Wednesday, February 23, 2011

School board meetings are fun.

Oh yes they are. If you're interested in learning things like I am.

Last night I went to the "Regular Meeting of the Board of School Trustees" of School City of Mishawaka. It was very enlightening and I intend to go to many more. And maybe some of the surrounding school system's meetings as well.

Many times I think that we as parents complain to each other rather than asking questions of the people who actually are charged with making the tough decisions.

And before I let us parents off the hook, I would just like to ask, why in the world did almost every single parent leave after the "program" and "recognition" portions of the evening had ended. I wanted to stop people at the door and shake them. They had an opportunity to show their kids how things get done in Mishawaka. It was an opportunity for them to understand more about how the Board works and makes the decisions that effect our children's education. I was very disappointed. Seriously, after the recognition portion ended, there was only myself and a handful of others left.

On the agenda last night was this. See if you can interpret for me. And I quote:
Superintendent's Recommendation: Notice was previously given by legal publications on February 10, 2011 to the taxpayers of the School City of Mishwaka, St. Joseph County, Indiana, that the proper legal officers of said school corporation at their regular meeting on February 22, 2011 will conduct a public hearing on the matter of appropriating the proceeds of one or more installment payment contracts entered into by the school corporation in connection with the improvements made by the school corporation as described in the Qualified Providers Agreement. It is further recommended that the public be invited to address questions or comments.
Whuh? First of all, I'm pretty sure that's a run on sentence.

With context I was able to figure out that item has to do with the school system paying a group up to $4,365,000 to tell us how to save energy. Yes, you read that right. Over FOUR MILLION DOLLARS (over the next 16 years of course) to tell us how to save energy costs.

Now, in their defense, they will be paid from the money saved. So if we only save $2 million I guess that's all they get. I think. I hope so.

So to me, it sounds like the bottom line is the same. We save money but spend it somewhere else. I'm not getting how this helps anyone. Maybe I should have asked some more questions last night.

Also, the other issue this raised for me is the line that says "notice was previously given by legal publications." As far as I could figure out that meant that it was posted in the South Bend Tribune. Well, here's the thing. I only get the Tribune on the weekends. So if it wasn't in on the weekend I probably didn't see it. And chances are good that I wouldn't even see it on the weekend.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if in addition to "legal publications" that same notice could be sent home directly to parents? My suggestion to our school principal was that these notices be also printed in the regular Roadrunner Review publications that come home with the students. I'm a firm believer that if you want someone to know something, you need to communicate it in a way that they understand and to which they have access. I'm hoping these notices will somehow more easily find their way to more homes.

I'm hooked. I'm going again. Who's coming with me next time?

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