Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2006

Board needs to take time to listen

June 22, 2006

Board needs to take time to listen
I attended the June 5 De Soto USD 232 Board of Education meeting. During the citizen comments section of the meeting, a Shawnee City Councilman, Kevin Straub, spoke to the board. He was unaware of the restraints that are placed on this forum. A citizen can have a maximum five minutes to speak. The board will not reply to any questions that are asked during this time. There is a maximum of 30 minutes allotted for citizen comments, regardless of the number of citizens present. After struggling to fit his comments into the five-minute window, Mr. Straub was shocked that he could not receive answers or have any additional time when the majority of the 30-minute timeframe was not used.
Citizens' comments should be a very important avenue for the community to address the board and receive responses. However, I believe that it is underused in the district because of the constraints the board has placed on it. Additionally, because the board is not required to respond to citizens, the board members frequently appear not to be engaged when citizens are speaking.
After this meeting I wrote a letter to the board and Superintendent Sharon Zoellner, stating my concerns and asking for ways the citizens comments section of the meeting could be more meaningful to the board. I have not received a reply.
My husband and I regularly attend the board meetings. Usually we are the only citizens present. I feel it is very important for parents to take time out of our busy schedules to attend these meetings.
The board needs more feedback from the community. Many important decisions are being made without any public input. I would like to urge citizens to get involved and take an active role in the decisions that impact our children's education.
Heidi Neal
Shawnee

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