Monday, August 25, 2008

August Meeting Roundup

There was a lot of activity in August on a lot of fronts. I will attempt to touch on a few of the topics briefly.

In no particular order, here are the items that caught my attention more than most:

1) Gallup Teacher Insight- The Board approved in a 9-0 vote the purchase of this software that will help the District in the evaluation and selection of new teachers. The software was recommended by the Superintendent and after questions we all seemed to think it was a good idea. You can find the Gallup information page on the software here. There is no more important factor to student success than having great teachers. School Boards, Superintendents, and others have influence, but the classroom is where the rubber meets the road. We need to make sure we recruit and hire the best teachers so our students have the greatest chance at success. I am hopeful that this software will improve an already great teaching staff.

2) Superintendent's Salary- The Board voted 9-0 to approve a 4% increase in salary for the Superintendent. I have not met a person yet who doesn't get a sense of honesty, integrity, and intelligence from a meeting with Mr. Allison. In my opinion, he is the right person at the right time to help lead the District. I look forward to helping him implement some of his ideas over the course of the next few years. He has a great vision for the District.

3) Washington Elementary Playground- The Board was shown updated plans for the Washington Elementary Playground. You can review the plans here. There are a number of drawings for you to peruse. In June there was a bit of controversy surrounding the playground but I think the latest plans that include security gates and the removal of proposed parking spaces are ready to go.

4) Discussion to Review Board Meeting Procedures- Director Posti had requested this topic be added to the agenda and I voted for the discussion to be had. She also posted an explanation on her blog here about her intentions. The discussion surrounded whether or not there should be a subcommittee appointed to review and/or correct statements that are made by residents during the public comments portion of school board meeting. I didn't have any comments for the meeting because I was on the fence. I wanted to see what was being proposed before I offered up an opinion. I don't want the Board to be involved in policing comments- especially after the fact- and I was worried that this was the direction things were headed. Residents have every right to come to the microphone and voice their opinions about things that they think are related to the Board. I don't want to get into a game of figuring out what comments are related to Board business and which are not. This opinion should be left to residents to decide unless something is so far off the mark that a Board member calls a Point of Order and asks the President to stop the comments. At that point it should be up to the President to decide if the comment should be allowed to continue. Every Board member has this power. Every Board member also has the right to respond to any comment by a resident. My worries about limiting speech were confirmed at our voting meeting when after a resident gave comments, a Board member said (and I paraphrase here) 'those were the type of comments that we should not allow'. Policing and correcting citizen comments is a losing proposition. By its actions and discussions the Board should make its intentions and facts about issues known to the public. Comments from residents, while mostly well intentioned, are sometimes not well informed. That means to me that we need to do a better job of communicating with the public instead of finding ways to correct possible misstatements from them. I agree with the President's decision not to form a subcommittee at this time.

5) Construction Managers- The Board will be looking to select a Construction Manager for the High School Project at its September meeting. We conducted interviews of the three finalists last week and I believe we have some terrific options. I look forward to the discussion surrounding the selection.

Enjoy the first day back to school.