Tuesday, July 15, 2008

RSD This and That

I meant to post this last week but things got hectic over here.

I went to last Thursday night's briefing on the state of the facilities master plan and the millage renewal campaign. I've previously reported on the use of mixed messaging that ties millage renewal to approval of the master plan but this event appropriately separated the briefings.

Did you know that the meeting I attended at the Dryades YMCA was the last public presentation of the status of the facilities master plan before it will be put to a binding vote?

I didn't.

The briefing room at the Y had about 50 people in it. I would say that 30 or so of the people in the room were employees of Concordia/Parsons, the RSD, or the OPSB. There were very few actual community stakeholders present.

I noticed this right away and took out the day's T-P to see if Concordia people had notified the public of the meeting. They had not. When I inquired about this I was told that over 5,000 emails had been sent out. When I pressed - email isn't exactly the premier way of reaching public school parents in New Orleans - I was told that my point was well taken.

The whole exercise was ridiculous. One official bemoaned citizen apathy as the reason for low turnout but when I asked whether or not fliers had ever been mailed to RSD parents or given to students to bring home for this meeting or any other throughout the so-called citizen participation process, I was told that packages had been dropped off at schools but that "it helps to have good principals."

I asked representatives of Concordia to commit to holding another properly advertised briefing before the master plan goes before the bodies expected to vote on it but was rebuffed.

From my view, once the master plan is finalized and prepared for a vote, the political pressure on officials to approve will be immense. Though the vote will be open with the opportunity for public comment, it will be extremely difficult to send planners back to the drawing board when new school facilities are so badly needed, regardless of informed dissatisfaction.

At the public's last briefing on the planning document that will inform the future capacity of the New Orleans public school system there were no cameras, there were no reporters, there was no public.

Things have gotten very hectic over here but I have been mulling a long view piece on the facilities planning process for which I hope people will patiently stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

they have to get the OPSB to sign on too...

E said...

Which is why the OPSB elections are so important... They're definitely going to hammer this through with the sitting members though. Why do you think a lot of these cats aren't running for reelection?

Amelia said...

WhAT?!?!?!?!?! Final presentation before a binding vote!?!?!?!?!?! It was presented as merely a STATUS UPDATE - if ever there was a time for a restraining order, this is it.

e, i couldn't make the meetings and have been scouring for a report. yours is the only one. I heard from an attendee that it was just an update.

i am sick to my stomach.

E said...

Status report, last public briefing prior to vote, whats the difference? It's just semantics. Nothing weird at all!

E said...

In many ways it is "just an update" because the "citizen participation process" concluded months ago and the final plan is being drafted by Parsons/Concordia technocrats. It's not as if they've suddenly ripped the opportunity to have input out from under us - they already sent a draft that Pastorek rejected without letting any of us see.

But if you weren't the recipient of one of 5000 golden ticket emails......

Matthew said...

i went to the Friday morning session at the YMCA that was designed for teachers and admins. I stayed long enough to hear Pastorek speak and confirm that they are going to have a 30 day public review period after the draft plan has already been completed. The draft plan will come out in August and the final draft in September. Will write something more coherent up on neworleans.indymedia.org soon.
E -- we should do a pamphlet on RSD/Vallas.