Over a lunch of egg salad and remarkably sturdy baguettes, the Lewisville ISD board of trustees held a workshop Friday Jan. 12 to discuss the future of, well, workshops.
The board has two main ways of discussing and establishing background material between meetings — workshops, like the one on Friday in which all board members gather and discuss a topic, and board committees, in which three of the board members are assigned to investigate a topic, along with LISD staff, and bring the information to the regular sessions with them. In the Jan. 12 meeting, the board discussed which of these routes it would prefer in the future.
Superintendent Kevin Rogers presented a short powerpoint listing the pros and cons of using committees to make decisions, noting that the board has only been doing this for around two and a half years. Rogers said that after last year’s $737.5 million bond passage, the board will have many more decisions to make on construction items, meaning bringing together all board members into workshop sessions could become impractical due to the sheer number of individual decisions that will need consideration. With committees, at least three board members would be able to receive in-depth information on every subject.
On the other hand, Rogers said, splitting up the information like that could create silos within the board. There is also a perceived lack of transparency, since committee meetings are not open to the public and not every board member gets all the information.
“There is this potential trust concern that some people may believe that, if I’m not on that committee, then I’m not getting all of the information,” Rogers said.
This concern was most prominently raised by board member Tracy Scott Miller, who seemed to be caught by surprise by some board business in previous meetings. Having been a trustee since 2014, Miller remembers the board before committees. He said that the transparency and efficacy of workshop meetings were critical in his mind.
“As a trustee, I feel less informed today, relatively speaking, on items we need to be informed on than I ever have,” he said. “I want to get to where everyone on the board has opportunity equally to hear input … I think what’s happened is there’s been an over rotation in committees. Not by malintent, but just by inertia, they’ve become something they were never intended to be.”
Miller spoke strongly in favor of workshops, but the rest of the board seemed conflicted, seeing benefits of both models. No one spoke explicitly in favor of the committee model. At the end of the meeting, Rogers noted that there doesn’t really seem to be one correct answer — he said he’d spoken to a dozen other superintendents, with half of them in favor of workshops and half in favor of committee sessions.
“I don’t mind having the minutes. I actually like reading the minutes and evaluating what the committees discussed,” board member Kristi Hassett said. “‘I wish I could have heard that discussion,’ that’s what I continue to hear in my head, and that’s why, for me, I would prefer a work session. We are a board of seven, and we have the responsibility to listen to all the information.”
The next LISD regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Bolin Administrative Center, 1565 West Main St. in Lewisville.