As we near the end of March and the start of April we approach the next stage in the timeline for the new Student Assignment Plan,
I noted the order of the next stage of activity.
April – June 2008
* Continue revisions as needed
* Review of revised proposal by internal stakeholders and ongoing community engagement
* Introduction of new student assignment plan recommendation at School Board meeting (May)
* Public engagement prior to Board action
* School Board action on recommended student assignment plan (June)
I see that the public engagement comes AFTER the introduction of the new student assignment plan recommendation at a School Board meeting in May. That would normally give the public just two weeks or so (the time between the introduction of an action item and the Board vote on the action item) to comment on the new plan. Moreover, the public "engagement" is on a written plan with a number of intricate and inter-related parts. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for a member of the public to make an effective comment on such a plan through the methods of communication available - email and public testimony at a Board meeting. These are both asynchronous monologue techniques and they are both intended only for brief comments. They do not represent authentic engagement.
Although each stage of the timeline makes reference to "ongoing community engagement", until there is some sort of plan before people, there is nothing to engage over, no grist for the mill. Note, for example, that there is no public change intended throughout the January - March stage of the timeline. What community engagement could be expected in the absence of anything to engage over?
It would be a good idea for the District to extend the time between the introduction of the plan to the Board (and the public) and the time for the Board vote. During that extended interval, the District could - and should - host public meetings on the proposal.
These meetings should be conducted like the drop-in meetings we saw in the early stages of the development of the plan. This style of meetings led to real engagement and conversation. The District should NOT conduct one of their notorious facilitated meetings - such as the one conducted at Sealth - which are clearly designed to suppress opposition to the recommended plan rather than gather ideas, concerns, and improvements from the community.