By: Sharon Aron Baron
Possibly noticing their lack of involvement in local schools, Mayor Dressler expressed an interest in bringing school-aged children into their commission meetings so they could understand how democracy works, something neighboring cities have done either by having children lead the pledge of allegiance or by attending meetings. Many Cities go even further and reach out by getting involved with the schools in their community.
During Wednesday’s City Commission meeting, Dressler wondered out loud why schools weren’t doing this and believed they would make the first move. Commissioner Bushnell told him, “I’ve been invited time and time to speak to schools…It might behoove us to offer ourselves to the schools because it’s easier to go one by one to the schools rather for them come to us…”
One way to build a liaison between the City Commission and area schools would be to appoint an Educational Advisory Board. Something that Tamarac Talk has been discussing on here and in front of the commissioners for over a year as more and more charter schools have been asking to move into our City.
City Manager Michael Cernech said that years ago, the City had a partnership with Piper High school and the students and the commission had a mock meeting. He told the mayor that he would have to look back and see what they could do to update this.
I interviewed Parkland Educational Advisory Board Chair Robert Mayersohn, who is also a member of the Tamarac Kiwanis who told me about the importance of an Educational Advisory Committee.
“Each Commissioner has an appointee – two at large and two at large alternates. Each member develops a relationship with each of our schools and in turn, we develop a liaison between the City and the school.”
One of the things the EAB has done in Parkland was to make a recommendation to the City Commission on how to disperse funds according to the needs of their schools. For instance, they had funds from their Parkland Dash fundraiser and the committee recommended that they use them for Nooks, Kindles, laptops and high school hot spots for wifi.
They even helped with the input of the school calendar in the early planning stages, and keep an eye on the boundary process each year.
Mayersohn said that most families move to a City because of schools and safety. The EAB can even intervene if a school is a B-rated school by helping to sponsor FCAT or testing camp to help make that school become an A-rated school.
“We have scholarships for high school seniors or anyone that lives in the City that attends school anywhere,” he said.
The Parkland Educational Advisory Board consists of a former school board member from New Hampshire, a teacher, a former city commissioner and mayor, and two attorneys.
Dressler told the rest of the commission, “Normally you don’t get to know how government really works unless you’re in it. I think we should change that paradigm.”