The upcoming school year is just around the corner. School board members from around the state gathered to talk about the most important issues regarding the 2019-2020 school year.
This allows school boards to get the necessary information they need before they start approving upcoming bills, budgets, or even hiring new employees in their districts.
While we might think every school board meeting is the same, this one is a little different.
State Superintendent, Kirsten Baesler says, “Parents, family, and all of our community members should care about this meeting this particular workshop happening because it is their locally elected school board leaders. They are the people they put in a position to guide and lead their local school.”
School board leaders from around North Dakota are talking about a variety of issues.
Grand Forks Public School Board, Cynthia Shabb says, “I think for the Grand Forks Public Schools our biggest conversation right now are facilities, facilities planning, looking ahead on where we are going with facilities and strategic planning for the district.”
Whether it’s facilities, school safety, mental health, or new programs, the general consensus about school problems is all about the same.
“What we are seeing is every school district that is being impacted for these issues, whether it is north, south, east, or west, big, small, or medium,” says Baesler. “It’s not exclusive to any one type of school. These are big issues that we can be talking about as a state.”
And it wasn’t just discussing issues from our educators …
“We are hearing parents saying we want our students to be exposed to they may think they want to be in,” Baesler says. “They may want to be an architect, but when they get to spend a day in the office with an architect they may come home and say they never want to do that in their life. Let’s do that in middle school and high school rather than wait for them to spend 2 or 3 years on a college education to get that.”
The school board members aren’t meant to fix the problems but simply discuss and come up with policies and mechanisms that are most important in their communities, so they will be ready for the upcoming legislation.
“So really not to let school members forget that their primary purpose is student achievement and not a good balance sheet at the end of the day,” says Baesler.
Baesler says we need to do a better job of going over what our students have learned instead of just what we are teaching them.
“So how can we measure what they have really learned and how do we do that in a way that they can really apply what they learn to real-life problems that are relevant to them.”
Another reason this meeting is so vital is it teaches school board members they have more power than they even realize.
“We had four or five school districts ready to apply for a waiver for a state law so they could do something different and when they sat down to write the waiver they realized there was no law standing in their way. It was simply a school board practice or policy,” says Baesler.
This is the second year they have done this particular training and participants grew by 39 percent since last year.
Baesler says the best way to make any changes as a parent is to sit down with your school leaders because they are the ones who make the biggest impacts.
The Interim Policy Committees will be meeting next week to go in to further detail about upcoming policies. Education policy changes happen every 2 years.
Next year they hope to have a school board panel and expect even more people to come out.