The Whitewater Schools now have an interim district administrator, and the district is looking to hire a permanent replacement. At the most recent school board meeting of 1.27.20, there was a brief discussion of community involvement in the selection process (see meeting video). The school board president and vice president (having each been on the board for several years) discussed focus groups for community opinion (43:50 on the linked video):
Board Vice President: I suspect we [referring to board members] can have input into who wants to be invited to those [referring to focus groups] or who we think…
Board President: They’ll be asking us, Matt and I talked, Jim was there, we have some ready-made groups, the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee, Whitewater Yes, the Whitewater Unites Lives, but we also want staff, BLT [building leadership team], parents groups, ultimately, I think, as many people as as we can get them to talk to is what our goal is.
Whitewater has struggled for years with a same-ten-person problem of low participation. Relying on ‘ready-made’ groups of the same ten people won’t solve that problem. Referring people the board members already known to focus groups won’t solve that problem. Listing parents after staff and building leaders won’t solve that problem. Saying all this in a desultory way won’t solve that problem.
Even those few groups that are newer, and so commendably bring in fresh perspectives, are only part of what Whitewater needs.
A consultant might prefer small groups, but Whitewater needs large groups of people able to speak without board members, administrators, staff, and the same local notables (who have presided of years of stagnation and relative decline) over-watching.
Saying what one ultimately wants isn’t the same as doing what one ultimately should.
Meetings should be well-publicized, in a large auditorium, with refreshments. If an open meeting fails to attract unaffiliated parents and residents, then another should be held. It will take years for Whitewater to re-engage with its public institutions, but one has to start somewhere.
Perhaps some men and women don’t realize how listless they seem. The worthy people of our past faced challenges by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work; they did not roll up the covers and take a nap.
Worse, by far: when ‘building leaders’ see somnambulism in their school board, they will mistakenly think that all the community is as undemanding.
Lack of energy at the top inspires only sloth and carelessness in others, and condescension toward the community.
For Whitewater, ready-made is poorly made.