Royal Palm Beach’s Education Advisory Board held its first meeting of the 2017-18 school year Monday, Aug. 14, addressing its agenda and meeting schedule for the upcoming year.
This year’s advisory board includes Chair Kevin Abel, Vice Chair Lynn Balch, Klemie Christie, David Kendle, Renatta Espinoza and alternate Eric Gordon. Councilman Jeff Hmara serves as the board’s liaison.
The board considered new ways to get schools and families more involved in education issues.
“If we could get our agendas ahead of time, then we could drop them off at the schools,” Christie suggested. “But usually we don’t get them until that week ourselves.”
Gordon asked about adding more information on social media pages and sharing information that way, but all of the information is published on the village’s web site. It was not agreed that social media would be a platform likely to be used for that purpose.
“I don’t see the general population coming, and these are great topics,” Gordon said. “Has the board ever done anything to get more out of it?”
Both Christie and Kendle said they believe that many people watch the meetings that are broadcast online and on the village’s television channel.
“A lot of them, because they have young kids, aren’t able to come up to these meetings, so they watch it on TV,” Christie said.
Gordon said he thought that some kind of initiative may help parents and the public to plan in advance to attend meetings with agenda items that concern them or that they would like to weigh in on.
“Parents need to plan. Sometimes they need more than just a few weeks, so maybe we give the agenda at the beginning of the year with the planned speakers to let people know,” Gordon said. “I’m just big on letting people know. It’s just an extra layer that maybe they’ll send it out and go to their parents’ meetings and say, ‘This is the agenda for the board. These are topics you might be interested in.’ So, they can plan months in advance.”
Kendle and Espinoza both said they find that members of the public are willing to speak to them when they are in public places, such as grocery stores, and it is there that they ask questions that could be addressed if they attended meetings.
“I’m just wondering how we could get the parents to look at this and say this is an important conversation,” Kendle said.
Christie sees it as a tough meeting to schedule for during the week if you are a parent, with students at different grade levels in the village.
“I’m looking at it from the parent’s point of view, where they’ve been given, especially elementary school, and you’re getting bombarded at the beginning of the year with what’s on the agenda, and you have more than one kid. You can forget trying to get to this, unless it’s the night that my kid is having to perform, because I’ve got a lot of other topics between my high school kid and my elementary school kid,” she said.
It was suggested that more information be sent to principals at schools. Village staff member Jacqueline Davy already sends the agenda prior to every meeting in order to get the information out, on top of the information made available on the village web site before every meeting.
Though the schedule is not final, the board plans to meet almost every month between now and May. January is the only month that is unlikely to have a scheduled board meeting.
Abel shared how he hopes to move forward in his role chairing the committee over the next year.
“I will attempt to keep us on track as much as possible and keep us on point as much as possible,” Abel said. “One of my goals is to keep us focused on the topic at hand, of course, staying on purpose with this board, which ultimately is to hear the educational concerns and happenings that are occurring within the schools and being able to translate that back to the village and seeing if we may partner or enhance.”