Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Into the breach

New school board on the job

On January 4, an entirely new Goochland County School Board held its organizational meeting. Beth Hardy, District 4 was elected chair. John Wright, District 5 will serve as vice chair. Other members are Michael Payne, District 1; Kevin Hazzard, District 2 and John Lumpkins, District 3.

Hardy said that she was both honored and humbled by her selection as chair. She also thanked the citizens for taking part in the recent historic elections. She said that the new school board understands that it is sworn to serve and will work hard to restore credibility and trust in its actions.

Getting down to nuts and bolts, Hardy said that complete school board meeting agendas will be posted on the school website in a timely manner. This will encourage, rather than stifle, informed comment during the sessions.

(Agendas and packets are available under the school board tab at www.glnd.k12.va.us. Budget information is expected to be posted there as it becomes available also.)

Hardy said that the new board is seeking ways to improve things and welcomes citizen input on any matter.

The most pressing item currently before the school board, said Hardy, is the budget for fiscal year 2012-13. Crafting the budget is an enormous and difficult task that is well worth the effort.

To that end, the school board will meet every Tuesday evening in January at the high school. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. A joint budget meeting with the board of supervisors will be held on February 13.
This is the fulfillment of campaign promises by all newly elected supervisors and school board members to work together. We can expect meaningful discussion between the two boards and a thoughtful, innovative approach to money matters, which will lead to workable and mutually acceptable budget strategies.

This will be an important change from the counterproductive snarky comments and open hostility that characterized joint meetings in the past.
All supervisors attended the January 4 meeting and all school board members attended the supervisors’ meeting on January 3. This signal of collaboration rather than confrontation between the two boards bodes well for the future.

To be sure, hard fiscal decisions must be made in the next few months. This new school board began working on the budget as soon as the ballots were counted in November. It will squeeze each penny in the school budge until it bleeds to ensure that public funds are spent wisely to benefit our kids.

Another first for a Goochland School Board was adoption of a code of ethics.

During the public comment period, all school board members listened attentively and took notes unlike their predecessors who tended to ignore citizens who made the effort to comment at meetings.

The January 17 meeting will be a budget workshop to provide an opportunity for two way discussions. Wright and Hazzard said that they want to make the budget process more “conversational” and encourage public participation.

“This will be something of an experiment,” explained Hazzard. “Everything is fair game.”

This new attitude toward citizen participation in the budget process is the first step on a difficult path to a better way of doing things.

Goochland is truly blessed that these five citizens were selected by the voters to oversee our schools. All of them have been engaged in local public education for some time. Their children attend county schools and they know first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of our system. They bring complementary skills and outlooks to their daunting task.

Things are looking up.


Pat said...

Yeah, it was a good meeting. Of course the 'look at me' folks are still determined to make it all about them - such as our illustrious FOIA advocate who waxed eloquent about watching pennies in order for the dollars to take care of themselves. Of course he didn't bother to mention that he was tying up resources and taking valuable time and energy that could be used on other more important things in order to sue someone who is no longer on the board, but who will be defended by school resources. That's looking out for your community!

That same individual also bombarded the BoS with advice (much of which was good), but neglected to tell the board and everyone else in the audience that he was suing the county over Benedictine because the traffic 20 miles away from where he lives will somehow create an inconvenience for him. But with any luck, he'll get his name in the paper again, and after all - that's what it's really all about, isn't it?

Pat said...

Just wanted to post a note saying that I participated in the first streaming audio/video presentation of the SB meeting last night (Tue 1/10). The quality was good, though some of the slides were hard to read and some of the graphics could use some work, but otherwise it was clear, informative and easy to follow. I don't think they will let me sip my bourbon and eat my dinner during the actual meeting at the school, so this worked out well for me!

There was a facility to make comments (which I used to poke a little fun at our favorite pundit who decided the SB meeting was a good place to discuss his son's disciplinary issues!). During the session I even received a phone call from my BoS representative to chat about doing this for their board as well and to talk about how to expand broadband so others could participate.

As I recall about 50 people in total watched at some point, with about 10 sessions being consistent. I applaud the SB for making this possible and expanding communications into the community in ways that have never been available before.

To the school IT dude: Well done, Mr. Hendron. Well done. Bravo.

Dean Young said...

Of course, all I could think of at the meeting was "Where's Pat?". Thanks for clearing it up. I missed the memo on the streaming so I ended up waiting out the entire meeting...which was still worth it.

On a serious note, I hope that all that were streaming will come out this Tuesday for the meeting because I expect there to be actual dialogue rather than just comments. It should be a first for the county. See you there....