True to its word to try connecting better with constituents, the North Kitsap School District Board of Directors has launched a monthly newsletter with information about the board and a recap of major action taken and issues discussed.
The board took heat last school year for being out of touch with staff and community members after the teachers union issued a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Patty Page. The board, in its annual evaluation of Page, gave her high marks in most areas, but noted the need to improve relations with stakeholders.
The board also pledged to be more responsive to staff and community concerns, and more transparent in how it conducts business on behalf of the district.
“The newsletter is one deliberate action of the board’s on-going effort to improve board communications and community engagement,” said President Beth Worthington. “We initiated a standing agenda item on this topic last May and have been discussing it and implementing actions as we go.”
Other actions have been to re-start a Community Partnership Committee, to change the format of the public hearing on the budget to be an interactive question-and-answer session, and to publicly answer questions to the board that are received at meetings, although the answers sometimes come at the following meeting if research on the question is required. Formerly, the board’s policy was not to respond to questions during the meeting.
The newsletter is published on issue.com, a platform designed for magazines and newsletters. It’s worth signing up for an account if you’re like most people: too busy to sit through a school board meeting or just wanting a summary of the highlights.
The September issue covers the Sept. 8 meeting’s discussion of board goals, the process of hiring a firm to guide the district through the search for a new superintendent, as Patty Page will retire after this year, and the board’s legislative priorities. On Sept. 22, the board approved a contract with transportation workers.
The newsletter gives contact information for all board members and a link to agendas and minutes of past meetings. Agendas include links to documents for many items.
If you want to really stay up to speed on the board, you can read the agendas online in advance and see what issues, if any, require your closer attention. That’s what I do for North Kitsap, and all other local school districts.
The next school board meeting is Thursday (Oct. 13). The start time is listed as 5 p.m. Regular board meetings begin at 6 p.m. in the Board Room of the District Office (18360 Caldart Ave. NE, Poulsbo). Typically, the board uses the 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. slot for study sessions. On Thursday, they will discuss school improvement plans.