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Jan. 10, 2013

At tonight's school board meeting, Supt. Heath Morrison announced an online tool to allow parents and others to share ideas with the task forces named to help design the district's strategic goals. The online tool is here.

Using the tool, messages may be sent to any one of the 22 task forces, which are listed in a drop-down menu on the web page. The web page says it will accept up to 1,500 characters. It counts spaces as characters.

I've sent every task force the following message:

    

At your first meeting, please establish that all future meetings of your task force will be open to the public and that the public will be notified of your meeting times and places in accordance with CMS policy.

To bring the disparate interests associated with CMS together, we as a community must air issues thoroughly, allow fact-finding and vigorous debate, and then build consensus around what may well be a compromise position that honors the complexity and diversity of this district and its people.

Your modeling of behaviors like transparency, candor and openness will help the community move away from its confrontationalism, and contribute to an environment in which the superintendent’s ultimate recommendations can gain a foothold.

Indeed, Heath Morrison probably doesn’t need your ideas; he already has lots of those. What he does need is a way to move community members away from apathy or obstructionism or me-first-ism. Your task force can contribute to that by carefully airing in public all sorts of proposals related to your topic and then gauging public response.

Most citizens with a vital interest in your discussion will never attend your meetings, of course. And neither CMS nor media has the resources to “cover” every task force. So it is imperative that you find new ways to share your deliberations with the public. Be imaginative. Call on your friends to get the word out.

    

This is just one of many websites that one or more task forces could use without cost to share information about its proceedings. And there are lots of offline methods of sharing information. I hope each task force will find a suitable tool.