In District: School board revives a great tradition

School District patrons are the beneficiaries of the return of a good tradition: board meetings out in the communities served.

The Hood River County School Board meets Wednesday at Wy’east Middle School, in its first meeting since the start of the 2013-14 school year on Sept. 3.

New superintendent Dan Goldman and board chair Liz Whitmore reinstituted the practice of alternating the meetings between the district office and the local schools.

Most months, the two regular board meetings are split between the district and a school. The next board meeting will be Sept. 25 at the district office, and the next in-the-field session will be Oct. 9 at Cascade Locks School. Meetings typically start at 6:30 p.m.

There are many good reasons for moving the meetings around, starting with generally improved access: not every session happens in Hood River.

Further, the district office meeting room is the smallest and probably the least comfortable for the public of any space available to the board.

Convening in the schools gives each campus a turn to show off a bit, and helps broaden the perspective of the board and staff members. Three key HRCSD administrators are new to the district this year: Goldman, Curriculum chief Erin Lolich and Finance Chief Saundra Buchanan. Additionally, there are two new school board members: David Russo and Julia Ramirez-Garcia.

The schools are true community centers, so it is appropriate that they be used for people to gather in the common interest. Bringing school leaders to the places affected by their decisions is good business sense. It creates stronger connections between places and programs and the people involved.

The showcase factor is important, too: typically, the board hears about programs or developments at the host school.

At the very least, meeting at the school buildings gives patrons of that area an opportunity to speak their minds to the board while in their own neighborhood. People may be reticent to attend, or speak, for a variety of reasons, but this way, at least once a month people won’t have to travel far to have their say or to just listen and observe.

Which means that with the outreach fostering increased public contact to school leaders, it is up to community to make use of the opportunity.

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