Open letter to future Douglas County boards of education

Posted

We, the undersigned, are former members of the Douglas County Board of Education (DCBOE), and we are concerned about current practices of the DCBOE. 

The reputation of the Douglas County School District as a premier district for students to learn, teachers to teach, staff to work, and for parental and community involvement has deteriorated significantly during the current Board’s tenure.  Further, the district has lost its Accreditation with Distinction which past boards worked hard to achieve.

The legacy of Douglas County Boards of Education includes a record of “Best Practices” that, if implemented by future boards of education, would restore the reputation of the Douglas County School District.  Those practices include:

  1. Nonpartisan elections, policies and actions. The DCSD serves all families, and board members have a fiduciary responsibility to abstain from partisan agendas by always putting the interests of children first.
  2. Open, collaborative, consensus building discussions among board members that respect the concerns of all parents, staff and the general public.
  3. A limited number of, and time spent in, executive sessions in accordance with the letter and spirit of laws governing public entities.
  4. Published governance practices that are clear, transparent and consistently adhered to.
  5. Budget guidelines, processes and reports that: 1) invest first in classrooms, 2) are transparent and, 3) begin with parental participation at the school level.   
  6. Maintaining positive, collaborative and consensus building relationships with all employees and their chosen representatives, especially when there is disagreement.
  7. Providing choice within public schools including, but not limited to, open enrollment and charter schools.
  8. District and school committee membership that is nonpartisan, independent from the BOE and reflects a cross section of county residents including, but not limited to, parents, non-parents and district employees.
  9. Maximizing learning opportunities through evidence and outcome-based educational policies as measured by, but not limited to:
  • Grade (and subject) appropriate class size
  • Time spent in school on task
  • High school graduation requirements
  • Instructional time per credit hour in high schools
  • Electives and extracurricular activities

We encourage voters in the current Douglas County School Board election to vote for candidates who will follow these “Best Practices” and restore the reputation of the Douglas County School District and its Accreditation with Distinction.

Signed (representing 90 years of DCBOE public service):

Herman Anderson, May 1973 to May 1981;      

Ken Buckius, June 1990 to Nov. 2003;

Bill Callahan, May 1977 to May 1985;

Bob Clearwater, May 1985 to May 1993;

Sue Fink, May 1987 to Jan. 1990; Jan. 1991 to May 1991; Sept. 2003 to Nov. 2003;

Emily Hansen, Nov. 2005 to Nov. 2009;

Pieter Kallemeyn, May 1977 to Nov. 1993;

Jacqueline Killian, Nov. 1997 to Nov. 2005;

Clare Leonard, Nov. 1987 to May 1990;

Robert Moore, April 1999 to Oct. 1999;

Sandra Panetta, Nov. 2003 to Oct. 2006;

Gail Schoettler, May 1979 to May 1987;

Kathie Zahorik, May 1975 to May 1979