One discussion item at the May 14 school board meeting was the request for the board to authorize a group to help the school board find interested people for committees.
There are times when the school board needs committees to be formed in order to work through decisions that have lasting effects.
At the last meeting there was a request from the school board for Hill City Schools Advisory Committee to come up with specific language that the board could decide whether it was something they approve of.
The Hill City Schools Advisory Committee has been meeting for a few months now. Chad Ronish, high school science teacher and one of the representatives of a new community committee, said there are around 70 people who have been following what the group does and around 25 people are members.
A sheet of people he gave to everyone listed a motion for the school board to “name the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee as the community selection committee to make nominations for the purpose of obtaining broader community representation.”
Ronish also handed out another sheet of committees that the group feels could be created. Ronish said the committees would be good additions to what has been going on to help the process of establishing communication with all people again.
The goal would be to create collaborative discussion. Students and teachers would both be involved.
School board member Greg Schroeder said the request made by the group didn’t meet the school board’s policy. Schroeder said the group was supposed to create a more concrete plan rather than the more generalized one that was presented.
Dennis Krull, school board member, said endorsing the committee and anybody on it was not something the board wants to do.
“When I say this board I mean the school district. We are operating under the bylaws of the district,” Krull said.
“It’s not just what us five want to do. It’s by what by the law we are going to do; by statute, this is what we have to do.”
Krull went on to say that that it would be great if the committee members want to give input into the the technology committee or budget committee. But, Krull said they can’t just acknowledge that they are going to take input from just the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee.
Schroeder was not sure why the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee needed the school board’s blessing.
Karen McKee, Hill City elementary school teacher, said the group felt that if they weren’t established then they wouldn’t be taken seriously.
She said the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee was an attempt to offer help the school board.
“I think some of you are looking at it as an attack, which it’s not,” McKee said.
School board member Mike Welu said over the last four to five months there has been some upheaval about school decisions.
“We have this desire to have more input on board actions or board decisions,” Welu said.
The motivation to have community input on the school board was not there in the last four to five months.
Welu made the point that the school board is a committee of community members. The school board’s responsibility is to oversee the actions of the administration.
“From my viewpoint we have a community committee here,” Welu said.
“Part of my concern is you are wanting a committee to oversee a committee.”
The school board was formed out of a process of an election and already does what a community committee needs to do.
Welu said at some point the administrators have to do their job and the school board that has the oversight of the administrators need to do their job.
“Do we need another committee whose sole purpose it is to form committees?” Welu asked.
He said there are great reasons to have committees form, such as when the district needs to update technology.
“I think committees with input should be based on a special need,” Welu said.
Carmen Ronish, school board candidate, said there is a disconnect in that the committee is not just a group that oversees everything but allows the school board to have people on hand that would be a good fit for committee positions.
The committee could spread information about the type of person that the school board is looking for. Hill City Schools Advisory Committee could also provide people with an application that they just then have to give to the school board.
“It’s helping facilitate what you are already trying to do,” Ronish said.
Howie Euneau, a member of Hill City Schools Advisory Committee, said the idea of the committee is to get the board more resources.
“You’ve got community members that want to stay involved, keep active in the school system and contributing,” Euneau said.
Chad Ronish said the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee was the community’s attempt to try to initiate communication with the board. Ronish said the Hill City Schools Advisory Committee would like to be the bridge to get people on committees.
Superintendent Mike Hanson also presented to the board three ideas for committees that could be formed. One was a Strategic Planning and Accreditation Advisory Committee that would be tasked with creating a strategic plan for the school district. Additionally, this committee will create a new vision statement. Another committee would be a task force on long range facility planning. This task force will be responsible for providing the board of education a recommendation for placement of grades within available buildings in the school district. A technology acquisition advisory committee would be another committee superintendent Hanson wants to form. This committee will be responsible for providing the board of education recommendations for information technology needs.
Krull said there needs to be school board members on the committee, too, and the school board might look different after the election. There was a consensus to hold off on starting the process of forming advisory committees until the next school board meeting.