School boards hard to contact

I saw a reference to this on http://www.TalkingTPS.com. I think it is great the Cinci Enquirer is doing this investigation and they are taking a stand on board being accessible to the public at meetings and virtually. These stories sound oh, so familiar.

"Richard Martin recently tried to speak to the Lakota school board about its plan to reassign thousands of elementary students to smooth out overcrowding in many school buildings.

It was a complicated plan that ultimately passed. Martin attended a public school board meeting and tried to express his frustrations about the plan. But Lakota - like many area school boards -restricts speakers to three minutes.

"I got extremely irritated," Martin says. "There was a guy there with a stopwatch. I think there has to be a better way because it really gives a negative impression to the public."

And those who take the time to show up at a board meeting often run into strict time limits of five minutes or less.

"Those results are surprising," says Ohio School Boards Association spokesman Scott Ebright of the Enquirer's findings. "In some districts it may be an oversight and in some it may be intentional. School Web sites are still an emerging technology and I'm not sure some districts know how to use it yet."

In Butler County's Fairfield Schools, board member Arnie Engel is the only one of the five-member board who has a phone number posted on the district's Web site.

The other board members post e-mail addresses.

While many school Web sites post color photos of board members, biographical information - such as when board members were elected, what educational background they have or what sort of work they do - is rare.

Many citizens would like to know even more, such as whether school board members ever put their own kids through the district's schools.

So assuming you manage to find out when the school board will be addressing a topic you care about, and you hope to speak during a public meeting, you'd better be quick about it. Some boards limit speaking time to as little as three minutes.

Response can be slow

Even if board members offer an e-mail address, that doesn't necessarily mean they'll promptly respond to questions.

The Enquirer also tested how long it took for board presidents to respond to a simple but important question: How long can a resident comment during a school board meeting?

The test e-mail was sent at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 to 41 school boards that offered an e-mail option.

One week later, only 23 district officials - about 56 percent - had e-mailed an answer.

The first to respond to the test question was Princeton Board of Education President Sandy Leach, who replied in about 12 hours.

"That's part of my duty as an elected official, to respond to people as quickly as I can," said Leach.

Read the article here

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The article states that finding websites with board member pictures and background information is rare. I suggest you go to the Sylvania Schools website and there you will find pictures and background information on their board members.

bill

You can find links to schools in the local area at:
http://toledolinks.com/education.html

For a one-stop site to get links to school districts throughout Ohio, go over to:
http://www.osba-ohio.org/schools.htm

Roland's Ramblings
http://www.theglitch.ws/roland/

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