Yikes, ThoughtExchange is back on the school board agenda–see here under the misnomer, Stakeholder Relations Report (MIS), which includes a link to an attachment showing a price of $170,720 for ThoughtExchange over five years. This expense would be paid for by the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) taxpayer provided PPEL fund. Is ThoughtExchange worthy of spending ICCSD’s limited funding on?–NO should be the resounding answer!
ThoughtExchange is marketed by its vendor as a tool to engage the public; however, there are other engagement opportunities ICCSD could make use of to gauge public opinion, and there are no cost benefit analyses on the agenda showing alternatives. Additionally, ICCSD’s board could highlight its willingness to engage the public by restoring the public’s ability to comment at board meetings at the time of an agenda item.
Five years is too long to commit to technology or software like this.
When ThoughtExchange was considered by ICCSD’s board at its March 24, 2015, meeting, the minutes from that meeting showed former ICCSD board member Orville Townsend rightly “expressed concern that it [ThoughtExchange] will not do what we want it to do in terms of reaching low income families.”
And another reason for not using ThoughtExchange was stated at that same meeting by former board member, Marla Swesey, where she “expressed concern with spending the money stating she feels PPEL funds could be spent better.”
For more on this issue, see my previous posts here and here and here. Also, consider that when ICCSD’s board declined to approve ThoughtExchange on March 24th of this year, only Brian Kirschling and Chris Lynch voted in favor of it with all other former board members voting against it.
Current ICCSD board member, Chris Liebig, has highlighted The possibility of buying into ThoughtExchange at his new blog Another blog about school–see here.
While there are likely to be past board decisions and issues that should be revisited by the ICCSD board, the board’s past decision to vote down ThoughtExchange is not among them.