Archive for the ‘Municipalities’ Category

Mead Boundary Decision

February 12, 2009

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.

BOE Microblogging Notes – Longmont Committee for the Cultural and Performing Arts (LCCPA).

January 20, 2009

I am experimenting with micro-blogging. Capturing salient ideas in 140 characters or less.  I made an effort to take notes in micro-blog style at the last school board meeting. Not sure yet if I think this will be a useful exercise.  I may experiment a little bit more.  My hope is to capture and post relevant information on a more timely basis.  Here's a first installment of micro-blog notes.  We met with the Longmont Committee for the Culture and Performing Arts (LCCPA) in a work session prior to the regular school board meeting.

BOE Microblogging Notes – Longmont Committee for the Cultural and Performing Arts (LCCPA).

LCCPA is interested in creating a regional arts and education center that they will call the Longmont School for the Arts.
 
The school would serve people of all ages from youth to adults in programs ranging from culinary to theater.
 
LCCPA envisions a post secondary arts school.  A model for their vision is the Savannah College of Art and Design. http://www.scad.edu/.
 
The group believes the Longmont School for the Arts will be complementary to, not in competition with, public school arts programs. I see these possibilities.
 
LCCPA would eventually like to build a performing arts center.  An example of their vision is Santa Fe’s Lensic.  http://www.lensic.com/.
 
The group is interested in leasing the building on 9th and Main Streets which currently houses Twin Peaks Charter Academy.
 
I am impressed with the group’s vision.  The BOE agreed to have staff pursue conversations about a potential lease option on the 9th and Main facility.
 
LCCPA was represented by Dr. Peter Schmid, Jim Marty, Julia Pirnack, Scott Pirnack and Scott Dunn.
 
Conversation points that stick with me…
 
Arts centers are evolving away from a place that hosts events for subscribers to observe. The trend is for arts centers to host participatory programs.
 
Young arts enthusiasts expect to participate in and socialize around their performing arts experiences.
 
Yet another industry/institution that must reinvent itself to be a platform for people to have co-created experiences.
 
From Daniel Pink’s Book, A Whole New Mind… The Master of Fine Arts is the new MBA.

Mead High School Boundaries

January 6, 2009

I wrote this post on a plane bound for Washington, DC. I am posting it in my hotel room.

There are two public comment sessions on the Mead High School Boundaries which the school board will be asked to approve on February 11.

(I will discuss the process of developing boundary recommendations and public comment sessions in a future post. Short version, I think we have the process backward. We should hold comment sessions and then develop options. This is a critiqe of board policy not staff. Staff are following the process in board policy and and I have not raised my opinions about the process.)

The first public comment session was held last night at Skyline High School. The second session is at Frederick High School tomorrow (Wednesday). Due to my wife's bookclub and my business travel schedule I am not able to attend either session in person. I look forward to the report.

Setting school boundaries is often a challenge because there are competing interests to balance. In the case of Mead High School the competing interests are ensuring the new high school has a critical mass of students so there are the revenues to provide a rich set of program offerings and protecting the integrity of communities – especially the Tritowns. Eric Doering, Mayor of Frederick, expresses the latter interest in a Times-Call editorial today (1/6/09). Unfortunately the electronic version of the Times-Call does not have his piece. There are also concerns about how a new high school will impact Skyline High School. These opinions were expressed at last night's forum according to the Times-Call article.

High schools are built for the long term. In the short term, it will be difficult to balance all of these interests in a way that everyone finds satisfying.

I also took note from the Times-Call article the need to better publicize the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program being implemented at Skyline. Many people are unaware of the programs being developed at the school. Fine arts programs are being beefed up, too.

Students and families have an out if they don't like the board's decision about boundaries. Colorado's open enrollment laws make it easy for students to choose a public school outside their presribed boundaries. Thus, boundary decisions are becoming less and less relevant. I see this trend continuing. In  fact, we are moving quickly toward a time in which schooling is no longer entirely place based nor time fixed. Geography isn't what it used to be.

Meantime, I will strive to be thoughtful when trying to balance the competing interests when making my vote to set Mead High School boundaries. I am confident other board members will be thoughtful, too.