Other Voices: Community invited to support students, schools at board meetings | TheUnion.com

Other Voices: Community invited to support students, schools at board meetings

I would like to thank the parents and staff who attended the Nevada City School District Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 16. My thanks also to The Union newspaper for their informative coverage of our meeting.

That Tuesday night was the board members’ first opportunity to discuss their perspectives on the recent recommendations from the district budget committee which we held Feb. 10. Subsequent to the meeting, the administration assessed the list and attached dollar figures to the suggestions for the board members. As those who attend this meeting realized, our 11 percent budget reduction will have serious program impacts.

The Brown Act, our California open meeting law, requires that the board members meet and discuss district business only during an open meeting, except for certain items that are discussed in closed session. Any time three or more board members discuss district business in person, by e-mail or by phone, altogether or serially, the meeting needs to be noticed and public.

On Feb. 16, some members of the audience were under the impression that the board meeting was only for the purpose of gathering public input and that the board members had already had their own meeting in private. Our usual process is to ask for public comments then close the public comment period to allow the board members time to discuss the issues. Members of the public frequently will have questions or comments after the board members discuss an item, but before a vote is taken.

Each trustee, as well as myself, come to our board meetings prepared and open-minded to public input and ready for discussion. While it may seem odd to watch trustees have a conversation in front of an audience, this is how public business is kept public and open.

We have received many constructive suggestions about how to communicate with the community during this difficult time. Letters have been sent home to parents, information posted on the Web site, and meetings held with site councils and parent groups.

We have three board meetings in March, the 3rd, 9th, and 11th, and encourage your attendance. Board agendas are posted on the Web site, at school sites, and board packets are available for review at all school sites. Feel free to e-mail or telephone our superintendent or board members with questions or suggestions.

The culture of our district is built upon active parent and community involvement, which has always included concern for all of the children, families and the staff in our district. Parents will frequently attend board and committee meetings to support the needs of children other than their own.

As a parent and a trustee, I know how crucial this is to the support of student learning and I encourage your participation.

Trish Gerving is a Nevada City School District trustee.

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