherwise I wouldn’t be running.

I had thought this was a safe place to explore and flesh out some ideas. I offered my opinions in good faith. I will continue to do so.


Kerris Lee
Dec 17
Hi Kathy,

This seems like a softer approach and reply in which I appreciate it. This was the tone of the discussion before than:

KATHY: That being said, I hope you can appreciate the irony — what Chuck said about feeling like board access is restricted to an “in” group? I’m feeling like a part of an “in” group right now, because I’m on this email thread, and that’s the only way I know about your Kopi plans for tomorrow. I found out about another Kopi opportunity through the comments on a blog post of Charles’s. Otherwise I would have no knowledge that you have set aside 3 hours of your time tomorrow.

I looked just now on the Unit 4 website, through the news and announcements, through the Board section, and found no notice about your office hours. I have seen no notice in the News-Gazette. No flyer came home with my children. Speaking of the Board as a unit now — not as individuals — This. Is. A. Public. Relations. Problem.

K: You said this was a public relation inferring a problem from myself & the school board perspective. What I am saying is that the other avenues that you have suggested (news gazette etc) do not initially cover this so…I am saying how is that my or the board pubic relations problem? My solution is that we can go through proper channels i.e. social media and people that have a following to get the word out and that is what I have been doing over a year…. I understand that today was a conflict…but again I am pointing out that you follow Charles blog over a year and I have advertised my coffee hours there…but I have not seen you to now. That is not a stab…or anything…I am sure your busy family etc…trust me I know life happens…I am pointing this out as that at some point maybe its not just a school district public relation problem…maybe its a COMMUNITY and SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT PROBLEM. That is all I am saying that is unfair to make that accusation. That is all….thats why I said couldn’t you email me instead of thinking of all these other channels?
I think the bigger question for the community thought here is; why doesn’t that happen? What has this board done to shun away people from communicating with them..i.e. why is coffee being advertised the only way…when its clear that everyone has opinion about the school district…why wait for a board member to schedule? That is my question. I hope that brings more clarity from the points I have raised in the previous email.

You last email goes on how the board and my reference points dont make sense.

K: This is a safe place to explore your thoughts and opinion, but you must allow for others to defend when you are saying what we are doing doesn’t make sense. We established that it was fine to debate earlier in our previous email. Just because we have different approaches to the matter does not mean that its unsafe here Kathy..Just means a difference of understanding on this item and nothing more than that.

Switching gears would be good such as pedagogy, curriculum, and education…what the school district does that is good in education and how we should push that success would be good. (we all have to take the bad with the good and I would hate for the only email correspondence we have in this email chain to be what people think the board and school does wrong…because that would be simply wrong and one sided. It also makes it seem that the board or school can’t do anything right and does not provide much ownership and confidence for our kids and our community schools….We have to start lifting our school ups and if we want them to be the champions we want them to be.

What do you all think?

Best,

Kerris

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