Marietta superintendent reaches out to community

Not everyone is comfortable standing up at a public meeting and offering comments in front of an audience.

With that in mind, Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton has launched a project he calls Upward Communication. It’s a chance for people with something on their minds about the school system to meet with him in a less formal setting.

“This is something new, I just wanted to give people an opportunity to talk outside the board meetings,” Hampton said Wednesday. “Some people want to avoid those meetings – they occasionally get confrontational, and there are people out there, good people who want to avoid those situations who still have something to say.”

Hampton, who is available nearly any time Monday through Friday by phone, said the venue will be less formal and less structured than board meetings, “just me and a secretary,” and will offer more time for dialogue and discussion.

Hampton said he intends to speak briefly at the beginning of each session and then invite participants to say whatever is on their minds.

The board president, Doug Mallett, and vice president, Russ Garrison both said Wednesday they are pleased with Hampton’s initiative.

“I think the better job we do communicating with parents and stakeholders, understanding their concerns, the better off we are,” Garrison said.

The board meetings have some shortcomings, he said.

“The time frame for people to talk is relatively limited, three minutes, and that’s not really conducive to an interchange and discussion,” said Garrison. “And at a board meeting, we already have an agenda and a lot of topics to work through.”

Mallett said he thinks the Upward Communications might provide a more relaxed setting for people to talk.

“People are much more comfortable in that kind of one-on-one environment,” he said. “The board meetings sometimes make people anxious. This could be another forum to gather information.”

Hampton said people come up to him all the time in public, whether at events or ordinary occasions like going to the grocery or the post office, to discuss matters related to schools.

“And I don’t mind that, it’s part of my job, being accessible to people,” he said.

The meetings all will take place at 6 p.m. on Oct. 16, Oct. 25 and Nov.1 at the administration building, 111 Academy Drive.

•What: Opportunities to meet with Marietta City Schools superintendent Will Hampton.

•When: 6 p.m. Oct. 16, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.

•Where: Marietta City Schools administration building, 111 Academy Drive.

•For information: