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Published: Friday, 1/23/2004

Talk with school board chief lauded

Parents and Urban Coalition members who met last night with David Welch, president of the Toledo Board of Education, agreed: Their conversations were less intimidating and could be more productive than the public comment session of regular board meetings.

“It makes it much more comfortable for parents,” said Darlene Fisher, vice president of Parents for Public Schools.

“I think maybe he s sincere in wanting to hear what the public has to say,” said Twila Page, secretary of the African-American Parents Association and frequent district critic.

She said the new monthly one-on-one discussion with the board president would not replace her regular speaking at the board s business meetings.

“We ll be there,” she said.

Mr. Welch last night began what he has dubbed his “office hours,” time he ll spend talking with the community. He plans them on Thursday evenings before the board s monthly Tuesday meetings.

“The first one probably is the easy one,” he said after last night s two-hour session. “Time will tell.”

The Feb. 19 session will be in East Toledo. Tracy Wieczorek, a parent coordinator for the Waite area, said she d like to see more of a town hall-style meeting at which Mr. Welch answered questions.

“It will be very informal and very comfortable,” she said.

Mr. Welch and six people talked about a variety of topics, including the district s program to evaluate first-year teachers, the addition of a gifted-and-talented program in the junior highs, and how the district could better use community input.

“I think you deserve some credit for doing something different,” Joe Zielinski, a member of the Urban Coalition and co-president of Parents for Public Schools, told Mr. Welch. “It does open the door a little bit.”

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