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Monday Moan: How to help put the public into a public meeting

By Jeff SalisburyJeff Salisbury Art_2

Does the Wayland school board have its own agenda? Yes. As a matter of fact it does… every single meeting.

Initially, one of the frustrating experiences I struggled with being a new trustee in 2010 was the pace of decision-making. It seemed as though it took an inordinate amount of time to get things done. I was aware of that pace looking outside-in after attending school board meetings since I was introduced to board members as a new teacher and coach back in 1985.

Board members seemed to labor over decisions more often than not typically like this…

  • Hear an initial report at a work session or regular monthly business meeting.
  • Then perhaps the president (or superintendent) might recommend the program or project be referred to the appropriate committee meeting for further discussion.
  • Next, the program or project might become a “new business/discussion” agenda item and further discussion takes place at a board meeting.
  • Finally, the program or project would appear on an agenda as an “old business/action item” at the next regular monthly meeting. The president would call for a motion – more discussion often takes place followed by a vote by the full board.

And even at this point – perhaps during the discussion it might be that the president might suggest that the board is not ready to make a final decision on the item which of course would further delay implementation.

All that being said, here’s the lesson for my readers – whether you live in the Wayland school district or elsewhere:

Attend meetings and work sessions. Pick up a copy of the agenda. Look for the items listed under “NEW BUSINESS.” As I noted above, those items are appearing before board for the first time. Discussion will take place. Listen to the items as they are presented to the board. Take notes and be prepared to offer your own comments during the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting.

If you are not ready to comment at that time, then by all means, between meetings, do some research, talk to your friends or school employees. If the program or project ends up being referred to a committee meeting, if possible, attend the committee meeting too and listen to the presentation. They are always open to the public.

Finally, contact one or all of the board members with your thoughts, ideas or suggestions about the program or project and then encourage board members to vote YES or NO when the items comes up for a vote. Phone numbers and emails are posted under the Board of Education link on the school district’s web site.

At the next meeting you’ll notice that the original “NEW BUSINESS” items will now be listed under “OLD BUSINESS,” which, as I noted, will now be brought for a vote. Because there are almost always two Public Comment portions on each meeting’s agenda, you’ll have time to stand up and address the board one more time before a public vote.

So – attend meetings – pick up agendas – track the New Business and Old Business items – take the same amount of time to research the items that board members have – contact the boards – speak up at meetings – express your views – encourage board members to act in the best interest of the students and the employees and the taxpayers of the district.

Finally, here are portions of the most recent agendas and you’ll see how items move from New Business to Old Business from past meetings and which items will be doing so in the future.

THE NEXT MEETING IS A WORK SESSION – I hope to see you there!

 

MONDAY JANUARY 26 – 6pm @ Administration Office

DECEMBER 14, 2014 NEW BUSINESS – Discussion Items

  1. 2014-15 Revised General Fund Budget
  2. 2014-15 Revised Food Service Fund Budget
  3. Buses for 2015 Grad Party
  4. School Nurse Contract
  5. Non-Affiliated Staff 2014-16 Handbook & Pay Schedule

DECEMBER 14, 2014 OLD BUSINESS – Action Items

  1. Policy Updates – NEOLA (Vol. 29 No. 1)
  2. Student Reinstatement
  3. Non-Affiliated Staff 2014-16 Handbook & Pay Schedule

JANUARY 12, 2015 NEW BUSINESS – Discussion Items

  1. Lawn Mowing Bids
  2. Summer 2015 Projects
  3. Strategic Plan Goals
  4. WUEA Sick Bank Language
  5. Superintendent Contract

JANUARY 12, 2015 OLD BUSINESS – Action Items

  1. 2014-15 Revised General Fund Budget
  2. 2014-15 Revised Food Service Fund Budget
  3. Buses for Grad Party 2015
  4. Bus Driver Contract

JANUARY 26, 2015 WORK SESSION – 6PM @Admin Office

  1. 2015-16 Budget Assumptions
  2. Budget Timeline
  3. Buses
  4. Summer 2015 Projects
  5. iPad Proposal

NEXT REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING:

February 9, 2015 – 7pm @ Baker Elementary

 

 

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