Members of the School Board,
I write this letter to each of you as a member of our shared community, as a voter, as a parent of school age children in our district public schools, and as a veteran educator with over twenty years in the classroom.
What I am asking each of you to consider is beyond what has been seen from those in your role in our district, but I hope each of you will consider each of these requests, listed below, in the spirit of becoming more involved and more available to your most important constituents, the students of Manatee County.
• In order to know your sites better, monthly select one of your school sites and volunteer to serve as a substitute where needed, rotating through each school to have a full experience of your area of the district. *As well, do not accept any compensation for this and instead allow each site to save the costs to use for students in need. If each of the five Board members do this over the ten month school year, $4,000.00 would be saved in substitute costs and left with the schools.
• Each month attend some kind of meeting at each of your school’s sites, i.e. faculty, SAC, PTO, etc., even a meeting simply to allow teachers and staff to share moments with you.•
Start and maintain an individual website to allow teachers, parents, and the public to contact you and as a place for you to share what you are learning about your schools.
• Request monthly updates of your sites’ calendars so you may be aware of special events and be a part of celebrations of learning. Imagine the impact on our kids if they see their elected officials cheering them on as well.
• Develop a method as other boards do where public opinion is sought on issues prior to discussion of each issue in an open meeting and time limits are adhered to, making all regular meetings no longer than two hours in length to encourage the public to either attend or watch via TV.
• Finally, during each election cycle where you are involved, agree to participate in debates or forums to discuss district needs with your opponents where the moderators are students from our district. Again, your choice to be transparent and allow students to be a part of the democratic process would be a powerful motivator for our youth to be more active citizens and voters.
Once, one of you was asked why you did not visit schools more often? The response, “Would you like to be visited so often by your boss?” The answer, yes. Absolutely. How can we be led if the leaders rarely show their faces where their decisions have the most impact? You are welcome at our schools, in our classrooms, and in our students’ lives. Please, make the School Board more a part of our schools and our community.
Jason M. Troop, M.Ed., NBCT