The meeting started out with a rather significant turnout, and Chairman Kirk Humphreys told the crowd they made up “the greatest number of happy people I’ve seen in some time.”
The school’s choir kicked off the meeting with two songs, and first-graders from Martin Luther King Elementary School followed with one more. I don’t know what to make of it, but I did notice that only two of the twelve first-graders were boys.
The audience dwindled to just less than 50 people, including district administrators, once those presentations and the recognitions of more than 70 teachers and students were done. In other words, there were no more public comments than usual — three people spoke last night — because the meeting was held out at a school site.
Still, I liked seeing more of a school, even if the lack of wireless Internet access meant I had to wait to file my story about a truancy contract until after the meeting. (UPDATE: This link will take you to the PowerPoint presentation made to the board last night about the truancy program.)
The move also made for a little more banter among board members. At a previous meeting, Thelma Parks made a small fuss about traveling elsewhere, and Humphreys offered to pick her up and alluded to the movie Driving Miss Daisy.
“I did come as Miss Daisy, and he was really nice to me,” Parks said Monday as the meeting came to a close.
“And she was totally charming,” Humphreys cut in before Parks wound down her remarks.
I blogged yesterday about the role public comments play at school board meetings. Today I’m following up with an answer for Kandis, who commented on the entry to ask for a defined purpose of a school board.
To answer her question, I called Jeff Mills, the new executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.
I’ll start with his response about what a school board is: a local governing body of a school district whose members are either elected or appointed to represent the public. Now on to what they do.
“One of their main functions is to hire a superintendent or a CEO to run that organization. … Their other major responsibility is setting policy,” Mills told me.
He went on to explain: “If I’m a superintendent, I can set a directive or I can set an interoffice activity, but the board is responsible to set legal and legislative type policy to manage the district. … A school board wouldn’t necessarily be involved in the day-to-day operations — that’s what the superintendent or CEO is for.”
Now if you’re wondering just what types of policies he’s referring to, don’t worry, he elaborated. Such policy responsibilities can include everything from school safety to budgeting and expenditures, he said.
Oklahoma City School Board meeting, Sept. 2, 2008 / By Wendy K. Kleinman, The Oklahoman
Mills also talked about the public comments issue that started this conversation.
“There are public participation policies out there, and some of those may limit (comments) to three minutes or so — each one will vary — and they may limit the number of people who may speak on one topic,” Mills said, “for the simple reason that if you have no order you could be there all night.”
UPDATE: To answer a question this entry prompted, school board members’ phone numbers and addresses, at least for Oklahoma City Public Schools, are available to the public. They are listed on this site.
Keep the comments and questions coming!
Back at the Oklahoma City School Board’s Sept. 2 meeting, Chairman Kirk Humphreys said he doesn’t think patrons should be able to raise personnel issues during public comments, upsetting the few parents in attendance.
Although his comments were made a few weeks ago, I’m bringing them up now because of a column in the most recent issue of The School Administrator magazine, which I just received.
The column is by Nicholas Caruso with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. You can read the whole piece here, but one line in particular intrigued me. He wrote:
The board meeting is a meeting held in public,
not a public meeting.
It seems to me that view aligns with Humphreys’ comments, while the parents I spoke with afterward said they feel as though the meetings belong to them.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.