ROCORI COMMUNITY FINANCE COMMITTEE
On Tuesday, last week, we had a Community Finance Committee meeting in the Board Room at the District Office. The committee and its functions are probably not very well-known throughout the district, but we had some discussion about membership on the committee and are in the process of seeking new or additional members for the group. I thought this would be an ideal time to share about the committee.
The committee has operated since the 2005-2006 school year, but many people in our district are not really aware that a Community Finance Committee exists. From time to time, we share information from the committee with the ROCORI Community. Updates on the committee work are given regularly at School Board meetings.
The School Board authorized the formation of a Community Finance Committee to bring together leaders from our communities. The original purpose was to help committee members understand a little more how district finances work but also gather thoughts and feedback from those leaders.
The membership of the committee, as it was authorized, was intended to have representation from each of our communities along with a wide variety of leadership roles involved. Over time, the membership on the committee has changed but the goal is still to have a diverse mix from our communities.
PURPOSE AND FUNCTION
As the ROCORI School District explored the development of a Community Finance Committee, various purposes, functions and goals were discussed. The idea was to have a group of people who could offer suggestions about how the district conducted its business and financial affairs. The committee was desired as a “sounding board.”
In order for committee members to offer constructive feedback to school leaders, some steps of education about school finance also had to occur. Initial interactions showed that school finances are considerably different than many other business operations. As such, committee members needed to became familiar with district decision-making processes in order to offer feedback on district directions.
The education work of the committee takes two directions. First, school district leaders want to better understand how information is heard and received in the ROCORI community. Second, informed community members are able to offer feedback on reaction to school issues in the community.
School information typically is “packaged” in the manner that it is transmitted between districts and across the state. The way information is generally shared may not allow the general public to understand school information because it is “different” from private business operations.
Over time, committee members have helped school leaders be able to better share and communicate information effectively. In addition, questions asked by committee members help the school district look at its own information from a different perspective. This also helps share information with the community.
The second educational element is to have a broader base of community members who have looked at school information, understand elements about the school, and are “informed” members of the school community. The district is not seeking “disciples,” but rather informed residents who can offer good feedback, who can be a sounding board for ideas, and who can ask good questions about issues in the district.
Ideas the district is considering or proposing are often brought to the committee to gather reaction or feedback. As information is shared, reviewed, or requested, the district seeks feedback on issues that are important from the community perspective. The feedback from members of the community is important.
Committee members, in their normal work and as community leaders, may hear questions or concerns about issues within the ROCORI School District. Significant issues “out in the community” regarding the school district are issues we also want to hear about. These issues may be presented and discussed at committee meetings. The Finance Committee has been a means for the district to hear about these issues.
Areas from which the board and administration have received feedback include financial reductions, negotiation of contracts, maintenance and stewardship of property, use of capital funds or resources, construction project, referendum plans and approaches, significant initiatives within the district and many other issues of concern. The committee has been very appropriate and valuable in offering feedback.
The Community Finance Committee is currently seeking residents of the ROCORI School District who would be willing to serve as committee members. The committee meets the first Tuesday of the month over the noon hour—typically from noon to 1:30.
Most of the agenda and information is contained within the time of the meeting. Again, the primary purpose is to learn and offer feedback, so there is not often “homework” or committee work outside the actual meetings.
Interested community residents may contact the District Office for additional information.
The Community Finance Committee has been part of the ROCORI organizational structure for more than seven years! After considerable deliberation about its purpose and function, the committee has served as an excellent tool to bring community and school leaders together.
Overall, the committee offers the district a connection to community resources and insight that would not otherwise exist!