The Board of Education next meets on August 30. Aside from some regular BOE business, this is slated to be the Board's annual "Retreat." If you've been reading my blog from the beginning, you'll know that for the previous two years, I have bristled a little at that characterization. In the normal definition of a corporate retreat, a company's management goes off-site to take a big picture view of operations and discuss things like the mission and goals for the coming year. The retreat format allows for deeper, more philosophical discussions -- and participants are removed from the day-to-day minutia that normally interferes with this type of conceptual thinking.
The Board of Education "retreat" is substantially different.
#1 We don't go anywhere. We're required to meet in public, so we need to stay here in Ridgewood for public access.
#2 We can't spend any money, so we can't pay to use any other facility like a hotel conference room or something like that.
#3 We hold it as part of a regularly scheduled meeting, so the time we can spend is limited.
#4 The meeting is public, which does have an impact on the "frankness" of the discussions. Participants may be hesitant to discuss certain feelings or be critical of one's self or others, in a public forum. That's human nature.
#5 A representative from the New Jersey School Boards Association comes to "facilitate" our self-evaluation and goal-setting session.
I complain about this every year. I'm going to do so again this year.
I think the idea of a Board retreat is good one. I think we could benefit from some soul-searching and conceptual thinking about what we do and how we do it. I think removing ourselves physically from the Ed Center would help re-focus the conversation. Isn't there some way we could get more from the Retreat process? Isn't there anyplace else in Ridgewood or vicinity where we could meet? What about Village Hall? The Library? Maybe at one of our schools? Maybe there's some empty office space that a local landlord would loan for a day? And when I say "a day" I mean an entire day. Sure, the meeting could still be public...if anyone wants to sit around and watch us talk for a day, they would be welcome to do so...
These are my thoughts, once again, as we approach our annual retreat/meeting. In the meantime, I'm thinking about goals for the 2010 school year. The format is usually for the Board and administration to come up with a list of goals for the District, and a list of goals for the Board.
What do you think our goals should be for this new school year?
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