By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School District now has an online forum to address the questions of community members.
The forum is accessible through the school’s website, plattscsd.org, and allows people to email district-related questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The district will then post the questions, along with answers, to the public forum.
NO DIRECT POSTS
Plattsburgh City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short said the school has not added any new staff to run the project but will try to keep up with responding to incoming inquiries as best it can.
Community members are being asked to email their questions and comments to the district rather than being allowed to post them directly to the forum, so the district can monitor the comments for appropriateness and avoid duplicate questions.
“If we have multiple questions that are similar, we thought it might be easier for people to read if we bundle them together,” Short said.
While waiting for the community’s emailed inquiries to come in, the district posted two frequently asked questions and their respective answers to the forum to get it started.
These questions are “When does the Board of Education meet? and “When is the annual budget and election?”
Short said the concept of an online question-and-answer venue is new to the district, but the school is giving it a try in an effort to expand its dialogue with the community.
The need for more open communication with district residents has been the topic of multiple School Board meetings in recent months, as members of the community have voiced concerns at board meetings about their school-related questions going unanswered.
Members of the public often come to meetings with inquiries, which they voice during public-comment sessions; however, Short has stated in the past that the meetings are for business of the board and are not a time for board members to converse with the public.
This fall, the board considered hosting a public event at which board members could address the questions and concerns of the community in person. The district hosted a similar event in January during which the public was asked for input on the school’s 2012-13 budget considerations.
After consulting members of SUNY Plattsburgh’s Department of Communication Studies, however, the board decided that an online discussion forum might be a better solution, as it would be ongoing and allow individuals to participate from the comfort of their own homes.
At a recent School Board meeting, district resident Walter Chmura told the board that he would like to see more public discussion and input from students when it comes to the goals the district sets forth for itself each year.
“I would like to see input from students, community influencing those goals, and I’d like to know what they are,” he said.
“And of course, I’d like to see if we’re meeting those goals for the best of everybody.”
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