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You should care about GUSD school board meetings

Beginning early February, the Tartan Shield has been creating biweekly palettable reports on school board meetings. Articles can be found in the News section of our website here. We hope these reports will inspire students involvement and public accountability present in these school board meetings.

As delineated by the California School Boards Association (CSBA), a school board is a small group of locally elected officials intended to govern their district’s public schools. They are typical members of the city–doctors, business owners, stay-at-home parents, and more–who require no professional or educational background in politics.

Their paramount concern is the needs of the community, which are addressed with solutions that align with the values, beliefs, and priorities of community members. A major CSBA-defined responsibility of the board is to govern through board meetings, a duty that involves hiring and evaluating the superintendent, adopting district policies, approving Local Control Accountability Plans (three-year plans completed by the board each year that define measurable goals and priorities), adopting and monitoring budgets, keeping an eye on student performance, and actively listening to public comments.

The Glendora Board of Education in particular maintains the continuous goals of career and college readiness for students, safe and respectful learning environments, consideration for all stakeholders (i.e. collaboration with students, staff, parents, and educational, business, and philanthropic partners), and efficient use of money and resources.

School board meetings themselves consist of a closed session in which only the board members discuss motions and an open session, consisting of public comments, a student report, superintendent report, and discussion of relevant agenda items.

In terms of community engagement, the position of board member does not require that the person attend all community and school-related events, although they are typically invited and try to attend as many as possible. Board member Monica Garcia testifies that “attending events is a great opportunity to interact with students and teachers and let them know we are here to support them.”

The board devotes additional time to participating in training and development.

But in between the hyper-structured agendas and official manner of these school board meetings, decisions that affect student lives are made.

Sitting President of GUSD’s school board Elizabeth Reuter says, “Budgetary items, such as an interim report, may seem boring, but it’s an update of where we are financially as a district. Maybe the Governor’s budget has come back and we will be receiving more money from the State and can consider a pay raise for employees or start a facility project, like the GHS swimming pool. We often have staff presentations on something important like an update to curriculum. For example, GUSD is about to start piloting several options of new curriculum for Next Generation Science Standards, which will impact all of our science classes, grades k-12.”

So how can students get involved? Make public comments.

Public comments are three-minute time slots where members from the community can make an uninterrupted comment addressed towards the board. While school board members are not structurally allowed to respond, these public comments are taken into the consideration of the school board members in local decision making, and can be discussed by the entire board.

Public comments are often made by prominent community members, such as local school-affiliated organizations, or parents representing their thoughts on contentious issues. What’s missing from this picture are students.

While older adults are more than entitled to make these comments about the future of their children’s education, students are arguably the most impacted by the school board’s decisions. Students spend a minimum of 6 hours a day at school (with athletes and performing arts students spending up to 10 hours a day) and should be in the room holding their public officials accountable.

Students live and breathe Glendora schools nearly every single day. It’s time to empower their voices in school board meetings.


School board members:

Gary Clifford (Vice President of the school board): I believe students should take an active role in their community as they prepare for graduation, including school board and city council. This helps develop civic pride and intellect, which could translate to volunteerism and careers in the future. Glendora depends on our youth and young adults to continue our mantra of “ pride of the foothills”.

Monica Garcia (Clerk of the school board): Students should take interest in what is discussed during the School Board meetings because the decisions being made and the conversations being had directly impact their education. In addition to that, our students’ voices are extremely valuable and at times their perspective is the missing link needed for the board and community to fully understand their needs.

Paul Lopez (board member): I believe students should be aware about what happens at Board meetings because it can directly affect them. Students need to know that it is important that board members hear the student voice. I, as a board member, am here to serve the students, staff and community of Glendora. Students should hear what we have to say so they are informed of what is happening districtwide. I hope this helps Crystal and it was good seeing you at the recognition last week!

Robin Merkeley (board member): The School Board sets the vision and goals for the school district, and the administration determines how to meet those goals. At each board meeting, the administration reports on the progress made. It’s important for students to attend board meetings so they’ll know the direction the board wants the school district to go. If students have different visions, they can tell the board during public comments or email us with their thoughts and ideas.


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