This past weekend, new Board member Mona Dyke and I drove down to Findlay to attend a seminar for new school board members, put on by the Ohio School Board Association (OSBA). It was a 2-day affair, and I was only able to attend the Saturday sessions, while Mona went both days.
From 9 a.m. until 3:45 p.m., we sat in a small room with 90+ other new school board members and learned some basic information about the position to which we were all recently elected.
On the ride home, Mona and I talked about our opinion of the whole affair. We were pretty much agreed that there wasn't much detail given - although some of the questions from the floor provided some interesting tidbits.
Especially in the financial area, we were disappointed. Our "facilitator" for that portion of the day was a lobbyist for the OSBA, who was entertaining but gave too broad an overview of how state legislative decisions have already affected school funding. We would have benefited from some hard facts here, but he spoke as though all of use were intimately aware of the facts already. He did emphasize the importance of knowing and contacting state representatives and senators who have a personal hand in legislative issues, to give them our opinions and desires with regard to school funding options. At one point, he introduced state representative Cliff Hite to us, who encouraged us to contact him with school funding concerns at any time.
The Sunday session was to include information on the Sunshine Law and other legal issues. I haven't had a chance to ask Mona about any of it yet, but I hope she gleaned more information than we got on Saturday.
Tonight - January 14th - will be the school board's organizational meeting, beginning at 6:30 p.m. I am hoping that the other board members will consider changing our meeting dates to Tuesdays, as I have discovered far fewer conflicts on those nights (according to the school calendar for the past two years).
In addition, I plan to ask about recording the meetings themselves, and then podcasting them so that our district residents may have access at any time. One thing mentioned at the Saturday seminar was the importance of communication with residents - newsletters, weekly or monthly articles in local papers, etc. were some of the ways suggested to keep residents informed. We have a district website now, and many of our manuals and the five-year budget forecast is already online. I think podcasting the actual meetings and maybe creating a newsletter would go a long way to keep folks apprised of what is happening at the board level.
We'll see what happens!