Over a year ago at our annual retreat, one of my colleagues suggested we go around the school district and chat with our communities. After a lively discussion, we collectively decided to hold a quarterly, informal meeting with our constituency, and “Bagels with the Board “was created.

Now in its second year, these relatively unstructured get-togethers have not only provided us with insight, but afforded us the opportunity to address and improve a number of issues. One example is some confusion arose over forms for volunteers at our schools. Unfortunately, some parents were reluctant to volunteer. The procedures and forms were changed to remove an unintended road block. Something we did not and would not have known if a parent hadn’t relayed it in our discussions. At our last meeting, a parent expressed a concern that her child would be held back because of the students AzMERIT test scores. We explained AzMERIT testing is just one of many tools and assessments used by the teachers and schools to determine each child’s academic progress. Another parent addressed the need for a short-term summer camp. When the school year begins on a Tuesday or Wednesday, it is difficult for working parents to secure short-term child care. Given this information, we will mitigate it before August, 2018.

The meetings also gives us an opportunity to explain things how school districts are funded, the process to project enrollments in schools, the critical teacher shortage, and the cost of changing daily school start times. Our goal is to connect with our communities. These informal meetings have proved invaluable. While we provide for public comment at board meetings, we are forbidden by law to respond to items not on the agenda. At “Bagels with the Board,” we can listen to concerns, have meaningful two-way conversations, and fix problems expediently.

While “Bagels with the Board” is held at a different geographic location each time, it is not limited to area schools. Our next meeting will be held before winter break; it will be announced at all schools and on our web page. Plan to join us. We anxiously await your thoughts on PVSchools. May we count on YOU to have a bagel with us?