Updated: Mar 31
Transparency refers to how well the Board maintains open and honest lines of communication with the community and keeps them informed of decisions that are made. Building trust and transparency should be a key objective of the district. I think we all agree that the CISD needs to rebuild trust with our community. So much of what has happened over the year is because our administration has not been open with the community and our trust has been broken.
We all know that mistakes happen, and when they do there should be honest accountability and an opportunity for process improvement. We cannot improve as a district to provide better services for our children unless we first recognize these opportunities. Unfortunately, “protect the tradition” has been taken too far, we need to accept that we need to GROW our tradition, this includes understanding that we have room to improve. The first steps in this process are honesty and accountability.
When an organization faces challenges, instinct is often to stay quiet to protect its reputation. Transparency, however, can send a positive message amid challenges. First, it demonstrates ownership and acknowledgment of the situation. Great leadership recognizes the elephant in the room and addresses it head-on. Transparency indicates a command of the situation and provides an opportunity to say “we acknowledge what is happening and we are looking into it, we will make this right”. It also keeps stakeholders (the community) informed and involved. When change or challenges impact our district the community wants to know what is going on so they can understand how it will impact their children and their families.
We have learned over the past year that the truth always comes out and it is better to be proactive than reactive as a district.
Strategy development and planning are essential for achieving transparency. Some IDEAS to IMPROVE TRANSPARENCY and rebuild trust include:
The Dragon Blast should focus not on "Rainbows and Unicorns" but should be a tool to involve stakeholders, so our community remains involved and informed.
Leverage technology to increase interactions with the community including surveys and evaluations and this should include a cybersecurity evaluation and a review of email addresses being used by the board.
Regular public forums: we have no meaningful way to communicate or interact with our School Board. Two-minute public comments, the only current method to interact with the Board, have fueled the divisiveness in our community. We need to go beyond forums, the Board needs to ACT on the input of the community.
Adopting best practices for the Board to ensure that all members are boosting public transparency.
Improving Governance. Considering where we are we need to get back to the basics, following open meetings act laws, minimizing “behind closed doors” discussion, and evaluating digital tools to increase public engagement which may include leveraging online surveys and evaluations.
FOIA. We are spending so much money on FOIA requests! We should be providing more documents to the public. We already post our checks on the public website, posting contracts and bills would increase transparency, rebuild trust, and likely decrease FOIA requests. Also, we could evaluate posting FOIA requests that are deemed in the “public good” on our website to decrease duplicate requests.