The task forces looking at eastside and westside enrollment and facilities operate under a set of “givens” that restrict the options they might consider, isolate them from publilc discussion, and control what items they can discuss at meetings.
The MMSD Web site lists the ground rules:
+ Options will avoid major program changes such as Year Round Education or the creation of Magnet Schools; options may include school pairings, closings, restructuring programs, etc.
+ The Task Force will create up to three options. The options are advisory to the Long Range Planning Committee and Board of Education. The options need to be viable for a five year period.
+ Major construction of a school building requires successful passage of a referendum and a three-year timeline.
+ As a Task Force of the Board of Education, only items listed on the agenda will be discussed.
+ Public appearances are not part of the Task Force meetings. Public appearances may be made during meetings of the Board’s Long Range Planning Committee. Dates for the Long Range Planning Committee meetings are Oct. 24, Nov. 14, Dec. 19, and Jan. 30, with a final special meeting on Feb. 6.
The danger in these grounds rules is that the public will react to the task force recommendations in the same way as it reacted to the recommendations on Leopold. The reaction may well be something along these lines: The task forces were not allowed to look at all the possible alternatives so that voters still won’t get to consider what might be the best and most effective options for teaching children. In the end, the continued limits on options could mean the rejection of any referendum needed to implement task force recommendations.