Ruling by committee

Wanna talk safety? How about academics? Facilities? Finances? Ethics?

You name it, there’s a new committee for it. Under state control, the Oakland school board went years without being able to cast a vote that counted or delve into critical issues with district staffers. Now, the elected officials appear to be in the midst of a governing frenzy — and who can blame them?

Allow me to enumerate the meetings of this past week, which included two double-headers and a near triple-header:

Monday – Teaching and Learning. Finance and Human Resources.
Tuesday – Rules and Ethics. Facilities. Safety (canceled).
Wednesday – Intergovernmental relations.

Alice Spearman, the new board president, seemed energized by the frenetic meeting schedule when I saw her this week.

“We were able to sit down and actually talk to staff,” she said. “This is where we can really get into the meat of the issues and have open dialogue with staff and the community.”

She added: “They need to come.”

If you are passionate about a particular subject, your time might be better spent at a short committee meeting than at a marathon session of the full board. It could be a more effective lobbying strategy, too, since these three-member committees make recommendations that the full board (and possibly, the state administrator, who still has the final say on academic and fiscal policy) is likely to accept.

Many of the meetings will be held on the first week of the month. Some committees meet twice monthly. Dates and times will be posted here, along with meeting agendas. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Good for them. We may not all agree on whatever policy the elected board makes, but it’s really important for them to get into the job and make their positions clear.