Debbie Bookstaber: December 2008 School Board Update

Happy New Year!

At our December Meeting, the School Board elected Betsy Fadem as President and Jim Bruce as Vice-President. The December Meeting was a short one since December is traditionally the reorganization meeting. You can read the December School Board Action Line at:

The Finance, Facilities and Education Committees did not meet in December due to the holidays. You can read the December School Board Committee Minutes for Public Information and Policy online at:

The Board had its annual Legislative Breakfast. Representatives Duane Milne and Paul Drucker attended as did Senators Andy Dinniman and Ted Erickson. This informal social event gave board members and administrators the chance to meet our local legislators. The School District's Strategic Plan has a section on legislative advocacy. The aim of the plan is to ensure that the impact of unfunded mandates on district curriculum and resources is minimized.

If you can, please take the time to watch the current Board Talk about the District's Green Initiatives to learn how the District is both saving money and helping the environment.

I attended an all-day district technology committee meeting to review uses of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom. (There will be an upcoming Board Talk about technology if you're interested in learning more.) As someone who has spent her career working in technology, I was impressed by the creative ways technology had been integrated into the classroom to enhance the learning experience.

For example, one teacher designed an impressive Google Earth presentation to help students understand the geography of The Great Gatsby. (In case you aren't familiar with it, Google Earth is a free tool.) I'd read and loved The Great Gatsby in high school, but this was the first time I really understood the importance of East Egg, West Egg, Long Island Sound and all the places mentioned.

The Diversity Committee reviewed the recruitment and hiring report and discussed district efforts to attract and retain teachers. We also discussed the district's 6th and 7th grade English and Social Studies curriculum. There is a cross-curricular unit themed around tolerance and courage.

One interesting thing: Several community members have approached me to ask me how many hours are involved in serving on the board since they were considering running for school board.
You can see minutes and agendas for the monthly standing committee meetings and the regular full board meeting, but the public often isn't aware of how many hours are spent in executive session (discussing personnel matters and land acquisition), reading board updates (big packets of information), and attending other District meetings such as Diversity, the CCIU, Legislative, Middle School Advisory, Technology, ISC, Safety, Sidewalks, and more. Despite all the work, I would encourage people who care about the schools and who have time to volunteer to run.
Photo Update: Can't resist sharing my holiday pics