Note from Catherine: I know that a number of blog readers have questions about the use of money in our schools, and thus I decided to ask Alison Donta, who is the Chair of the Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee, for an update on the progress of that group (which has been meeting quite frequently for several months). I am posting her email to me, with her permission below. There is also an article in today's Bulletin on the work of this group, which I will post when it appears on-line.
You asked me for an update on the status of the Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee so I wanted to bring you up-to-date. As you know, our committee posed three rounds of questions regarding the school budget situation in late January and early February. These questions, along with our meeting agendas and minutes, can be found at: http://www.arps.org/budget#cbac
Dr. Rodriguez committed to providing answers by March 1st. Answers to most of the questions from Round 1 we received by mid February. We have reviewed those answers and come up with a number of follow questions and clarifications to be discussed with ARPS staff. By March 1st, we did receive answers to most of the rest of our questions. Our committee is meeting on March 5th from 5-7PM to review those answers and to formulate additional followup questions and clarifications. We are meeting with the ARPS staff on Thursday, March 11th from 2-5PM to discuss the answers and our followup questions. We will then add this additional information to the answers we currently have and, in some cases, rework entire answers so they are more accessible to the public.
We plan to submit the following on March 15th for posting on the web site above:
--the verbatim answers from the ARPS staff
--supporting documents supplied by ARPS staff
--reworked/clarified/more complete answers for each question, section by section
Our goal has always been to have available to the public a coherent sent of answers one week before the March 23rd election. We felt this was important since the public is being asked to vote for or against an override and to choose two School Committee members. Unfortunately, due to some delays in response and scheduling a meeting with ARPS staff, we might be unable to completely provide clear and coherent answers to all the questions by then. But, at the very least, the public will be able to see the verbatim answers from ARPS staff on-line by March 15th.
Once we have had a chance to digest the answers to our original answers and to our followup questions, the Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee plans to issue a series of summary points/recommendations in line with our charge of providing the School Committee with ideas on how to improve communication with the public. We will submit these directly to the School Committee and post them on our web site.
If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Alison Donta-Venman, Chair, Citizens' Budget Advisory Committee
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.