The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

District 95 Transparency Policy Falls Short

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I encourage interested readers to click over to school board member Amy Erickson’s blog (link) and take a look at the proposed transparency policy. I’ll quote from Erickson’s post:

Please review some of the proposed ideas or policy statements from that meeting below.

  1. The public needs to turn in a request to address the Board in person to the Superintendent’s office 24-48 hours prior to a General School Board meeting.
  2. Community may comment after opening the meeting and before the close (in General or Committee Mtg.)
  3. The minutes should only contain pertinent information such as required in the OMA.
  4. A draft of the minutes can be prepared and placed online 7 days in advance for review
  5. Anyone can suggest the minutes to be amended
  6. The meetings may be videotaped and broadcasted

Most of this seems okay, but there are two exceptions. If I read this correctly, point number one would require community members to submit a form in advance in order to speak at a school board meeting. To me, this seems designed to discourage public comment, rather than to encourage it. Citizen’s comments are taken at city council meetings with no advance notice, so why should notice be required for the public to comment at school board meetings?

If I read number two correctly, citizens would be allowed to comment at the beginning and end of meetings, which is good, but I see no mention of comment on particular agenda items. I’ll again refer to the practice used at city council meetings. Citizens are allowed to comment on each agenda item before a vote is taken. I’ll again ask, why should school board meetings be different?

I encourage the board to create a policy that encourages participation from the community. The board doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel – it can simply follow the example set by the city government. Unless the board can offer a compelling reason to limit public comment, they shouldn’t do it. If they can offer a compelling reason to limit comment, I’m eager to hear it.

The board meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the CES Administrative Office on Giant City Road, and the meeting is open to the public.

Again, I encourage readers to click here to read Erickson’s entire post. 

Comments are welcome.


Written by The Carbondale Observer

July 21, 2011 at 7:45 am

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