After a whirlwind of allegations of impropriety and shady dealings, the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees believes it will have to work to regain the community’s confidence.
Two of the areas the board has tackled is transparency and accountability.
Since the November election cycle ousted nearly half of the board, a new attitude has emerged and new agenda items have been presented for consideration regarding meeting accessibility and live recordings in the last three board meetings.
Parents, teachers, faculty, and other members of the community have previously voiced their concerns over the board’s lack of consistent practices when it comes to sharing recordings of the meetings. These concerns raise questions about accessibility and how SUSD accommodates stakeholders who might not have the opportunity to attend board meetings in person.
Some board members addressed these concerns before being sworn in two months ago. Board president AngelAnn Flores, in her second term representing Area 2, told Stocktonia the main goals of the board is to be student centered, transparent and accountable.” Area 7 representative and board vice president Kennetha Stevens concurred with Flores’ statement.
“I think all of us new board members have a big job ahead of us,” Stevens said several days before being sworn in. “It’s about accountability, transparency and relationships.”
Many parents work long hours, and there is still a portion of the population who avoid in-person gatherings to mitigate their exposure to COVID-19. Community member Paola Enriquez took to public comments during a Feb. 14 meeting to voice her concerns about the board’s inability to provide its constituents with reliable access to these meetings.
“I encourage the district to implement live streaming. The public should not have to turn to Stocktonia or SUSD to get access to the meetings in real-time when they can’t attend in person, you should provide that service yourself,” Enriquez said to the board.
Later in the meeting, Avtar S. Gill, Director of Technology Information Services for SUSD presented the board with information about how exactly they could implement a live-streaming service.
“We need those directives, and then we can build the technology,” said Gill.
As it stands, any video recordings of board meetings only showcase board members in a static shot. Community members in the audience or those who choose to step up to the podium for public comments are not showcased at all.
Following these public comments and Gill’s presentation, the board voted on Feb. 28 to live-stream all future board meetings.
“We invite members of the community to attend meetings which now begin at 4:00 p.m.” says Melinda Meza, Stockton Unified School District’s Director of Communications and Media Relations.
A backlog of meetings from the 2022 school year has now been uploaded to SUSD’s YouTube channel over the span of the last three weeks.
However, most meeting videos from before the 2022-2023 school year remain unlisted and unsearchable via YouTube.
Parents and community members are instead forced to toggle between several pages to find links to individual meeting videos on Stockton Unified’s website.
While the board is certainly making moves to create more accessibility for parents who can’t make it to the in-person meetings, attending them is still highly recommended, says Interim Superintendent Dr. Traci E. Miller.
“We encourage parents, students and community to attend and join the board of education meetings as we keep student learning and achievement at the forefront,” says Dr. Miller.