This WPSD board is delivering on what they campaigned for:
- Cancel the District’s mask mandate
- Resolve numerous issues raised with Summit Learning Platform, including possibly removing the program altogether (currently assigned to Superintendent)
- Giving parents a choice and reversing the controversial denial of Merit Academy’s previous board
- Support a historic increase for district staff, and
- Improve district transparency by ensuring parents are informed of the class schedule
All of these things have been completed or are in progress, as promised and for which they were elected. These accomplishments fall squarely within the powers and responsibilities of the Board of Directors, as set forth in Colorado’s statutes.
However, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the governance of school boards. The directors of the council are charged by the state with powers, duties and responsibilities for the supervision of the district. The list of powers and duties listed in the statutes is long. Overall, governance is the adoption of policies that also reflect the vision of the board of directors, on the basis of which they were elected. Administrative policies not only state the council’s vision and their statement of district purpose, but also adhere to state law.
According to the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), “political governance is a system of interrelated principles that uses policies to express the values and perspectives of the board in all areas.” Policies are the roadmap by which the council chooses to run the district.
It seems that the general community is questioning policy versus law. Policies, unless required by law, are not laws, but they must not conflict with the law. They can be changed.
In fact, a CASB representative gave a presentation to a former WPSD board (of which I was a member) and indicated that the new boards were planning a retreat to review the previous board’s policies and modify, adopt, add or remove these policies to coincide with the new Board of Directors’ Statement of Intent and Vision.
If there is a conflict between the policies and the vision of the new board, then the policies must change. If there is a difference of opinion or desired policy among the members of the council, the majority prevails and, therefore, it is the only voice of the council.
It seems that this newly elected council was not advised of this wise practice of reviewing/modifying policies. Policy review and adjustment is lagging behind. It is common for individual board members, or a pair of board members, to write (or modify) policies and bring them back to the full board for discussion, changes, and adoption or rejection. This is essential for the health of district governance.
Boards across the state either have a superintendent (most common) or they have several senior staff who report directly to the board, or the board fills out much of the detail itself (not advised). Again, this operational decision falls within the powers and duties of the Commission. The board should work together to ensure that policies (new/modified/current) reflect the level of governance the board wishes to implement.
There seems to be some dissonance between the new board and the policies of the previous board. As the CASB has advised in the past, the board does not change its vision or final statement to match the policy, the policies change to match the board’s vision, for which they were elected.
The folks at “Never-This-Board” are working on a recall of newly elected board members, using non-compliance with policies as the reason. In fact, the county clerk’s office was called ONE WEEK after the newly elected council members took office, asking how to begin a recall of these new council members.
I support the Council on the basis of promises made, promises kept. The environment they worked with was hostile. They acted on the advice they received from experienced administrators and others, which in hindsight seems questionable. Agenda was reviewed, but historically meeting agendas have been written by the (new) board chair and (seasoned) superintendent, not the full board. It appears that the new board members were not advised by their senior board member or superintendent, as they should have been, to review/amend the policies to match the vision for which they have campaigned and for which they were elected.
Change policies. Keep his promises. Support, not recall, this Council.
Dr. Gwynne Pekron
Resident of Woodland Park