The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) today launched Board Watch, a grassroots program involving community volunteers who are trained to observe public school board meetings in cities and towns across Connecticut, which was made possible in part by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Board Watch volunteers are informed local citizens serving as independent observers and evaluators of their school board’s governance and work towards established goals.
“Responsible for decisions about school funding, budgets, teacher and administrator contracts, new facilities and programs to improve student achievement, Connecticut’s more than 150 school boards play a critical role in our public education system,” said Jennifer Alexander, CEO of ConnCAN. “That’s why we’ve launched Board Watch to empower citizens to be more engaged in the many important decisions made by local school boards, promote civility, and better inform the public about school board performance.”
The first cohort of Board Watch volunteers from Norwalk have received training in board governance best practices and techniques to observe and evaluate school board meetings. Training included pilot volunteer evaluations of Norwalk Board of Education public meetings. In 2017, Board Watch will make evaluation results public at www.conncan.org/boardwatch to better inform local citizens about their school board’s performance and work on key student achievement and equity issues.
“As a parent of a child in Norwalk public schools, I am excited to serve as a Board Watch volunteer so I can be a better engaged advocate,” said Michael Byrne, Board Watch Observer, parent, and President of the Norwalk Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) Council. “Just observing the process and being at school board hearings is empowering, and I’m confident our work on Board Watch will help our community be more informed about the important issues facing Norwalk’s public schools.”
“One of the most important elements to the success of our public schools is engaged parents and residents,” said Dr. Steven Adamowski, Superintendent of Norwalk Public Schools. “It’s great to see Board Watch citizen volunteers attending school board meetings and letting other parents and residents know about the important issues facing our district.”
“As the Chairman of the Norwalk Board of Education, I welcome the engagement of local Board Watch volunteers at our public hearings,” said Michael Lyons. “Parent and community input are essential to our decisions on major issues impacting Norwalk’s public schools, and Board Watch is an important effort to inform and engage more residents in our work.”
Board Watch is initially launching in New Haven and Norwalk, with plans to expand to school boards in communities across the state. Residents interested in becoming a Board Watch volunteer for their local school district can visit www.conncan.org/boardwatch to receive more information and fill out an application.