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D122 to Revisit Communication With Residents During Meetings

Follow some complaints over the board's responsiveness at meetings, new board President Nick DiSandro hopes to create more dialogue.

New District 122 school board President Nick DiSandro said communication was what he wanted to improve most when he was elected to the board last month.

Less than a week after taking a seat on the board, he's asking the board to revisit its policies in regard to public comments and board interaction with residents at meetings.

Under the school board's current policy, the board is allowed to listen to public comments but not provide feedback.

"To open the lines of communication between the board and our community, we have decided to revisit the policy and see if there isn’t a better way to have an open dialogue," DiSandro said in a news release.

At last week's school board meeting, an exchange occurred that when it comes to communicating with the board members. Just after resident Phil Adair criticized the members for their lack of dialogue with the public or among themselves making decisions, resident Karen Little sought answers about raises in the district.

Former board President Kathy Markus eventually cut off Little when she continued to push for answers, saying that it's board policy to not respond to the public comments.

"I'll admit I was rather taken aback by the tone of the response I received," Little said in comments on a previous article. "I look forward to a new board with fresh leadership and a proposed commitment to more open communication."

On some occasions, the board members have responded to various comments, such as Adair's previous request to have Libery Junior High School renamed. Superintendent Mike Sass will sometimes respond to comments later in the meeting, and in this case asked public commenters to come with facts in hand.

"You have the right to your own opinions, but you don't have the right to your own facts," he said.

The board will discuss its communication policies at its next meeting, which is at 5:30 p.m. today at the . In the meantime, DiSandro asked residents with questions to email the Board of Education at boe@nlsd122.org. All board policies, including the ones that will be under consideration (2:230 and 8:110), can be found on the school district's website

Marie May 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM
I think public comments and questions that can be answered right away, should be. If the board needs additional time to gather the information, then addressing it at a later meeting open to the public would be proper. I 'd like to see this district managed, and my tax dollars spent, in a more transparent, open, efficient, cost-effective and "green" (like the iPad purchases) way by putting all FOIA-able information on their website.
Chris Pantuso May 10, 2011 at 11:57 AM
Marie - Great point. The NLSD122 BOE should act as is they're always under FOIA laws - because they are. So, recognizing this why not email communications from the BOE to all interested parties? Since I'm new to NL, this very well may already be done for NLSD122. I know it's done for the LW High Schools for I receive them electronically. The great thing about the LW HS BOE emails: 1) they're bulleted points so it's not a 3 ring binder (the old legal trick of "bury them in information/discovery" doesn't apply here; 2) they're in WRITING and since it's coming via email - 3) they're DATE and TIME stamped. I've found it difficult for elected officials to hide when their thoughts are written down in a date and time stamped format for all to see. We just have to take the time to see it - and then ACT!
Jo Ann Gindville May 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM
I think that if they enough info to address the question being asked they should do so at the time, but I also think that if they need time to check their facts it should be OK for them to get back to that question at a later date. We need to practice what we are hopefully teaching in the classroom that no question is a dumb question.
Chris Pantuso May 11, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Ms. Gindville - I agree - as long as the perceived "dumb question" - and its corresponding answer in writing that has a time and date stamp on it.

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