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CACoC Transcript District Relations Committee Meeting

CACoC Transcript District Relations Committee Meeting

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Published by ched macquigg
transcript of APS District Relations Committee meeting where the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication was rejected
transcript of APS District Relations Committee meeting where the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication was rejected

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Published by: ched macquigg on Apr 23, 2012
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04/23/2012

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BOARD MEMBER GARCIA: The next group this evening is the citizens advisory group for communication. Thepresenters are, let's see, Kim Hillard, Galen Smith, David Walker, Charlie Countee.These are the representatives of CACC. Let me just double check. Is this also the group where RepresentativeJanice Arnold-Jones is involved or engaged?UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Right. She's there.BOARD MEMBER GARCIA: Okay. Ms. Jones, would you like to step forward and come to the table?Thank you. So welcome and good evening. This is also a discussion item. We're glad you're here. We're pleasedyou're here. I just want to say a couple of things that are obvious to us as a board and obvious to the administratorsbecause they've sort of heard us rant a little bit about this. This is not a one-way relationship. This is a two-wayrelationship. That is why we called this committee of the whole board, district and community relations, because webelieve that a relationship goes both ways. So thank you.And who would like to start?MR. HILLARD: I will. My name is Kim Hillard. I've had five children graduate from APS, three at Highland, two at ElDorado. I'm here to introduce the presenters. Ralph Ellison once said, "Education is all a matter of building bridges,"and that's what we are about, to build bridges. We represent a bipartisan group of citizens advocating for a citizensadvisory council for communications. Let me introduce the two gentlemen that are presenting it. Mr. David Walker,sitting over here. He has resided in Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska before settling in Albuquerque. He practiced lawfor 31 years. During that time he served a term as a United States District Court magistrate judge. He's now anactivist who assists organizations that advance the interests of the public.Mr. Galen Smith. He, with the exception of four months, has lived his entire life in New Mexico. He was a '67graduate of Alamogordo High School, a '73 graduate of New Mexico State. He has resided in New Mexico, like Isaid, for many years and been an Albuquerque resident for 35 years. His entire education has been within NewMexico public schools. He's been an entrepreneur, created computer systems applications, and his lifelong love oflearning has translated into an avid interest in the future of education for young people in scientific areas which areneeded to benefit both the youth and our society.Having said that, then, I would like to turn it over to Mr. Smith.MR. SMITH: Thank you, Ken. Madam President, Mr. Chairman, members of the board, it's my privilege today tospeak on behalf of quite a cross-section of -- probably a completely inclusive cross-section of people in Albuquerque.Some of us have children, as Mr. Hillard and Janice Arnold-Jones, people who have had children in APS. I have not.
 
But in my 35 years in Albuquerque at the rate of about $1,600 per year in property tax, I paid in about $56,000 intowhat is primarily the Albuquerque public school system. And that's just the past, not the future.My concern is how effective is that money being spent and are we achieving the goals that we set for our publicschool system. Now, you may not know it, you may be aware of it, APS has kind of a public image as a darkmonolith, something out of Darth Vader or 1984, impenetrable, nonresponsive, and that's what we're concerned with.We are not at this point the citizens advisory council on Communication. We're here to advocate for the formation ofsuch a council because the present communications system that APS has with the public is not very effective.Despite all of Monica Armenta's efforts as the ministry of communication, that's a fairly narrow pipeline forinformation and it just carries what the board thinks that the public ought to know and there is relatively little going inthe other direction. True, we can write letters and they may or may not be answered. To whom should we sendthem?So we think that the problem of communication is a lot the fact that there is not an organized method within APS thatexpects a broad spectrum of communication with the public. We'd like to see that change. So the advisory councilon communication isn't, we expect, to be a venue for communication but a development project in cooperation withAlbuquerque Public Schools' administration and board to work with members of the public to develop within APS theconnection modes that allow public concerns to be expressed and answered.To that end, we expect this citizens advisory council to be a project under development so that it has to start with two-way, face-to-face communication. And to that end, we asked in the petition for certain aspects of involvement andcertain commitments on the part of APS to give the citizens' side of it access to the information that's been gainedand is part of the institutional memory of APS with regard to advisory committees so that we can draw on thatinformation to see what mistakes were made in the past, things that we hadn't thought of, in order to set upsomething that is effective and is seen in a positive light by both sides. We envision that we would need theparticipation of a person in APS who has experience with these councils to guide us, to have training sessions in howto work with APS, how to work with one another in order to define and achieve specific goals in setting up an effectivecommunication system that will change how the public perceives APS and increase the transparency that the publicis owed from this institution of government.We would also expect and desire that we could have access to facilities to set up meetings and to have thosemeetings recorded. The -- there's nothing like losing your place. I don't know that I've said anything -- that I need tosay anything else except to emphasize that the idea here is to open a new chapter in cooperation between the publicand the governmental institution that APS represents. It's one of the largest institutions of government in the statewith one of the largest budgets. We'd like to be as effective as possible in developing cooperation between thepublic, the board and the administration of Albuquerque Public Schools. Thank you.
 
MR. WALKER: Thank you, Galen. Pardon me. My name is David Walker and I just want to try to tie this together alittle for you if I can. Madam President, Mr. Chairman, members of the board, I think it's important to realize whenlooking at our petition that what we are talking about is process oriented.It's not substantive. We don't intend to be a complaint desk. That's not something that we see as our function. Ourfunction is to help develop a mechanism that will allow members of the public to come and express whatever theywant to the system and know who to speak to within the system and to get an answer for their concerns, whateverthey may be.And we anticipate that those concerns will be resolved at the lowest possible level, so it's not something that we seeas reporting to the board at every meeting or representing people with their complaints. That's not what this is aboutat all.This is about a process of developing a way to help -- developing a way to help the citizens, the people here and alsoto help the district because
 –
I don't want to belabor it, and I will not -- as all of you are aware there is a dim view ofAPS, and, yes, there may be times it's not deserved in the public.This is a way to involve the public and get them responses so that they will at least believe that they have had theirturn through the system and that they've been able to express concerns if they have them.I want to emphasize that this is about public concerns. I also know and have some appreciation -- I have someappreciation of the amount of time that you spend in board meetings and committee meetings, and I want you torealize when you look at the petition, which I hope you have in front of you, when you see this, I want you tounderstand that we haven't asked for one second of the board's time in this matter. We're not suggesting that wemeet regularly with you or any other things. The meetings that we have concerning you, you're certainly welcome,but, again, it's the process that we're talking about, trying to institute this process. And so since we're not asking foryour time and we're not coming to the board meetings, it's -- what are we asking?Well, we're asking first for you to assign a senior administrator who has firsthand experience with councils, previouscouncils, who will act as a liaison between our group and the members and leadership of APS. That person will beinvaluable to us in structuring the communication ladder where things are presented together. We would like to puton
 –
have the district put on a workshop conducted by the administrator and his staff so that we can be verysuccessful in our efforts. We need help in performing a productive citizens advisory council. And then everythingthat we do we intend to be very transparent. We ask that all of our records of previous council meetings -- all thedistrict records of previous council meetings be recorded, be a matter of record and be published on the district'swebsite in the way that the board meetings are.

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