VUSD board hosts informal chat with community members

In an effort to better connect with the community, VUSD is preparing to host seven events which will allow locals to converse with various members of the district’s board

VISALIA – Those who would like to personally engage with the Visalia Unified School Board can now do so by attending one of their upcoming “Conversation(s) with a Board Member” events. These meetings will give the community an opportunity to engage with the board members on topics that are important to them, in a format that allows the board to respond.

Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) will host its inaugural community engagement event on Oct. 25 at La Joya Middle school. Unlike public school board meetings, which are “not conducive for meaningful two-way discussions,” according to VUSD’s press release, that meeting — as well as the upcoming ones — allowed the board to engage in direct conversation with the community to exchange thoughts and ideas.

“We’re looking forward to this,” said Superintendent Kirk Shrum during the Oct. 17 regular school board meeting. “We’re going to learn from this first experience, we’ll adjust, modify and see what goes well and what we might need to improve on.”

As of publication there are seven meetings scheduled, which will be attended by various members of the board who will rotate each week, as well as extra staff to provide additional information should more in-depth knowledge be needed.

To submit a question for future meetings, participants can either complete an online survey 48 hours prior to the meeting or fill out a brief card with their questions on the day of the meeting and submit it to staff to ensure they have the opportunity to be heard.

“Our goal is to provide a venue for us, the board, to listen, learn, and have genuine conversations with our community,” stated Walta Gamoian, VUSD Board President. “This is an opportunity for us to be thought partners with those who live in our Visalia and surrounding communities.”

During the hour-long conversations — which will always be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. — the district will provide childcare, interpretation services and light snacks.

Those who missed the Oct. 25 meeting can still attend any of the other six meetings on the following dates; Oct. 26 at Ivanhoe Elementary, Oct. 30 at Goshen Elementary, Nov. 2 at Green Acres Middle School, Nov. 6 at RidgeviewMiddle School, Nov. 9 at Valley Oak Middle School and Nov. 13 at Divisadero Middle School.

While there’s currently no plan to offer any additional  “Conversation(s) with a Board Member,” Cristina Gutierez, VUSD’s public information officer, stated that the board is “looking to engage with the community (and) will evaluate these events and see if the community would like to see similar opportunities in the future.”

Regardless of whether or not there will be more of these events, members of the community can always attend the monthly board meetings to provide comments during their open forum so long as they fill out a comment request card before the meeting begins.

To participate in and find the survey for “Conversation(s) with a Board Member,” visit https://tinyurl.com/vusd-cwb. A summary of each of the conversations will be drafted and placed on VUSD’s website and can be found by following this link: https://www.vusd.org/boe/cwb

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