Those pesky minutes

"You asked for, “Names of school superintendent candidates from the minutes of public meeting held on May 27, 2014.’I have spoken to Ms. Asman, District Secretary for the McKenzie School District. Ms. Asman informed me that the draft minutes of the May 27th will be approved/formalized at the June board meeting, after which they will be released to the public. However, the information you seek is not in the draft minutes, as discussion of the candidates took place during executive session."
That was the response from Alex Gardner, Lane County District Attorney to my complaint about the McKenzie School District’s process for releasing information related to board meetings. I was at the executive session but dodn’t take notes during closed to the public meetings. Since what was voted on at that session wasn’t clear in my mind, I sent a request to the district for the names of the candidates. After waiting four days, I contacted the DA.
Although it’s not illegal for reporters to disclose what goes on behind closed doors, local units of government can choose to bar them from attending future meetings if they do. My problem was that the motion regarding the selection of candidates wasn’t clearly stated. It was the board’s consensus that it would  be written after the meeting.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t clear on what occured. The day after I posted my “Ridin’ the Rapids” blog about my request, two school board members emailed me the candidates names. I was grateful but again confused about the process of confidentiality when the school board meets in executive session.
Change, however, is in the air. Along with two new people now in the district’s top administrative positions, the board last week took some positive action. During another long Wednesday that included a budget hearing, a dedication ceremony and a regular board meeting, they also spent several hours taking boardsmanship training from the Oregon School Board’s Association.
Having been a member of the school board myself for several terms in the past, I know how valuable that training can be and am thankful to the directors for dedicating the time to invite the OSBA in.
Believe me, things look different when you’re sitting on the other side of the table. Sometimes a board member’s first tendency is to react to public input as being critical. A number of times people will show up with ideas they believe are without doubt the simplest solutions to complex problems. Other times members of the public just want to be involved. Let’s keep that last option open.


McKenzie River Reflections

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: Purchase copies online at: Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.