BOE: questionnaire response slow

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not many people have responded to the public input survey sent out by the Brewton City School Board last week.

The four-part questionnaire is designed to open a dialogue with the community in the wake of allegations that parents are fearful of reporting incidents such as bullying to teachers and administrators. The allegations were made after a former band director was arrested on charges of sexual abuse, unlawful imprisonment and ethics violations.

The questionnaire was distributed to a crowd attending the board meeting in support of a “Citizens for a Better Brewton” group. Layout 1

Superintendent Lynn Smith said Monday that response had been “limited.”

Two weeks ago, Leza Nelson spoke to the Brewton City Council and urged parents to help her “break down this culture of fear.” And the community took her plea to heart as Nelson spoke at last week’s board meeting before a standing-room-only crowd.

Nelson, who was given five minutes to speak, said the group has four core issues to address  – transparency, accountability, policy and communication.

Nelson spoke again at Monday’s city council meeting and said she’s seen positive steps by the administration.

She urged residents and city council members to offer their suggestions on bettering the flow of information.

“I’ve asked the system for a copy of all of (its policies and procedures) involving the board, staff, teachers, students and parents,” Nelson said. “Our group has also checked the websites of other systems, where their policies are posted in a very user-friendly way. I can’t say the same for our system.

“I will take your suggestions on what we can do to make things better,” she said.

School Board Chairman Stephanie Walker said this week more public information is needed before policy changes can be made.

“We know people are busy but we really need to hear from a wide cross section of people,” Walker said. “We need elementary parents, middle school parents and high school parents. They don’t have to answer every question – any information they share will give us additional perspective.

“Our goal is to improve our communication with parents and students, to increase the board’s effectiveness by examining current policies and to enhance the educational climate in our schools and among community members,” she said.

The questionnaire can be found at the Brewton City School office or at Responses can be hand-delivered, mailed or faxed to the board office at 811 Belleville Avenue.

The responses will be discussed in a Sept. 30, 6 p.m. workshop at the central office.