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Kennedale
Friday, December 9, 2022

Is more information a good thing or a bad thing?

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? ? ?With the election of new officers for the Kennedale Board of Trustees and with a new school year to plan, maybe now is a time to consider a change.
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? ? ?I heard over and over the call for “transparency” and better communication during the last election cycle. Some candidates felt like there were too many surprises and it was too hard to find out what was happening in the district until it had already happened. Well, those candidates lost but the issue remains, at least for them and their supporters. {{more}}
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? ? ?I went online to visit school district websites in the area to see what, if any thing, that they were doing different. I discovered that they all provided essentially the same information, just different ways to get at it. There were several notable exceptions and those were school districts in Mansfield, Arlington and White Settlement. The one thing that they did different was that they posted, alongside the agendas for each school board meeting, a ?packet.? For those not aware, each board member gets a ?board packet? prior to each scheduled meeting.
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? ? ?These packets include all pertinent information and reports for the board member to make an informed decision or to formulate educated questions. The packets generally include staff recommendations and reasons for the recommendations. The packets are invaluable in making decisions and keeping the meetings from lasting to midnight and longer.
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? ? ?The board packets use to be large cumbersome things, containing page after page of printed material. These packets were hand delivered to each board member before each meeting. Some times edited versions were provided to the “press” but the cost was too great to mass produce – that was before the days of the internet. Now these packets are cut and pasted together in the administrative office and zipped to the board members via their computers.
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? ? ?Every wonder what the board members were looking at on their I-Pads?
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? ? ?The aforementioned districts post a packet on line for anyone to access and download prior to the scheduled meeting. These packets are modified and do not include information by law that can not be shared or is not appropriate i.e. personnel, real estate negotiations, etc.
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? ? ?For those who care enough to want to know what the issues that the board is having to wrestle with, packets are a wealth of information and answer almost all questions that might arise. Without this information, attending school board meetings makes for a frustrating experience. The board member has all the information in front of him/her. There is very little need to discuss the item. A call for a vote is made. The ayes usually have it and the board moves on to the next agenda item. The public is sitting there and wondering what just happened and why.
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? ? ?It would be a new and maybe scary feeling for board members. More people might want to ask questions. It would also be sharing a sense of power or entitlement. There are those elected officials who would say that the public elected me to make the hard decisions and, in turn, the public has to trust me.
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? ? ?Should it be considered? Yes.

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