WSSD Petition Follow-up

This week the petition for improved transparency was delivered to the school board with 103 signatures (not 203, it was 103). In response, Board President Wachtman noted that some of the items on the petition are related to suggestions from the recent communications audit and that the district would continue to work on these issues. The board also moved up comments (although the first comment period was still 2 hours into the meeting). They are also now posting summaries of the subcommittee meetings (such as this one) which gives more detail about what’s being discussed at those meetings. So, some early progress.

Board Meeting Viewership

I took a look at Youtube views of WSSD board meetings, plotted here (I removed most of the special meetings like reorganizations). The pandemic era was characterized by spikey viewership. The pandemic measures were a lightening rod that attracted attention. Since the start of the 21-22 year that behavior stopped. In the first half of the 22-23 year, it looks like viewership has dropped noticeably. The November meeting is the only meeting with under 100 views. I haven’t analyzed it closely, but meeting duration doesn’t seem to correlate to reduced viewership – indeed one of the longest meetings is one of the most watched. And lingering views of old meetings also don’t seem to account for the reduced numbers judging from other municipal meetings. Board meeting re-runs do not seem to be popular viewing.

Scheduling Problems

The current topic I see discussed in our community is the collision of events today (Jan 26th) with the NPE Winter Concert, the SHMS Young Playwrights Mini Fest and the SHHS back to school night all occurring simultaneously. For families with children at multiple schools, this creates a very unhappy situation where they have to choose which of their children’s events to go to that evening.

The 26th is particularly unfortunate, but this is not a one-off event, as can be seen on the district’s calendar. For instance, on Feb 16th we’ll have the SHMS student-faculty basketball game apparently scheduled for the same time as the HSA meeting and WES Math night. On March 7th there’s a Mental Health Resource Night at SHMS while WES is having its PTO meeting, and on the 10th SHMS is having a Jazz fest on the same day as SHHS’s opening of the musical Grease. And that’s not including athletic events, which have their own calendar. On the 26th alone there are 7 athletic events listed, although 4 of them are before 4 pm so don’t necessarily conflict with the evening events at the other schools.

What can be done? The district has a nice calendar, it could probably be used to avoid future collisions with some inter-school communication. Tell the board what this does to your family. What hard choices are you having to make? What is the effect on your children and family? How is this disruptive to them? If they’re so inclined, your children can write the board about how this affects them – the board has always listened to student’s comments. If you know one of the board members in particular, you can contact them at their school emails:

Christine Dollé –
David Grande –
Kevin Henry –
Rachel Holbert –
Lawrence Kutys –
Wendy Voet –
Kelly Wachtman –
Nannette Whitsett –
Mary Jo Witkowski-Smith –

Or you can contact the whole board at

But if you don’t let them know what a hardship this is, it won’t become a priority to avoid it in the future. And it will continue to happen.

Categories: WSSD