By Sally Absher

One of the features of BOE meetings is public forum – when any citizen can come and speak for up to 5 minutes about issues that concern them. Every once in a while, a speaker is so articulate, so concise, and so timely, that everyone in the audience is speechless.

Such was the case when Becky Walker spoke to the BOE during public forum on Sept. 3. Here  are the high points:

“You spent a large amount of time tonight talking about the strategic plan. However, myself, teachers, other parents, the community, are all wondering why? Your strategic plan is only a vision, it is only a high-level capture of what you plan to do going forward.

This plan contains no meat… no facts… no details. You like to throw out your “accomplishments” in the meetings you have with the community. What I find interesting is you always like to refer to the increased graduation rates, but you never put data behind it.

Kids have to graduate. Otherwise they get restricted drivers licenses. How much did that contribute?

You used our keywords from all of our feedback sessions:  bussing, school improvements, teacher satisfaction, balanced calendar… You used all the key words, yet we’re still in the dark.

I’m an operational manager. My job is strategic planning for an international company. Strategic planning is only your vision. We’re looking for the details…When are you going to discuss it with the community?

These are not the forums for those discussions. These are your business meetings, and that’s understandable. However, one year of coming out to find out what key words to include in your strategic plan, are not our voice, and they are not our vision.

After spending multiple hours digging through your data, what I find is that you’ve come up with budgets for the next five years.

Adrianne Burnett Elementary improvements were included in the capital improvement plan suggested in 2012, yet you have it in the budget for 2018, after two middle school builds.

I’m all for the middle school builds, but why are we delaying Adrianne Burnett another six years from the 2012 goal, when we’ve not even completed the studies for the middle schools?

We don’t even know what the recommendations are going to be… When are they going to be done? How are you going to evaluate the results?

You have technology and security in the budget. Parents at my school… want to know why we don’t do background checks on chaperones before they’re with our kids on field trips? It costs too much money, yet we’re willing to spend a large chunk of our budget on putting video surveillance systems in our school.

Technology – did  we get the grant? What is the grant going to do? What is the ratio going to be, and how do you plan on doing the software upgrades that are required for all that technology?

We can’t even get a standard where our schools publish their websites with like data. Some parents get more information, some parents get none.

TCAP. You promised us communications when the TCAP scores didn’t make it out. Communications never came. I called for three months to get my children’s before I finally found someone to give them to me.

Some of this information may be delivered though these sessions but you’re not communicating with us. You’re not communicating with the teachers. You’re not communicating with the community… Give us the details before you come here to make your decision. You want us to support you? We need transparency.

There was an interesting conversation on the radio about the Law Director and his opinion regarding implied or not implied gag orders regarding members of this board. I would like to remind each of you that your first responsibility is to the community, not to the superintendent, nor to anyone else. We elected you… We expect full disclosure.

As far as the retreat…I hope this year, it’s not at the Blackberry Lodge, seeing as we’re reducing janitorial and other staffs, and there are plenty of other options for you to go and convene amongst yourselves.

We’d like to see the plan. Thank you.”

(View the entire speech here: