Friday, July 16, 2010

School board eyes improved openness

New public information initiatives discussed; action deferred until August

Express Staff Writer

Mike Chatterton

The Blaine County School District board of trustees pondered increased public openness during a meeting Tuesday evening, but decided to defer action on any new initiatives until its next regular meeting in August.

"I know we're not perfect, but we could be absolutely perfect next year," board Chair Julie Dahlgren said.

The discussion arose while the board was considering approval of meeting dates for the 2010-11 school year and official posting locations for meeting notices and agendas.

Trustee Paul Bates suggested that future board meetings be held at the Distant Learning Center at Wood River High School rather than at the small meeting room at the district office on Bullion Street in Hailey.

"It's a much nicer place," said Bates, mentioning that the Distant Learning Center is larger, has more comfortable seating and can better accommodate public attendance.

"I concur with Trustee Bates," said Trustee Steve Guthrie. "I believe that we've grown out of this venue."

Regarding meeting notices, Bates suggested that press releases be issued for special school board meetings and that more effort be made to inform the public that a meeting will be held and what will be discussed at the meeting.

The school board has held nine special meetings in 2010 and plans a tenth for next Tuesday. Until June, the board did not advise the news media in advance of special meetings but only posted meeting notices and agendas at four locations in Hailey.

"We need to notice thoroughly enough that we can defend ourselves that we have done due diligence," Bates said.

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Guthrie further suggested that two "town meetings" be held by the board, one in October and another in March.

"I look forward to August and I look forward to discussing this," Guthrie said.

In other business, the board unanimously re-elected Dahlgren as board chair and Daniel Parkes as vice chair.

The board also accepted the resignation of Trustee Mari Beth Matthews, who has moved to California. The board will now advertise a vacancy for three weeks. Anyone interested needs to live within Zone 3, which encompasses western and northern Hailey and the area north of the city, and submit a letter to board Clerk Laurie Kaufman.

After three weeks, board members and Superintendent Lonnie Barber will interview applicants and make a selection.

The board gave an accolade to district Business Manager Mike Chatterton, who was recently named Business Official of the Year by the Idaho Association of School Business Officials.

Chatterton was nominated for the award by Dahlgren and Matthews.

"It was an honor to be part of that," Dahlgren said. "Mike, you are great."

"It's a great award for me," Chatterton said, "but I owe a lot of people because they helped me get there."

Terry Smith:

Special meeting

The Blaine County School District board of trustees will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, July 20, at 12:30 p.m. to hear information on the possibility of implementing a "flexible schedule" at Wood River High School. Assistant Superintendent John Blackman said the concept has been explored for the past year and the special meeting will be a workshop for the trustees. Blackman described the flexible schedule concept as similar to class schedules at colleges, where each class is not always held daily, and said it would give the school more flexibility in scheduling elective courses. He said the earliest that the concept could be implemented would be for the 2011-12 school year. The meeting is not an executive session, meaning it's open to the public. It's scheduled to last until 2 p.m.

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