02/08/2014 – Communication

Internal and External Communication To and From the Board

02/08/2014 Board Retreat

Zendra Bowie (Director of Field Services for GSBA) – Everything you put down on paper is subject to Open Records.
[There was a discussion about including everybody in emails. I think there was also discussion about getting board documents timely. They are happy that there is only one board meeting a month instead of 15-20 like there was at one time.]
Coleman – I like that the Superintendent responds to public comments. I would like the board to engage the public regarding public comments. All agenda items need to include the staff recommendation instead of the recommendation, sometimes, given on the day of the board meeting.
Zendra Bowie – Mr. Thurmond, when you respond to citizens regarding public comment, do you CC the board?
Thurmond – No
Zendra Bowie – It would be helpful if everybody was on the same page and knew what you were saying.
McMahan – Internally we have improved our process with board meetings and agenda items. I suggest we get our books the Wednesday or Thursday before the board meeting. I would like to set expectations on responding to emails.
Morley – When we are talking about getting things in a timely manner, I don’t want to be included in emails that don’t pertain to me. I don’t want to always be included. I wish people would pick up the phone sometimes.
We need to communicate better on agenda items. We need to stop changing the agenda on the day of board meetings.
I’d like to see how we are nice to each other. If we can’t speak to each other, what are we going to tell the kids? There are times when we pass right by each other in the hall. [Trouble in paradise?]
Zenda Bowie – The agenda belongs to the board. There should be no surprises. There should be a specific procedure for adding items to the agenda. No single board member should be able to add an item. The law says the agenda can be revised as necessary.
Johnson – I’d like the board to be consistent in communication. If you need information, you need to request it. Please be clear and concise as to what you need. Be sensitive to the staff’s time.
Mayfield – We need a communications plan. A plan that includes communication between board members and to the public. One option is a blog.
Internal communications – I would like to see a standard on communications related to board meeting items. For example, the transaction process, those decisions for me have been made 90 days before we get the documents. Instead of including us at the end of engaging vendors, we could be involved sooner.
I would like to see the board involved in RFP decision making.
Thurmond – I believe what you described happens. When you adopt budget, the components are itemized.
Mayfield – The components that make up the budget are presented to us after the budget is presented. We get subsequent transactions to spend the budget. I don’t see the definition of the expense until it’s requested to spend it.
McMahan – Mayfield is saying that if the budget requests money for something then we should see more detail about that request.
Zenda Bowie – I am an outsider, but you are digging to deep. This is the budget process. You don’t need to see how every nickle and dime is spent. The budget is supposed to be a sense of how it is to be spent. You don’t want to get into the weeds.
Mayfield – If that assumption is true, then all items would be approved.
Thurmond – Your job is to make sure that the items that come before you fall within the approved budget.
Carter – We don’t want to micro manage the Superintendent’s job. What your asking isn’t necessarily wrong, but we don’t want to get into the weeds.
I love that Mr. Thurmond responds to all citizens that make public comments. I would like us to weigh in as well.
Coleman – We need to formalize setting the agenda and let the public know how it works. There should be a very high threshold for setting last minute agenda items.
The processing of public comment. Many people don’t know we follow up on comment. Perhaps we can have an update during public comments on things we have followed up on.
Orson – Blogs and social media. Large entities are reluctant to engage in social media. The reality is that we are in a social media world. [Everybody looks at Quinn Hudson – Director of Communications]
Morley – Thad, no disrespect, but I disagree with you. I see what is brought to us in an elaborate form. We don’t need to be involved in every RFP. This is why we have a Superintendent. We don’t want to micromanage. Respect the Superintendent. … [note: she has gone on for 5 – 10 minutes saying the same thing.]
The Superintendent has done a fantastic job. The board has done a fantastic job.
Thurmond – Let the teachers do their job and principals do their job. You’ve hired me to make it happen. Some of the questions are providing more obstacles than solving problems. Our staff spends a lot of time on some of these questions and the answers don’t manifest themselves anywhere.
You hired me to do a job. If I’m not successful, then fire me.
I’ve done a gross injustice communicating my thoughts. The feedback I’m getting isn’t related to my suggestion.
[Break for lunch … I wasn’t back in time to finish the discussion on this agenda item …]