With a new comprehensive plan recently completed, through extensive community participation as well as from the school board and its staff, the Palisades School District is now extending its long-standing, community-participation tradition further by starting audio recording of its school board meetings.
Both were approved by the school board at its Nov. 20 public meeting.
For the comprehensive plan for 2020-2023, a 27-member steering committee, consisting of board members and professional staff, as well as business leaders and parents, spent three half days during 2017-2018 focusing on key subject areas. Action planning teams for each key subject area expanded participation to 43 professional staff, parents, and business owners.
Meanwhile, officials have been concerned for many years that attending early evening meetings of the school board and its various committees was not possible for too many of the district’s constituents. The district’s ongoing, extensive communications outreach could help advise what was going on, and surveys could offer some level of participation, but officials were always on the lookout to do more.
Consequently, the district established a three-board member ad hoc committee, with school board Vice President Shari VanderGast serving as chairperson, to consider recommendations for broadcasting of board meetings.
The group met four times, starting last May with consideration of what 30 other local school districts were doing to “provide some sort of digital recording of their board meetings.” At that time, the district’s “solicitor recommended that we list the length of time we would post and then archive in our record retention policy.”
At a June meeting, the committee reviewed more detail on exactly how other districts proceeded, and then broadened the discussion to include further developing the district’s already-existing communications outreach.
In October, they considered how meeting minutes were prepared, and how meeting participants could be adequately “miked.” At that point, “committee members indicated preference for written-audio record.”
At their final meeting in November, they entertained feedback from other board members and some district staff, and arrived at a final recommendation to record via audio. The full board then approved the concept at their Nov. 20 meeting, given some final details to still be worked out.
Also at the Nov. 20 meeting, the board approved two new courses for the district’s Education Pathway. The new comprehensive plan calls for a commitment to expand the district’s “Pathway” programs, which enable students to establish job, career path, and other post-high school goals while still in school, including real-life experience off-site.