School organization – advertising, and who does a commissioner represent?

Once again it seems that the Director is the right person in the right job – he really knows his stuff. The newly elected chairperson of the committee had her hands full with more than a full house of commissioners; and some in a seemingly combative mood too.

Well this was it! The first meeting that had me wondering if this could really be happening, or if I may have been in some sort of nightmare.

Somehow, the School Organization Committee spent the bulk of the first half of its meeting debating the merits of having “ground rules” for its meeting written on the agenda, or whether they should be removed, or if they should be standardized across the board.

These are “ground rules” as to how these meetings are run. Things like, “One person speaks at a time” and, “one meeting at a time” and such.

“Standardize, distribute and apply these basic rules to all meetings.” That took 8 seconds to write.

Shouldn’t that be the end of the discussion? And there were more than a few commissioners saying exactly that. Unfortunately, 30+ minutes (I believe; I wasn’t timing it) were lost on this. It was unreal.

The Director of School Org showed great patience during this painful phase.

After that fiasco, some interesting information on daycare professional development, bus safety training and overall registration was presented.

I asked why we were advertising for students to enroll in our elementary schools. My limited experience in this board has been that our local schools (McCaig, PET) are overcrowded, with enormous class sizes, lack of adequate gym time and cafeterias being taken apart while kids are eating so that a pseudo gym class (in the cafeteria!) will be ready on time.

But! I was never aware of the other side of the coin. Where this type of advertising was helping to actually save some of our more remote schools. Two recent examples being of schools that had 4 & 6 students (or so) signed up for kindergarten – and then with this advertising, registrations grew to 12 or 15 or so – much more palatable numbers.

So – I have no issue with targeted advertising for this type of need. In fact, I thoroughly support it!

And it seems that it is so – but I reiterated that advertising in the areas that I am elected in makes no sense, and in fact can be counter-productive to offering the highest quality education to these kids.

Somehow, this turned into a rebuke, with a commissioner telling me that I represent the school board as a whole and not any individual school.

I don’t know why this comment was made, as clearly what I was saying applied to using different and appropriate strategies targeted to local needs of schools. That *is* representing the board as a whole!

And anyway – if I feel I have to speak to protect PET or McCaig, or if I feel I have to speak to protect JFK or Hillcrest, or if I feel I have to speak to protect Arundel or Joliette, that’s just what I am going to do. Period.

The “school board” exists for its individual schools. The collective is important. The individual is important. As commissioners, we should speak for both.

It’s unfortunate that some of the rhetoric from years gone-by had to resurface.




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