Please provide more public dialogue / transparency in Millburn School District!
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Please provide more public dialogue and transparency in Millburn Public School District!
Dear Superintendent Burton, Assistant Superintendent Arlington and Millburn Board of Education,
We are concerned parents and members of the Millburn School District community who seek more public dialogue and transparency regarding policies and practices in the Millburn Public School District. We believe that this will be helpful in order to address widely held concerns regarding student wellness in the Millburn School District. The public Health and Wellness forum held by the district this past February was extremely well attended, thereby demonstrating how important these issues are to many parents. Additionally the High School Liaison Committee has worked on several in depth proposals to address student wellness, thereby demonstrating the importance of these issues to many students.
Along these lines, we suggest the following:
1. Creation of a Public Advisory Committee to address Student Wellness in the District
Millburn Board of Education Policy 9140 states: “The success of the school system depends, to a large extent, on open channels of communication between the school community and the community at large. Public advisory committees are particularly useful in keeping the Board of Education and the administration informed with regard to community opinion and in representing the community in the study of specific school problems. The Board may establish public advisory committees as standing committees to serve in a liaison function between the local community and the schools, as permanent committees for funded programs as the law requires, and as the need arises”. Again, this need has been clearly demonstrated by the public at building PTO meetings, at Board of Education meetings, through wide support of various petitions, the primary focus of work done by the High School Liaison Committee and by the overwhelming attendance of the Health and Wellness forum held by the district this past February.
2. More frequent BOE Open Forums on different days / times:
Last year there was one open forum held at the public library in the afternoon in January designed solely to allow the public to have an open dialogue with members of the Board of Education. However this forum was sparsely attended. We believe that there should be 3-4 BOE Open Forums held during the school year on different days and times to encourage greater attendance. For example, there is generally greater attendance of meetings held during the school week in the mornings or in the early evening. When the BOE has an important issue to address with the public such as the recent referendum, they reach out to the public at multiple meetings on different days and times. Similarly to truly keep the lines of dialogue going from the public to the BOE, multiple Open Forum meetings on different days and times should be scheduled. In particular, based on the strong attendance of the first Health and Wellness forum, it would also be helpful to hold several “Health and Wellness” forums each year.
3. Restructure the rules and timing of the "public comments" period at one BOE meeting every month or two
Currently BOE meetings are held every two weeks and at each BOE Meeting there are two public comments periods. The meetings commence at 7:45 pm and generally run for about two hours. The first public comments period generally occurs at about 8:45 - 9:15 and the second period often takes place around 9:15-9:45.
It would be helpful if public comments were scheduled at the beginning of the agenda on occasion, at one meeting every month or two. This would encourage public participation during the public comments period. Additionally the public comments portion is not structured to facilitate an dialogue between members of the public and members of the BOE. Board policy restricts board members from engaging in dialogue during these public comments periods. We ask that the format of the public comments period be modified at one meeting every month or two to allow for actual dialogue.
4. Encourage Principals to hold "Open Forums" 3-4 times a year (especially Middle and High School) and to share specifics on how student wellness concerns will be addressed
These would be important opportunities for the Principals to share information and stay in touch with parental concerns. It would also be an opportunity for the Principals to explain exactly how student wellness concerns will be addressed.
5. Superintendent to share on a regular basis the details of the her vision and mission of the district and exactly how she is addressing student wellness concerns
It would be beneficial if the Superintendent shared details of her vision and mission of the district as a whole and for the the individual schools (particularly MMS and MHS) and specifically how this vision and mission will address current student wellness concerns on a regular basis, ideally two - three times a year.
Thank you for your consideration.
For more information, please see https://millburnstudentwellness.wordpress.com/
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