Having attended many school board meetings over the past 3+ years I have learned not much is normally deliberated and decided during a school board meeting. Recently, there has been more substantive discussion and questions asked but the board members have their packet of information ahead of time and have likely made their decision on how they will vote on issues before they get there. At least that is how it appears to me.
Attendance at board meetings is important
That being said the participation of the community by just showing up to the board meetings to show your interest can have an effect on the decisions made. Your presence is a visible statement to the board members saying you are interested in what they are doing and the decisions being made. Your attendance and participation at the Town Hall meeting last week was impressive and noted by those in attendance, the news media and by those who read or heard about it later.
Appearing before the board
Appearing before the board to speak, ask questions, or share your comments I believe can have a more direct effect on issues. However, when you look at the Board Policy below, this section of the meeting is after everything has been voted on in that particular meeting, “unless a different time is specified by the Board President”.
Request to appear before the Board – Board Policy Manual
Phone Calls and Emails
I believe the two most effective ways to have your input heard and considered by the board before a decision has been made regarding any issue before the board is calling and emailing them. I recommend you do both. Call them and share your concerns and questions and then follow up with an email to document the discussion for yourself and them. If you did not actually speak with them on the phone mention you made an attempt as you begin your email. On this follow-up email you can copy the board members you did not talk to. That way you have shared your information with all of them.
Dorothy Richardson – Board President – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Daniel Whitaker – Board Vice President email@example.com
Bert Barr – Board Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gloria Jones – Board Member – email@example.com
Robert (Bob) Doerer Board Member – firstname.lastname@example.org
Specific facts are what is needed
What they need to hear are specifics, not generalizations. They need to know you are a real person who is a stakeholder in the Enterprise City School System. That could be an ECS employee, a former ECS employee, a parent or a concerned citizen. What I am saying is you cannot be anonymous. You cannot expect a board member to give the same weight to information they receive anonymously as that from an identified stakeholder.
I know that fear of repercussion is an issue in Enterprise City Schools. However, the only way that can change is if people step up and share what they are experiencing honestly and identifying who you are.
I know the local paper requires you to sign anything you send to them as a comment or letter to the editor before they publish it but they will, if asked, sign it as “Name withheld by request” when they print it. I would hope the board members would act professionally and honor your requests similarly if you ask them to do so.
I wanted to get this post out to anyone interested to encourage you to attend and participate in any way you can. Some of you probably didn’t realize how all this works and I wanted to make that as clear as I could based on my understanding. Don’t let the opportunity pass and have the regret of, “I wish I had” weighing over you. Do what you believe is right so you will have the satisfaction in knowing you did all you could and you did what was right.
Be honest, factual and direct and avoid any personal attacks as those will not be helpful. The facts should be enough to make your point.
I hope many of you already have shared your experiences with the board members but, if not, you still have time to do so before the meeting on Tuesday and this, more than anything, can have an impact on decisions.
If you do want to appear before the board and speak in the meeting Tuesday you have to have your request submitted no later than 6:00 PM Monday. You can go to this link and download the form.
The board works for you to oversee and redirect, if needed, the business of the school system. They need to know what is going on directly from those in the classrooms and from the community as well as those who have left the school system over the past three years. The only way they will get that information is if you give it to them.
Speak up and show up. It is your school system.
Until next time…
Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 9/25/16