The Marysville School District plans to create advisory groups to provide feedback on important policy changes beginning in the next few months.
The first steps toward this plan were discussed during the June 21 school board meeting.
“Public input creates more inclusive and cohesive communities,” said Zac Robbins, Marysville School District superintendent. “It also contributes to better decisions because decision-makers can get more information on public sentiment and a diversity of ideas that they can use to make decisions in the best interest of all children."
The process is still in the early stages of planning so not all details are known.
Officials expect that the groups will be similar to advisory committees composed of students, staff and parents who want to include their voice on specific new policies.
“This process will not be invoked for every policy, but when the board or the district believes it is essential to give public feedback and public participation over and above public comment and meetings,” said Robbins.
In recent months, public comment on policies such as the district’s proposed parental consent policy have been limited to one hour due to the high number of speakers that have signed up to talk.
The new feedback process is meant to allow more time and for people to fully talk through the practical matters of adopting new policies.
“For example it could help us understand the personal, emotional and legal implications of parental consent before moving along in the policy adoption process,” said Robbins. “I cite the matter only as an example of the importance and benefit of additional structures to get timely, diverse, inclusive and useful feedback from the greater community beyond public comment."
The amount of time the advisory groups will discuss potential policies will likely not be set in stone.
Robbins said it will likely depend on the specific policy and how much community members want to speak on those issues.
“I agree with it being a subjective timeline. There have been various topics over the recent months where we’ve had to align our schedules, which is not that easy, and align our schedules with legal counsel, which is not that easy,” said school board member Wade Rinehardt.
The advisory groups will likely meet in-person and be of selected representatives from the community.
“It will be open for people to ask to be a part of that selected group,” said Robbins.
School board president Paul Galovin said the goal of the group should be to include a diversity of perspectives.
“We want to hear from a variety, not just from a sole source,” he said. Those that want to be a part of that process should simply ask school officials how to get involved in that, he said.
Robbins said that students will be included when they can be in the process.
“Students clearly have things they want to say and they clearly have interests,” he said. “When possible and when appropriate, and that’s most times frankly, students will be involved in the process.”
The new feedback process would also be meant to more adequately cover the community’s concerns about potential school policies.
“Our goal is to be efficient because we want to be respectful of everyone’s time, but it will come down to the individual policy,” said Robbins.
The new process could be ready to begin this fall, said Robbins. He said that the team working on the process is aiming for it to be ready in August, but added he didn’t want to make a commitment if they need to take longer.
“We recognize a need for this … but I want to be transparent by saying we are the beginning stages,” said Robbins.