Monday, August 9, 2021

R2 Board really cares - or does it?

A last-minute media release about tomorrow night's school board meeting changes the location for the board meeting. It will be in the conference center at R2's Taj Mahal, a/k/a R2i2. Frankly, there have been too many errors in announcements in the past few months, and you can expect an amendment to today's release, correcting an obvious error in the boiler-plate about signing up for public participation.

The board will meet in Executive Session from 5:00-6:30PM. At 6:30PM the board will re-convene in open session.

This morning's announcement includes: 

"Public session will resume at 6:30 p.m. at which time a Public Input Session will be held. During the input session, the public has the opportunity to share comments related to the district's plans for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services and for the spending of federal emergency relief funds (ESSER III funds)."

Now read this and spot what's wrong:

"Public Participation is on the agenda for the August 10 meeting. The Board sets aside a maximum of 30 minutes (15 minutes at the beginning and 15 minutes prior to the end of the public portion of the meeting). As each speaker is allotted three minutes, Public Participation will be limited to the first 10 people who sign up to speak (five during the first Public Participation and five during the second Public Participation). The sign-up to speak will open at 5 p.m. and close at 5:45 p.m. on August 10 in the lobby of R2i2."

The announcement is unclear. It fails to clarify that the Public Input session precedes the Public Participation segment of the meeting. How many parents will be allowed to speak during the "Public Input" period, and for how long?

Why in the world should you have to sign up between 5:00-5:45PM for a meeting that starts at 6:30PM???

And does the Board really care about what "the public" (parents!) will have to say about safe return to school? If it really cared, it would listen to more than ten people. Some school boards are having hundreds of parents show up for board meetings, such as when parents want to sound off about Critical Race Theory. 

Obviously, the boiler-plate should have been altered to close sign-ups at 6:15PM, which is 15 minutes before the scheduled resumption of the open session. But why should sign-up even close then?

The lucky first five get to speak during the first segment of public participation. Why does the board make the 6th-10th signed-up speakers wait until almost the end of the meeting which, based on recent trends, could be 2 hours (or more) later. 

If the board really cared about what parents think, it would listen to 20 or more parents in an hour, non-stop. The board could save time by calling up the next speaker and announcing the names of the next two speakers, and have them stand in waiting. Ex., "The first speaker will be John Smith, followed by Mary Jones, followed by Tim Parent."

Of course, then the board members might complain about being hammered by parents. Would that be so bad?