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Archive for the ‘Monitoring schools’ Category

Children attending the Boulder Valley School District are home on break now through Jan. 8. To help with this break, Superintendent Chris King gave families in his charge some helpful, family-friendly suggestions in his Dec. 24 message on the district’s Web site, http://www.bvsd.org.

There on the front page, King urged those with children in their lives to “find a perfect blend of quiet moments and laughter” and to consider tips from “The Scheduled Child,” an article by Ann Zander of the Colorado State University Extension. Zander’s ideas include setting aside family nights where all family members attend without exception, eating meals together three to five times a week and allowing children time for creative play. Zander’s entire article is provided on the Web site for the public’s convenience.

In addition to reading messages from the superintendent, BVSD parents today have other distinct communication advantages because of the district’s Web site. As one of the three parents responding for this column, Becky Ruth of Louisville said she goes to the district’s Web site for information about lunches and grades for her children in elementary and middle schools.

John Schroeder of Lafayette said he’d not gone to the site before but thought his wife had. Schroeder’s wife, Helen Schroeder, said she had been to the site two or three years ago to read “one of the newer policies about sexual orientation.” She said she wanted to be sure the topic would be discussed in sex-education classes. She also followed the discussions by watching school board meetings on TV
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Prior to 1999, approximately, district policies were only on paper in fat, three-ring binders that administrators, the school board and the superintendent possessed. Obtaining a copy of a policy meant asking for it or being given permission to peruse binders for topics of interest before obtaining a copy.

Now that all policies are available on-line anytime, parents should take advantage of this to review them. Of particular interest are those governing instruction. At present, BVSD teachers have full reign to ask students by assignment whatever they wish about their personal lives. While some teachers wouldn’t think to delve deeply, others do. A clear policy could define the boundaries. In spite of that fact, John Schroeder said he’s never seen anything cross the line.

However, there is no agreed-upon line. A good place to start that discussion would be to ask district personnel what is private to them.

“Privacy is a very good issue to be looking at now days, how far it should go,” Helen Schroeder said. “It might prevent something larger from happening or make a positive statement, save face for children. They don’t have to ask the difficult questions for homework.”

As I see it, questions can be “difficult” because they are invasive.
For Ruth, student privacy brings to her mind a separate issue, whether school authorities can check student lockers for guns or drugs. She added, she thought it unbelievable teachers would ask students about divorce or adoption.

The issue of district personnel searching students’ cell phones adds another dimension to the privacy issue. The school board would do well to take a stand on the issue in policy soon in response questions raised in the last election.

In spite of the communication options on the district’s Web site, one glaring white-out of information exists. The site has no information so the public can contact school board members directly, unfettered by the district. All contacts information leads to either the district’s phone system or through district e-mail accounts. That leaves questions about whether the district has access to those communications or whether they are subject to open records requests.

In contrast, the University of Colorado’s Web site lists CU regents’ home addresses or personal mailboxes and phone numbers. Pictures and more information about each regent are also posted. However, e-mail still goes through school accounts.

School board members needs to make crucial, family-friendly decisions to protect student privacy while divulging more direct contact information to aid in communication. Finally, to further improve information flow among all district communities, the school board needs to get back to providing school board meetings live throughout the district.

Currently, school board meetings held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. are only seen in Broomfield tape-delayed on Saturdays at 8 p.m. What a terrible time! The rest of the district receives live coverage first, then rebroadcasts on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 2 p.m.

It’s no wonder Broomfield often feels slighted by the BVSD.

Shirley Scoville received recognition from the Boulder Valley School Board in June 1997 for pioneering school board meetings on cable, which she did for nearly three and a half years.


Source: Published Dec. 30, 2007 Daily Camera


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