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Community Corner
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News From Our Capital: By Delegate Brent Boggs

Community Calendar: A Listing Of Local Events & Happenings

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In this weeks edition:

Board needs to revisit policy…
I have fielded a lot of complains over the years. Many are regarding the Board of Education. Lately, most regard the Board. I believe one of the main reasons people are so unhappy is what they perceive to be the lack of consideration of their issues.
The Board puts out a single page sheet titled “Guidelines for Delegations”. It makes many good points, and I am pretty sure it originated as compliance with the Open Meetings Law. That portion of State Code basically says that matters can not be considered if they are not on the agenda. I believe the intent was to prohibit spending without notice to the public. I say that because many years ago, I sat on a statewide committee that drafted the last revisions to the OML and that was what was intended.
Our Board has taken that a few steps further and basically prohibits any discussion. The code doesn’t say a public body may not discuss something that is brought up outside the agenda, it simply says they can’t act on it if it requires a monetary exchange.
The pubic seems to feel like the policy just allows the Board to postpone action “hoping we will go away,” as one person put it. History would indicate that the vast majority of subjects brought to the Board in this fashion are never heard of again in less another delegation brings it before the board.
The Board President makes a statement thanking those who addressed the Board adding that the matter will be looked into. I attend a number of other gathers of public officials, and this is not the way the rest of them handle it. They will often tell citizens they will put the subject on the next meeting’s agenda or that of a work session. They also interact with the pubic and give them what information pertaining to their subject that they can. In doing so, most that took their time to attend the meetings don’t do away feeling ignored.
The Board wonders why they lack widespread public support. In my opinion this is a big contributing factor. No, you can’t please all the people all the time. But you certainly can make them feel like their concerns have been heard. Many, that I have spoke with, who took their issues to the Board of Education don’t feel that way. I follow the meetings rather closely. We have a staff member attend most of them. I don’t see consistent carry over of topics that are brought up. The Board should at least give the public a response.
I believe it is time the Board revisits their “Guidelines for Delegations” and become a little less formal in their reception to issues the pubic has. Talk to them, help them understand if you are following guidelines that can’t be altered. They may not like the fact that you, the Board, are not going to change something, but they will, for the most part, respect the effort you put forth to help them understand. As I See It… our Board isn’t making the grade in this area.

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