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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Board shifts special meeting downtown

Anyone who wants to attend the Toledo Board of Education's special meeting this weekend tackling strategic issues will have to make a trip downtown to a law office.

The four-hour retreat, which is open to the public, will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, 1000 Jackson St., where board President Peter Silverman is a partner.

While most board meetings are in the Thurgood Marshall Building on East Manhattan Boulevard, past retreats have taken place off-site, Treasurer Jim Fortlage noted. The law office offers a change and comes at no cost to the district, he said.

Instead of meeting in the evening, Mr. Silverman said Sunday afternoon was chosen so everyone would be fresh for a lengthy discussion, and he said he doesn't think the time or location will discourage public attendance. “If people are interested, they'll come,” he said.

Steven Flagg, a member of the watchdog group Parents for Public Schools, said the school board is making it difficult for the public to attend the special meeting.

“I think they are doing this so people won't attend,” Mr. Flagg said. “I've always been very critical of how the board notifies the public with such short notice for special meetings - if they get notified. I don't have a problem with them going offsite, as long as it is adequately announced.”

On the agenda is consideration of a number of recommendations that Mr. Silverman has made for changing the way the schools operate. Board members also will hear a report by the Committee for School Reform, a group of community members formed after passage of the last operating levy to help the district improve.

Time permitting, upcoming budget issues may be discussed as well, Mr. Silverman said. “It's a big agenda,” he said.

The meeting is part of a series the board intends to have every year to consider strategic issues. “The board is shifting to a continuous improvement format where four times a year we're going to have a four-hour retreat to focus solely on strategic issues,” Mr. Silverman said.

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