Testimony of Lynda Rubin to the BOE, March 26, 2020

Related to contract action items, e.g. #32


I’m submitting this testimony in the expectation that since no set-up has been made to allow for individuals to call in and read our own testimony, that my, and all other testimonies will be read in full and not summarized. “Summarized”: means the reader has the ability to pick and choose which parts of the testimony will be read and whether to include all of the actual wording or not. Any of these, including the intonation of the reader could impact the meaning of testimony, even unintentionally. I realize that circumstances dictate changes are necessary.

I urge the Board to learn from appropriate staff what technical options are available, or could be made available, to assist that meetings be as close to actually attended meetings as possible. The lack of an audience in the room, regardless of size, will affect the discussion by the Board; that’s just human nature.

I also ask that the Board increase its explanations of the details of items being voted on, especially where contracts are involved. Of course, contracts have to be prepared and agreed to in advance in order to allow for both the District and the company to put them into effect. But not all contracts are essential at this time, even for planning purposes. I also don’t understand why the terms of contracts signed by a public entity like the School District shouldn’t be made public. Descriptions are never quite as revelatory as the actual wording. I’ve heard testimony questioning the reason for any number of change orders and amendments to existing contracts. These changes should be explained. I believe that when this Board first took over, you published contracts.

We who attend meetings and who testify raise issues that are of concern not only to us individually, but to District staff, parents and students. Some issues bring out more people. And sometimes, the Board or Dr. Hite actually learns about something going on (or not going on) in the field and has expressed appreciation for learning about the issue, and has then followed up.

I appreciate the District’s efforts to try to make the web-site more accessible. However, even I, with some knowledge of District operations, have had extreme difficulty finding things. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for parents and community members without such knowledge. One of my favorite lines from the film, “Philadelphia” is when Denzel Washington asks, “Explain it to me like I’m a 6 year old.” That statement is deep. Running a large school district is daunting indeed. The more everyone shares how directives, plans and oversight are playing out in actual schools throughout the city – the better, more equitable and responsive our educational system will be. Thank you.