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District 308 Board Member 'Not Happy' with Community Forum Notice

Sep 29, 2015 08:28PM ● Published by Steven Jack

District 308 Superintendent addresses communication issues surrounding a Monday night open community forum.

Members of the District 308 School Board say communication surrounding their first open community forum Monday night fell short of reaching many parents.

Just a handful of parents addressed the board at the forum, which took place at Traughber Junior High following a 2015 district budget hearing. According to board members and parents, the district didn’t do enough to advertise the forum beyond a posting on the district’s online calendar and mentions at recent board meetings.  

“I’m not happy about the communication of this. I hope I made that clear tonight.” said Board Member Jared Ploger who campaigned last spring on the idea of holding regular open forums. “Going forward we’re just going to have to do better. Listen, everyone knew we didn’t have school last Friday. I’d say we start with how we handled that communication and go from there.”

One parent who did attend the forum said she found out about it just a few hours before on social media.

“I feel like this is something that the district could have used a ConnectEd call or email to say there’s going to be a Q&A session at a board meeting, so that people can come and get that immediate feedback,” said Dawn Krapez. “... It kind of makes people think do you really want our feedback because you didn’t make it public knowledge.”

Board President Matt Bauman responded that the lack of communication was in no way an attempt to minimize parent input, saying board members value community feedback and future public notice will be better.

Superintendent Matthew Wendt acknowledged a lack of communication regarding the forum, but said striking the right balance of how many messages parents receive is something the district struggles with as part of its “growing up.”

“When I moved here communication was ranked on a survey as one of the top three problems in the school district. … We’ve come a long way; we’re just not where we want to be,” Wendt said. “… There was a time when people went to the website to get information. Today we don’t want to go get information we want it sent to us, and that’s a change that I think as a district we need to discuss and we should discuss.”

Board member Brad Banks said the district will need to do a better job at advertising future public forums by utilizing different methods that reach more parents.

“We want to make this better and get more participation,” he said. “We saw some of the communication late tonight on Facebook. We’ll do a better job utilizing other outlets so we can get more participation during these discussions, because these give us better feedback from the parent view and the community view.”

As for when that next forum might be, Ploger said he hopes it's sooner rather than later. 

“I hope this is just the start of this, and we’ll see a lot more people out here next time,” he said.

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