Friday, October 24, 2008

Public Hearings - Edmonds School District Style

I'm kind of old-fashioned. I always thought that a public hearing was something that was widely announced to the community, had materials available for review to the public well in advance and a well informed public would come with questions and comments in order to have an actual DISCUSSION of the issues. Well, I guess ESD does things a bit differently.

I heard about the "public hearing" for the State Performance Audit because I happened to be one of the 10 people that attend board meetings and look at the agenda before the meeting (I noticed that the Facilities Use Policy was NOT a point of discussion and magically turned up as BEING on the agenda - but that is another topic). There was no information to review, no links to what was to be discussed, zero, zip, nada. I checked my son's school newsletter and the school website (that provides me of important information about the school) and didn't see anything. Here we go again - if you don't tell people about a topic, then you can guarantee that the public can not provide comments that you might not agree with.

During the board meeting, Marla Miller went into great detail about how the audit was oh so wrong and misleading. Well, she said, we can ALWAYS learn something and we will try to improve on what makes sense, but for the most part, the auditors just don't know what they are talking about. No plans on what she was planning to look into, no expectations of time frame, no accountability, zip, nothing, nada.

Then came the Board, member after member lamenting how unfair the audit was and reminding the public that they were "picked on" (sarcastically) to receive special treatment by the State. Nothing that stated how they might actually consider learning or consider anything of value from the process, nothing, zip, nada.

So they opened public comments and asked if anyone wanted to speak. After quickly scanning the information provided 5 minutes before the "hearing" , I put a couple of words together on the fly (within my 3 minute time limit) and asked the board to consider directing staff to come back with some kind of recommendations on what COULD work to bring SOME Savings to the district (this after they spent hours trying to figure our how to charge non-profits maybe $50k per year to offset the budget reductions and why $50k was so important). The response? Well, a bit better. Some "head nods" up and down. Any direction? None, zip, nada, nothing.

To be kind, this was not a public hearing. It was a "check mark" to say that they "did something". Business as usual with the ESD Board.

Rick Jorgensen


Anonymous said...

I have noticed that "First Readings" or "Second Readings" do not involve any actual reading. They mention that a board policy is to be revised but never bother to actually read the revisions.

These are really stupid board members. Sadly, it doesn't say much for our community to keep them in place.

Anonymous said...

They also did not mention any of the comments taken during the audit from employees regarding the work place and treatment of employees. From what I read the employees are saying much the same stuff the blog is saying but of course it was anonymous OH I forgot Nick doesn't like anonymous unless it is done through your labor groups - what a crock!