Todd Dorman’s Jan. 4 column “C.R. board should be leading” mischaracterizes the work of the Cedar Rapids school board in leading the district’s facility master planning process. Just as democracy is defined as government by the people, good governance on a major policy or planning decision should include the elements of board leadership shown by the Cedar Rapids school board.
The board showed leadership in establishing a community-led facility planning process in August 2016. The board set the expectation that a wide range of stakeholders would be involved through the committee process, so that parents, educators, students and community leaders have a direct role and voice in studying the issues and weighing options.
The process approved by the board includes multiple public input sessions so the full range of residents can provide additional input.
The board has stayed fully engaged, receiving regular reports and providing guidance at public board meetings.
I agree with Dorman that board members are elected to chart a course. A process that engages the community in charting that course increases public investment and ownership. It expands the knowledge base of the board with additional expertise and perspectives. The board accepts full accountability for the final decision as the elected policy-making body. Rather than characterizing this process as “outsourcing” the decision, I would describe it as enhancing the quality of the decision and the scope of community ownership.
Iowa Association of School Boards