Is community engagement defined ONLY by the Board?

by Diane Payne

Capping speakers, reducing speaking time, ignoring the vast majority of speakers at Action Meetings, failing to respond to legitimate inquiries, in other instances responding with non-answers, and ignoring complaints about violations of the Sunshine Act are but some of the indicators that to the Board, the public is an annoyance to be endured. 

The in-person session with the superintendent finalists is one more instance of the Board’s illusion of public engagement. 32 people will be chosen to represent a district of close to 200,000 students, plus their families, teachers, and community stakeholders.  Everything about this process is hidden from public view.  Who decided 32?  What will the format be and how is it being decided?  Will questions be limited?   The guidelines for these sessions shuts out large swaths of people who care and are engaged not to mention that 32 is a minuscule representation.  I call on the board to open this up to a larger representation of district stakeholders.

James Baldwin’s quote is apropos here… “I can’t believe what you say, because I see what you do.” Don’t shut us out.

Action Item 22 allocates $72 million to early childcare centers. I was glad to see an answer about the breakdown of funding in the Q&A on the agenda.  However, the Action Item contains a list of 47 Center names with no other identifying information. Who makes sure that each center has a Keystone Star rating of 3 or higher?  Some centers can’t be found with the name given.  Who determines if these are quality centers? Research has shown that mediocre early childcare centers can do more harm than good.  Action Items should contain complete information to justify expenditures.

It was heartening to see information in the Q&A about change orders.  Once again, complete information should be standard in each Action Item.  Although it is an improvement to see answers to long-standing Change Order questions, this still falls short of a public presentation on quality control efforts.