Prepared Text for Board Meeting Ė April 14, 2008

Marc A. Schare614 791-0646 Home

614 791-0067 Work - 614 791-1779 Fax

marc9@aol.com

 

 

Tonight, I want to publicly address some of the things that have come to light as a result of the Colonial Hills decision. As always, these opinions are my own. As I see it, there are three separate issues that this board needs to deal with.

 

First is the 6th grade to KMS decision itself. Was the decision correct from the standpoint of providing the best opportunities for the most students at an affordable cost? As I write this, I donít have enough information to make that determination or even have a meaningful opinion. As with the Colonial Hills community, Iím anxiously awaiting the Wednesday community meeting to hear specifics as to what the administration has in mind.

 

The second issue has to do with communications and community engagement. While the administration will admit that mistakes were made, I donít think they quite understand the damage that has been done and the good will that has been lost. Common sense says that you do community engagement before making decisions. Common sense says you donít tell the kids before engaging the parents. Common sense says you try to anticipate questions and have answers ready in advance. The two paragraph email that attempted to explain a fundamental shift in this districtís philosophy regarding middle school was, in my opinion, insensitive to parents and insulting to the community. It is doubly frustrating because we are 8 months into a process of community engagement where elementary school communities are asked and allowed to dream the dream and define their futures, however, something as radical as a grade realignment was not seen as important enough to run by the community. Folks, if we are to accomplish big things here in Worthington, if we are succeed with elementary school renewal, if we are to open specialty schools and magnet schools and empower staff to provide that ever elusive 21st century education, we cannot be springing surprises on an unsuspecting community, to say nothing of an unsuspecting board. Community engagement and communications are essentials if we are to succeed in this endeavor and this should not be a lesson that has to be learned and relearned over and over again.

 

My third issue is tough for me to discuss. There appears to be a communications breakdown between our administration and this board (or at least this board member) and I bring it up publically to highlight its severity. It is incomprehensible to me that we have policies that mandate a two week period before approval of curriculum changes, textbooks, service animal procedures, handling of food allergins, budgets and all manner of school governance minutia, yet, the administration felt perfectly comfortable announcing to the board on Wednesday night in what some might have said was an inappropriate setting that a major building realignment was occuring on Thursday. This is not an isolated instance. High School reform proposals were initiated and approved with no board input. Matters requiring board approval are brought to us after the fact and matters that are, according to statute the pervue of the board are left undiscussed until the last minute. Maybe it is just me, but if not, it is my hope that this board immediately starts to work with our administration to define expectations on both ends and work together to solve this problem because if the administration canít communicate with the 5 of us, what chance do we all have to fufill the amazing potential of this district and accomplish great things with our 9500 students and 40000 residents.