The Hope of Transparency and Accountability
By Scottie Smith
I would like to share my impressions about the June 15th, 2016 WCCUSD School Board meeting, where I sat watching, feeling too old and tired, thinking, “Why should I care anymore about speaking up? My kids and grandkids are out of here.” Still, it was great to see the new Superintendent, Mr. Duffy, and his family at the meeting. As I watched, I begin to feel a tiny bit better when someone stood up and spoke about the district mailers that have been flooding our homes, their cost and implications. Also, it was good to hear from young parents speaking about the LCAP and the need for more clarity around allocations, assessments and outcomes. Furthermore, I had a sense of believing that maybe the whole Board was finally listening when the discussion around consent calendar expenditures came up. That’s when I started to really get my second wind.
Many of us have read and watched for many years as the consent calendar’s allocations were routinely passed and not one question would come up about assessments, outcomes, or real cost. Something happened that night, where the Board members heard each other and opted to question the expenditures. They did not get clarity on all expenditures, but raised the level of discussion whereby things cannot be hidden or go unaccountable. In times long ago, no more than $50,000 could be approved on the consent calendar, but as some of us know, that amount has not been adhered to and has been somewhat abused without Board approval.
If the Board wants the community support, they must show that they are being watchful stewards of all monies and programs. Sending out many flyers will not help. But their leadership and discussions throughout the year, and maybe an annual flyer or letter about the District’s direction and its areas of need for support from the communities, will begin the process of healing which is so needed.
The District can no longer survive without checks and balances in all areas that impact our students and teachers. Our leadership must show clarity of purpose in the education of our students – and with that will come community support.
Scottie Smith is a longtime community leader and education advocate. She serves as the Vice President of the BlackBoard of West Contra Costa.