Local Government Assignment
This assignment is for enabling the student to get acquainted with local government procedures in the first hand. I will write this assignment based on my attendance of the meeting of the community and student relations committee which is an arm of the Coatesville Area School District. This work is as a result of my attendance of two meetings of the committee one on the eighth of March 2011 and the 12th of April 2011. The agenda of the meeting was the discussion of uniformity in the school district. I will herein give a brief background of the Coatesville school district, its members, its arms, members of the committee, their qualifications and how long they have served. I will then give my reflection and evaluation and lastly my conclusions.
Brief History and Background of the Coatesville Area School District
The Coatesville Area School District was created in 1965 by the government of Pennsylvania. It is located in Coatesville in Chester County which had a population of 10,838 people according to the 2000 national census. The Coatesville School District is composed of two buildings which are high schools and six which are elementary. In an endeavor to satisfy the changing and increasing need for technology in education, the district has embarked upon a massive construction project. Its high school campus has undergone a full overhaul while work is still in progress on the twelfth and eleventh grade buildings. The renovations of these buildings comprise the building of 12 new modern science laboratories, in addition to the renovation of the technology, music and art rooms. The natatorium and the gym have also been renovated. The district also boasts the first green school in the county in the new Rainbow Elementary School.
The tentative budget for the school district was released on 24th May 2011 and is available for public viewing on the COASD website. The School District has projected revenue of $137,374,365 and expenditures of $136,348,213. The district expects $41.1 million to come from state revenues, $5.8 million from the federal government, $85.2 million from local revenue and $5.2 million from other sources.
Background of the Governing Body
I attended the community and student relations committee which is one of the arms of the Coatesville Area School District which is the link between the community and the schools. The members of the Coatesville Area School District are J. Neil Campbell as board president and Rick Ritter as vice president. Other members are Joseph Dunn, Diane Brownfield, Robert Knecht, Dr. Tonya Thames Taylor, Paul Johnson, Laurie Knecht, and William Sweigart. The non voting members are Danette Murphy board treasurer, Kenneth D. Lupold board secretary, and Karen Jackson the recording secretary. The members of the board have all served for 6 years except for the non voting members who have served two years each. The board members are elected from the three electoral regions with members having to give up their positions if they cease to be residents of those regions. Each region votes in three voting members into the board to make a total of nine. The members of the board elect a chairperson upon their first meeting which is presided over by the former president. The members that serve in the governing body are qualified in all aspects to serve in those capacities as they are required to adhere to strict ethical standards in order to serve.
I attended two meeting of the Community and student relations committee. The first meeting was held on March 8 2011 while the second one was on 12th April 2011. Both of these meetings were held at the 9/10 Center Auditorium. The meeting on the 8th of April was called to order by the chairman at 6.08 pm and adjourned at 7.00 pm while the meeting on 12th April was called to order at 7.52 pm and adjourned at 8.14 pm. The purpose of the meeting on the 8th of April was the second reading of the review of the revised policy #223 over the use of bicycles and motor vehicles, the second reading of the review of the revised policy #224 over the care of school property and lastly the discussion of the elementary uniform dress code. The meeting on 12 April 2011 was to discuss the elementary uniform dress code.
The Governing Body of the Local Government
The Coatesville Area School District was created in 1965 following the implementation of the Education Act of Pennsylvania of 1964 which divided the state into School Districts which were mandated to run education other than higher education in the districts. The School District is an incorporated institution established and governed by the 24th title of the Public School Code of 1949 in the Statutes of Pennsylvania and the third article of the constitution. The board will set up schools for people living in Coatesville who are aged between 6 and 21. The School District will also adopt and enforce rules and procedure concerning all matter concerning education in the district. The mission of the Coatesville school district is to offer learners the best possible learning opportunity in order that they may attain their utmost potential. The qualifications of the members of the body include good moral character, above 18 years of age, one year residency in the electoral region, not holding employment with government in the school district area or the municipal council. The candidate will not have been dishonorably discharged from any government position. There should not be any financial dealings between the candidate and the school district. Lastly the candidate has to file his financial interests with the state ethics commission before appointment or confirmation.
The agenda of the meeting on 8th March included a review of the policies of the use of bicycles and motor vehicles and a review of the care of school property all of which were coming up for a second reading. The third motion was concerning the elementary dress code. The community and student relations committee approved the second reading of the first and second motions with three votes for and zero against. On the third motion the school board made a recommendation of an amendment of the motion in order to approve a feasibility study on a uniform dress code plan in elementary schools in the coming year. This motion also passed with three votes for and zero against. The agenda of the meeting on the 12th of April was for the discussion of the elementary uniform dress code. The meeting agreed on the proposed dress code with three votes for and zero against. The meeting on the 8th did not have any old business. The meeting on the 12th of April did not have any new or old business discussed.
Reflection and Evaluation
I had quite an exciting time attending the meetings knowing to know local government procedure. I however had some negative aspects in the meetings which I believe need to be changed. Before I attended these meetings I had always assumed that the local citizen played a part in policy setting now I know that they only participate in the election of regional representatives. One thing I learned at the meeting is also that there was very low attendance from the populace. In order to increase citizen participation in these meetings the public also need to be given a chance to air their views and not only be mere spectators. The Coatesville Area is a very strong force in politics as they control issues of importance in education and control of local taxes and budgets. I believe that people lack interest in local government because they are never involved in policy formulation as was evident during the meetings I attended and hence the local governments should formulate and formulate policies which make local government more inclusive and participatory. As far as local government is concerned there is some degree of democracy in people electing representatives for their local regions but more needs to be done. People who are more progressive would hail the system concerning its policies against corruption. I am not likely to attend another meeting unless the rules are changed so as to make the process more participatory.
I attended two meetings of the Community and Student Relations community on 8th March and 12th April respectively. The agendas of the these meetings concerned the use of motor vehicles and bicycles, the care of school property, and the adoption of a uniform dress code for elementary school all of which were adopted. The second meeting also discussed budget cuts announced by the federal government. These meetings enabled me to get acquainted with the workings of the Coatesville Area School District which was created in 1965 and is found in Coatesville of Chester County. My attendance of the meeting enabled me to interact with some of the members of the school district. This research also enabled me to know of the procedures that are followed by the board. The School district is charged with matters pertaining to education and its finance in the district as spelt out in the constitution. The research enabled me to get information on how the board is constituted its code of ethics, procedures and how it is run. I learnt that attendance of local government meetings is very low and if this has to change the process should be made more participatory. The part about the process not being the best is mine and thus can be taken out of the research as I am a progressive which may influence my perceptions of the system.