Wilmington Learning Collaborative officials discussed Friday the next steps for the equity-focused group. (Pexels)

Learning Collab council grapples with leader, meetings

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Wilmington Learning Collaborative officials discussed Friday the next steps for the equity-focused group. (Pexels)

Wilmington Learning Collaborative officials discussed Friday the next steps for the equity-focused group. (Pexels)

In Friday’s first public meeting of the Wilmington Learning Collaborative’s board, members focused on ironing out the specifics on how the organization will move forward.

Among the issues they tackled were selecting a temporary secretary to handle organization issues; setting meeting times; and forming committees to tackle the three main goals of the board.

The collaborative is designed to improve student achievement and outcomes in Wilmington’s elementary schools – which are split among several school districts – while tackling societal discrepancies that negatively impact many families in the city. 

Here are highlights from Friday’s meeting:

Selecting a secretary 

Jenny Yeow, Red Clay’s parent representative, volunteered to serve as the 12-member council’s secretary until an executive director is picked. Once that happens, the executive director will assume the secretary’s responsibilities. 

In the role, Yeow will organize meeting times and locations, and post public notices, minutes and agendas, while making sure the collab follows Delaware’s public meeting laws.

More meetings

It’s no secret that some of the initial steps for the collab to get the ball rolling have been delayed, whether that was signing the memorandum of understanding to create it in the first place, or hiring an executive director to lead its board.

“Meeting once a month is not acceptable or appropriate,” said council member Adriana Bohm, who’s Red Clay’s Wilmington board member. “Meeting twice a month is definitely better. However, that still allows a week here and then a week there to go by.”

RELATED STORY: Learning Collab to hold first public meeting Friday

After discussing which days work best for the 12-person council, a motion to meet at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday was approved. 

Several of the council members also are members of the Redding Consortium for Educational Equality, which has similar goals to the Learning Collab – to improve the education of disadvantaged children. The WLC meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday will ensure no meetings overlap. 

Project Manager

Council member Alethea Smith-Tucker, who is Christina School District’s Wilmington board member, suggested that Delaware State University’s Shelley Rouser be named temporary project manager. 

Rouser is the chair of DSU’s Education Department. She previously had spoken at school district board meetings, offering DSU’s help with the collaborative. Rouser did not attend the meeting.

Under Smith-Tucker’s plan, Rouser’s appointment would be for four-months. She would be responsible for team-building exercises, supporting and developing a communication plan, and helping to hire the council’s permanent executive director. 

After Smith-Tucker made a motion to appoint Rouser, Don Patton, who is the appointed city representative and Christina school board member, said he didn’t know enough about Rouser and her qualifications to agree to the appointment.

He suggested reaching out to Empower Schools, a national education association that’s been working with the board, for advice about appointing someone. Several board members are flying to Florida next week to attend an Empower Schools seminar.

Smith-Tucker said that the duties of the project manager aren’t necessarily specific to the collaborative, but rather any governing board.

Therefore, she didn’t see a reason to only look at educational advocacy organizations for a representative to fill the role. 

Even so, she withdrew her motion.

Help with bylaws

The council voted to keep a hybrid meeting model to allow governing members and the public to attend meetings either in person or virtually. 

They also agreed to contact Matt Lintner, a lawyer in Gov. John Carney’s office, for guidance on drafting bylaws.

Red Clay Superintendent Dorrell Green, a council member, said he will reach out to Empower Schools for additional advice. 

Establishing subcommittees

Creating the collab’s bylaws and hiring a project manager and an executive director are the top three priorities for the council. 

They voted to create three subcommittees to address these tasks. Each will have five members and the goal is to have the committees set sometime next week. 

Each subgroup will meet on a week where the full body doesn’t have a meeting. 

The collaborative, which was originally set to meet once a month, will now have five meetings of some kind each month in order to start making progress on their goals. 

The next meeting

The Learning Collab’s next meeting will be Thursday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. The meeting location has not been determined but will be posted, along with a virtual link to watch the meeting, on Delaware’s public meeting calendar sometime next week.

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