The Board of Education is interested in your ideas and concerns. The Regular Monthly Meeting provides an opportunity for public participation, whereby individuals have an opportunity to offer ideas and raise concerns in the public meeting. If you would like to address the Board, here are some suggestions to consider:
Take your concern or idea to the person best suited to address it.
- Meet with the teacher and/or principal; or
- Contact the Superintendent or Treasurer; then
- Call a Board of Education member if you are unsatisfied or feel that your idea or concern was not acknowledged;
If you remain unsatisfied, you may wish to address the entire Board at its Regular Monthly Meeting. This can be done by signing the “Public Participation Sheet” before the meeting begins. You will need to provide your name, address, and topic to be addressed.
During the Public Participation portion of the meeting, you will be asked to step to the microphone to present your topic. Please keep in mind there is a five minute limit for each speaker. Presenters are always welcome to provide handouts or other materials.
Please know that Public Participation is not a dialog or discussion between the speaker and the Board. It is an opportunity for you to present any ideas or concerns to the Board in a public forum. The Board will not debate the merits of your position; they will respectfully listen to your presentation.
You can expect the Board President to respond to your presentation through one or more of the following steps:
- Ask the Superintendent or a member of the Administration to follow up with you
- Refer your concern to a committee of the Board for further study
- Set a date for further follow-up or review
- Acknowledge that your concern may not be able to be addressed at the present time
- Thank you for your input and interest
Behind the Scenes
The Board needs to carry out its routine business responsibilities each month in order to keep the district operating smoothly, and this is often not the most interesting part of a Board meeting, but necessary if bills are to be paid, contracts signed, and the buses kept running.
On other items on the meeting agenda that require informed decisions based on research and committee work such as curriculum and planning, the Board does much of its fact finding beforehand through committee reports, meetings, inquiries to staff, and planning meetings such as the annual Board retreat. There are also community groups such as the Campus Master Plan (Facilities) Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee that provide pertinent information to the Board.
Issues that the community or Board members feel are inadequately prepared or not in the best interests of tax payers, parents, students, and staff are redirected at an earlier level of review or are sent back to the appropriate committee for research and revision. Ideally, only after an issue has been examined by the necessary constituents, staff, and Board members, and they have reached a level of comfort, does the issue appear as a Board agenda item for adoption or rejection.
In short, if the Board and staff are doing their homework, asking pertinent questions, and getting satisfactory answers, the topics on the Board agenda should reflect this preparation.
This preparation process, however, should not exclude topics that may arise which are of immediate concern to an individual or group – hence there is space on the monthly agenda for “Public Participation” and “Additions to the Agenda.”
Overall, the Board’s goal is to have decisions made in a rational and fair manner, with appropriate, thoughtful, and reflective processing. The Board seeks to avoid decisions based on emotionalism, pressure from special interest groups, or the interest of one individual. Such decisions could result in community divisiveness and produce lack of confidence and trust among all parties.
Schools should be dynamic organizations that inevitably have points of friction resulting from Board and public scrutiny in the melting pot of ideas. We want to balance the important characteristic of challenging assumptions and present conditions with the equally valuable characteristic of providing a stable environment to nurture the district’s growth. This healthy balance allows the district to move forward and achieve its goals, without being sapped of its energy and direction. This test of our wisdom and sophistication as a community will be our ability to balance these two dynamics in meeting the educational needs of our children and moving forward as an institution, while continually seeking to improve.