By JOHN McBRYDE
When it comes to the listening tour that Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden is currently involved in, the online reception has been much stronger than the in-person visits.
“Facebook Live has gotten so much more attention than our visiting tours that we’ve done,” said Golden of the meet-and-greet sessions. “So we’ve scheduled more of the online listening sessions.”
The current tour began a couple of weeks ago with a Facebook Live session, and another one is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 11:30 a.m. For Thursday, however, Golden has scheduled an old-fashioned listening at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Centennial High School.
“In June, I made a commitment to gather input from members of our school district community,” Golden said on the WCS website. “I will be available in-person and on social media to take questions and hear from our families, staff and community members, and I’m looking forward to listening.”
As he listened during the Facebook Live visit in August, Golden heard parents asking mostly about transportation — buses, routes, staffing — and zoning, especially as it relates to the new middle school under construction on Hen Peck Lane. Questions were also posted about growth, projections for certain neighborhoods, the school calendar, online classes and special education.
Both Golden and WCS Director of Communications Carol Birdsong said they weren’t sure what to expect at Thursday’s in-person show, but judging from one held in May, they’re not anticipating a large turnout.
“We had more staff there [at Centennial High in May] than we actually had parents,” Birdsong said. “We had to kind of prod people to ask questions.”
Of course, Golden wasn’t exactly a stranger when he was named superintendent in May. He has been with the district since 2006 and served as deputy superintendent for seven years. He wants to keep listening, though.
“My hope is, over the course of time, if I continue to keep those channels of communication open, we’re going to serve people better,” Golden said.
“We plan to do these [Facebook Live] at least quarterly, maybe every couple of months. We’ve gotten such good feedback and such good questions from parents, that it’s taught me that we need to take those opportunities to answer their questions and share it. The process of educating children is so complex that there’s no way we can answer everybody’s question without finding some way to share it with a large group of people.”