Monday, December 15, 2008

Update on Public Hearings

Our good friends over at the West Seattle Blog had this about the public hearings and the weather via Patti Spencer at the District:

"At this time, we plan to proceed with all scheduled public hearings. If there is a change, we will announce that immediately via our Web site and other means. We understand that some locations in the city are experiencing more challenging road conditions than others. We want our families and community to be safe, and we also want to hear from them. In addition to public hearings, we also continue to receive feedback via e-mail at capacity@seattleschools.org and schoolboard@seattleschools.org"

The weather is due to stay cold and perhaps snow Wednesday or Thursday night. So be careful out there.

Also, some thoughts on what might or might not help in public remarks:

-the obvious - no name-calling, no swearing, no yelling - your audience will tune you and your message out
-humor always helps - takes the bite out the situation and calms the room down
-matching t-shirts don't help (sorry, nor do school songs)
-don't threaten to leave the district or threaten a lawsuit (threats don't work)
-children speaking, well, heck, of course it works but it would work for any school because every kid loves his or her school (and all kids are cute)
-talk about your school but not so much on stats (unless something is dramatically different over the last 3 years) but what makes your school a community
-talk about options or other possibilities, not so much in "pick any other school but us" but any other options. Just from this blog alone there have been a tremendous number of ideas generated. Brainstorming isn't a bad thing.
-if someone says something about your school that is not true, don't call them a liar (see the line one); explain why that isn't true and how you know it.
-know your data! Do not "think" it's true or "I heard it somewhere". Nope, do the research and look it up.
-if you agree with an idea; say so. The more people who say the same thing, the more likely the Board will listen. If you believe we should be doing the assignment plan first, say so.

Last one and it's HUGE - practice, practice, practice, don't ad lib. Don't believe you "know" how long three minutes is; go in the kitchen and hit the timer. You'll be very surprised at how time flies. Don't believe you can cram 4 minutes into 3. You can't and you'll be upset at what you leave out. And for any public hearing/Board meeting, don't waste valuable time thanking the Board or the Superintendent. They are supposed to be there and supposed to listen; don't waste 15 seconds thanking them for doing their jobs.

13 comments:

zb said...

"-children speaking, well, heck, of course it works but it would work for any school because every kid loves his or her school (and all kids are cute)"

I'll say that cute little kids don't mean much, but articulate high school students, following all the other rules, do seem to have something to say.

add said...

I'm not sure I agree with the advice about "don't talk stats, talk about how you are a community". The district/board is supposed to making these decisions based on certain criteria - many of which are quantitative - so it would seem that "evidence" that the criteria are not being met would be important.

I think every school could talk about how it is a community - but ultimately, if you are a great community does that mean that your program/building won't close? I doubt it.

Beth Bakeman said...

FYI, the updated hearing sign-up lists have been posted.

The Genesee Hill building list is the only one that is "full" with 40 people, and a wait list of 5 more.

If you end up on the wait list at Genesee Hill or any other building hearing, don't worry. You'll almost definitely get a chance to speak. Either someone won't show up, or the Board will extend the time to allow all interested people to speak, or someone will give you their spot, or some combination of the above.

So if you have something you want to say, make sure you call or e-mail to sign up to speak at one of the hearings this week (assuming they aren't cancelled or postponed because of weather).

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am signed up at Genesee Hill but can't make it so there's one more space there.

Megan Mc said...

AS#1 had a great turn out. We had speakers right up until 8:30 and the cafeteria was full. We served dinner cooked by AS#1 students and faculty and donated by local businesses. Parents, students, alumni, teachers, and community members all stated their support for keeping the AS#1 program in the Pinehurst building. There was no one there who spoke in favor of closing the building. The transcript will be posted on the capacity management site tomorrow. Speakers focused on the capacity issue, the need to preserve AS#1's unique program, and the lack of money saved by closing Pinehurst ($130,000 a year according to the district in 2006).

Beth Bakeman said...

Megan, Thanks so much for your report! I was sitting here working, but also wondering how the hearings went tonight.

Can you post this comment on the North/NE Clusters thread from earlier this week as well?

I'm really glad to hear it went well at the AS#1 hearing tonight.

add said...

Melissa, sorry you can't make it to Genesee Hill. I would have enjoyed hearing your point of view in that forum.

TechyMom said...

Would one of the contributors mind starting a thread on Obama's Education Secretary pick? I'd like to hear what people who follow education think of him. Thanks!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did write about possibilities for Obama's pick on December 6th. As soon as I get the chance, I'll start a thread about his pick, Arne Duncan.

WS said...

I took notes on the second half of the radio show today with Dr. G-J and Michael DB. Added them to a preview post about the public hearing that we're having at Genesee Hill tonight (pre-snow, I hope). If anyone here writes about the radio show, I'll add that link too - Tracy @ WSB

Beth Bakeman said...

The hearings tonight are still a "go" despite the weather. I just got the following message for the Genesee Hill hearing, and assume they are sending similar messages to people signed up for the other two hearings.

"We want to thank those of you who have signed up to testify at tonight's public hearing and those who wish to attend. The weather has created concerns about safety, and we send this information to update you about conditions around the Genesee Hill building where the hearing will be held from 6:30-8:30 tonight.


Road conditions this morning lead us to recommend that those who choose to attend the hearing carpool and look for parking along the north shoulder (school side) of Genesee. That road was recently sanded. While there is some remaining ice on the shoulder area, it is much clearer than the south side of Genesee.

The sidewalks and steps into the school building were sanded this morning by SDOT, and staff requested that Dakota and 51st be sanded as well by SDOT since there was ice on both of these side streets. The school playground is CLOSED for your safety because of ice, so please look for parking along Genesee. Metro bus information is available at http://tripplanner.metrokc.gov/cgi-bin/itin_page.pl?resptype=U


We ask that people enter the building from the corner of 51st and Genesee and follow the signs to the cafeteria where the hearing will be conducted starting at 6:30.

We want our families and staff to be safe, and we also want to hear your input. If you make the decision not to attend tonight, we want you to know that we are reading the emails that come in to capacity@seattleschools.org as we will also read the transcripts of each public hearing held this week. Transcripts will also be posted to our capacity management web site which you can visit from our home page at http://www.seattleschools.org


Thank you for your participation in this engagement process as we prepare final recommendations for further public review.

Sincerely,

Bridgett

Bridgett Chandler, Executive Director of Communication"

Roy Smith said...

Here is a link to the transcript from last night's AS#1/Pinehurst hearing.

snaffles said...

All very, very good ideas. Especially make sure you know the facts. And have the ability to say where the data comes from.

Also if a board member or someone else counters the data with their own data, check it out, ask where they got the information (nicely) and then verify if they have found something you didn't.

Always know the facts and always be ready to answer the questions regarding the facts, or be willing to find the answer.

And I wish I could say that all that has been suggested and what I have added is going to keep your school open, but I can't.

I do believe that the assignment plan should happen BEFORE school closures. It is the only way to know where the students will really be.

Thanks to all of you doing the research and making the meetings, your doing a great job of keeping us informed.