Critical decisions are being made — what’s our responsibility?
Some of the conversation at the school district workshop on Saturday targeted communications. Here’s part of what was said: Not everyone reads the local newspaper, not everyone reads online reports, not everyone goes to school board meetings, not everyone checks the district website, not everyone checks Facebook, not everyone — fill in the blanks.
While many at the meeting complimented the district for the superintendent’s series of published reports on the district’s fiscal situation and for its website and Facebook page, it’s not enough, they said. Their perception is the district and school board can do more to reach out to the community. The value of additional workshops — on a more regular schedule — and a district newsletter going home with students or even sent to everyone in the community were among ideas mentioned.
After the workshop, conversations continued in small groups. The consensus in one discussion was that using numerous avenues to reach the community gives the district and trustees a better chance of communicating with the most people.
Board president Dawn Perfect said she and the other trustees are willing to talk with anyone who wants to talk to them — individually or in a group. In the next three months, the district will decide what a potential bond amount on the November ballot will be, and what projects will be on that bond, she said. Will it be to pay off the district’s decade-old debt only, will it be to pay off the debt plus $15 million for specific projects, will it be to tax as much as the community’s property values will allow, or will it be something else?
Whatever it is, if the community passes a bond, it affects all of us — property owners and renters — and it behooves us to learn as much as we can so we can cast an informed vote. That’s our job as citizens.
The school district has made strides in communicating with the community. Check its website, www.ramonausd.net. It’s loaded with information. If you don’t have a computer or are not on the Internet, go to the library where computers are available for public use. The senior center also has computers.
One mother at the workshop said some people are apathetic. True, but others are dealing with situations such as an active family, a job commute of an hour or more each day, a serious illness, a divorce, little or no income other than public assistance, or a language barrier.
Improving the district’s community outreach benefits everyone. A few suggestions for the district: Use your email data bank to send information and to ask for comments and suggestions; put that information on your website and share public feedback with the community; use your phone bank to share information about upcoming public workshops and meetings; continue to use your local newspaper and online media; send flyers or newsletters home with students; and school board members, be proactive, don’t wait for a phone call or invitation. Let the senior center, business and social organizations, and neighborhood and religious groups know you’re available to talk with them or their representatives. When you’re done talking, listen and consider their viewpoints.
The rest is up to us.
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