Friday, April 26, 2013

Seeking to set a model for transparency in Town Government

Early on, the Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC) set a lofty goal to achieve a level of communication, transparency and civic engagement that "far surpasses the minimum standards set by Open Meeting Law."

Formed in March 2013 through appointments by the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen, the ESBC has been assigned a mission to "facilitate development of a proposed solution to the operational and educational constraints of Center School that will be supported by the voters of Hopkinton, as well as the MSBA."

Since then, the committe has met weekly, and has launched several communications channels aimed at building civic awareness and community engagement.  All meetings have been open to the public, and meeting minutes have been posted rapidly, supplemented with additional communications to keep the community informed. 
Here are a few tips for community members navigating the ESBC website and Twitter feed:
  1. Navigation and User Interface - The navigation on the ESBC web site is now across the top in two tiers: The top tier reflects items to which the community may come back more than once for reference, the bottom tier reflects areas that might not be checked as often. A new addition to our site navigation is the "Action Taken" summaries. Following the model used by the Board of Selectmen, the ESBC now can quickly post actions taken against our posted agendas. A fast, efficient way to reflect progress made at our meetings prior to availability of full meeting minutes.
  2. Recent News - Items of interest (such as press releases, interviews, important documents), are posted in blog form. Every time an item is added, it is automatically replicated to Twitter to get the word out as much as possible.
  3. Get in Touch with the ESBC- Email addresses are provided for all ESBC committee members, along with a description of each members role and expertise. A more detailed description of the members can also be found on the Who We Are page.
  4. Twitter - Aside from just blog posts, the ESBC also posts directly to Twitter and our Google Group (independent of what appears on Recent News). This can be links to minutes, agenda links, quick recaps of meetings and decisions, or posing questions to the community.
All community members are invited to use and share these resources freely. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to reach the level of awareness and engagement needed to achieve our community goals for Center School and provide the best learning environment for our community's youngest students.

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