On My Soapbox: Meet with purpose

The Taylor ISD board of trustees held a special meeting last week. The meeting was to discuss plans to begin in-person instruction Monday.

This column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jason Hennington. This is NOT the opinion of the Taylor Press.

I attended Monday’s Taylor ISD board meeting, which I didn’t know about until the morning of. That’s a separate issue in itself.

The meeting was to discuss and possibly take action to extend the start of the school year’s remote learning period beyond the four-week limit.

I commend and appreciate the board’s willingness to discuss these options and make the decision that is in the best interest of the students, but during the meeting I felt like the district was a step behind. I could sense some trustees felt the same way.

The original plan was to begin in-person instruction Sept. 14. A vision was determined for the district to be prepared for students on campus five days a week. The plans at each campus should have been well known by staff, administration and board members at the August board meeting.

Technically, this special called meeting should have been held the first week of September. That way, if a waiver was needed or changes had to be made, the principals, teachers and staff had an opportunity to make adjustments.

I will say the administrators at each campus had their business in order. They knew how they wanted their campuses to operate and what safety measures were in place. The elementary campuses were already having “dry runs” as if students were in the classroom.

The chaotic meeting lasted a lot longer than it should have, and there was never any action taken. I’m not even sure if there was any action to be taken.

With seven days away from in-person instruction set to begin, no one should have left that meeting confused – I think everyone that left that meeting was confused.

I don’t know where the disconnect happened between the board, administration and the campus level, but as, as expressed by trustees, the lines of communication broke down somewhere. The hybrid model that utilizes virtual and in-person instruction cannot be used (see story on page 1), so the high school plan has to be adjusted within a week.

If you missed any part of the meeting, it is archived on the Taylor Press Facebook page. We will continue to stream meetings for this purpose. Although the meeting was long, including the hour-long executive session at the beginning of the meeting, I stayed and watch the chaos ensue.

Not everyone is going to agree with this, but I feel like this meeting was either a week too late, not effective or just unnecessary.

COVID-19 has been an issue since March. I understand that things change every day, but there has been plenty of time for everyone within the district to get on the same page.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now and try to explain to Tiana why she will not be getting a compass and protractor.

"As trustees the first thing we learn is what we're doing, is for the students."

- Marco Ortiz, Taylor ISD board president

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