School citizens’ committee forming

Organizers seek ‘diverse, non-partisan’ members to provide input to board

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Two people who often stand on opposite sides of Douglas County School District issues are together starting a citizens’ committee. The group will provide community input to the school board.

“The group will interact on a regular basis with the Board of Education, and one of the functions of the group will be to perform a ‘checks and balance’ for operations of the DCSD,” according to a statement from Gary Colley and board member Meghann Silverthorn.

Though a formal name hasn’t been chosen, Colley said it likely will be the Douglas County School District Community Accountability Committee.

For nearly three years, Colley has asked the board for improved community communication, at times accusing members of showing disrespect to people with opposing viewpoints. In 2012, Colley wrote and submitted a proposed public comment policy to the board that it did not consider. 

In June, he proposed the formation of a community group.

“You don’t have a right to complain about anything if you’re not going to present a solution at the same time,” Colley said. “We are taking it upon ourselves to provide a solution they’ve been ignoring. This is going to work, but it has to be given time to work.”

Silverthorn said she liked Colley’s idea and met with him for a brainstorming session.

“The concept of Gary Colley and I working together is sort of unusual,” Silverthorn said. “That alone will attract individuals who may not have otherwise chosen to participate.”

The two will co-host an organizational meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 24 in an as-yet-undetermined location. Those interested in serving on the committee are invited to attend.

“We look to bring together a diverse, non-partisan cross-section of the Douglas County community to include parents, teachers, students and non-parent community members,” the statement continues.

Silverthorn noted the group is not an official school committee. She invited other board members to participate during their July 16 meeting; none expressed immediate interest.

“We as a board understand we don’t know everything about everything,” Silverthorn said. “We have some incredible community members with some incredible ideas. I would like to foster that discussion with the community.”

The group’s purpose isn’t to revisit the past, Silverthorn said, but to focus on the future.

“It’s not about grinding axes or complaining about the way the past was done,” she said. “It’s about moving forward. I want to keep it productive.”

Silverthorn recently filed her intention to seek re-election to the board, but said her decision to work with Colley on the group isn’t politically motivated.

“I would argue if my motivation were my re-election — Gary has been an individual who’s disagreed with the board, so it’d be safest not for me to speak to him at all,” she said. “I would prefer to get out there and open those channels of communication.”

RSVPs may be sent to weteachthechildren@wwdb.org.