Mead Boundary Decision

Last night, the school board set boundaries for Mead High School.  The Times-Call story is here.

I read this statement at the conclusion of our discussion.

I would like to thank everyone who spoke tonight but especially the students – that takes guts.

I had a bottom line when I arrived here tonight.  While these boundaries are not my first choice the proposal meets this bottom line.  Any student who lives in the Tri Towns and wants to attend Frederick High School will have that choice.

I am making this vote in an effort to show respect for the Tri Town communities, to give students and families options and to enable Mead High School to open successfully.

That’s the bottom line and it’s a good one.

I also want to thank staff and Long Range Planning committee for their work.  They followed the guidelines set out in board policy.  They did the work they were asked to do.

I do want to say a few words to the elected officials who are here tonight – my colleagues on the school board and the elected officials in the audience.  I appreciate everyone’s indulgence.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, it is important for us to acknowledge when we could have done better.  This is one of those times.

I will begin with myself.

I have been a part of the boundary setting process in the past.  I knew from experience that the process we have is backward.  We ask the Long Range Planning Committee to make recommendations first and then we ask the public for input, second.

This creates a very contentious atmosphere.  The committee feels beat up.  The community believes our process is just for show.

We end up scrambling for data at the 11th hour which we then try to discredit depending on our point of view.

I knew this from past experience but I did not speak up.  I let the process unfold without saying a word.

As my colleague Bob Smith reminded me, Steven Covey teaches that people who are affective are proactive.  I did not meet this standard.  As a board, we did not meet this standard.

Looking forward, I want to make clear we need to redesign this process.

We also have known for a while that the elected officials in the Tritowns – speaking on behalf of many of their constituents – had concerns with the proposed boundary areas.  The concerns were valid and worthy of discussion.

Yet again, I was not proactive in reaching out to officials in the Tritowns to say, “let’s figure this out.”

I could have done better.  As a board, we could have done better.

Having said this, the same applies to the elected officials from the Tritowns.  They could have been more proactive, too.  There was no meaningful effort to engage us in constructive dialogue.  I did not receive a single phone call from an elected official asking, "John, what do you think?"

The public hyperbole that we’ve witnessed, especially over the past week, is not helpful.  It’s effective in the sense that it gets a lot of people riled up.  It fills up board rooms.  And, it may create a sense camaraderie among those who got fired up.

But, this public hyperbole did not bring us together to figure out a solution. It just made people defensive and put people on edge.

People want to know that elected officials understand their concerns, that they will account for these concerns, and that they have the abilities to work and play well with other elected officials.

People understand that compromise is part of the process.  They will accept decisions that work reasonably well for everyone even if it’s not exactly what they want.

That is what I believe we have here tonight.  A compromise that works reasonably well for everyone because families get to choose where their child attends school.

So, I claim responsibility for my lack of action that led us to the place we are today.  I can and should do better.

I hope that all of the elected officials who are here tonight or watching on tv or who may read this on my blog will also consider ways to be more proactive in the future, too.

We have more issues to work on.  Let’s look forward.  Together, let’s do better.

The people in our communities as well as our municipal and district staff deserve it.

Thanks for your indulgence.

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5 Responses to “Mead Boundary Decision”

  1. Jo Charlton Says:

    I watched you read this on TV. I’m impressed with your sincerity and all the work you do for the school board. Thank you also for this blog. I enjoy reading it. As an Alpine parent, I have seen people get very angry over boundaries. I really have a hard time understanding the anger when we have open enrollment. I dont live in the tritowns so I dont feel comfortable commenting on this particular case, but I know the whole board works hard and are basing their decisions on ‘big pictures’ looking at the entire district of 24,000+.

  2. Brad Jolly Says:

    Actually, the anger is very easy to understand, for at least three reasons: 1) Open enrollment is NOT a guarantee; every year, some schools are closed to open enrollment. 2) If you open enroll your student, you have to provide your own transportation. 3) None of the boundary shenanigans were announced before the election.

  3. John Creighton Says:

    Point of clarification. Students living in the Mead boundary area that wish to open enroll to Frederick or Skyline High School are guaranteed acceptance. The concern expressed by some parents was their desire to continue to attend Frederick.
    Students who live in the Mead attendance area who open enroll to Frederick or Skyline High School are guaranteed transportation at least until the new Frederick High School opens.

  4. Brad Jolly Says:

    Those are valid points regarding the Frederick situation, John. I was responding to Ms. Charlton’s statement that “[a]s an Alpine parent, I have seen people get very angry over boundaries. I really have a hard time understanding the anger when we have open enrollment.”
    In the general case, the district does NOT guarantee open enrollment or provide transportation for open enrollers. The Alpine situation, which Jo mentions, is an example of the general case.

  5. Rod Briggs Says:

    Great Blog John

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