Beginning Nov. 15, there will be some changes to Centennial School Board’s public forum guidelines.
The board discussed the guidelines most recently at last week’s work study session.
“We have talked about public forum quite a bit. It used to be not so popular and now it has gotten quite popular,” School Board Chair Suzy Guthmueller explained.
The first change Guthmueller requested was that signs not be allowed inside the district office, specifically the board room. “I’d like to see that we don’t have signs in the board room. I don’t think it is inappropriate. It’s distracting,” she said.
School Board Clerk Kathryn Timm agreed. “Waving signs should not be permitted That kind of thing is out of line,” she said.
Meeting attendees would still be permitted to have signs outside of the district office.
Another change the board agreed upon is how speakers are selected. If more than five individuals sign up to speak during the allotted 15 minutes of public forum, there will be a random drawing to determine who can come up to the podium to address the board.
Guthmueller said the change came about after the Oct. 18 meeting, when seven speakers signed up, but only five were permitted to speak. “We got lots of feedback in a negative sense that we didn’t make sure it was balanced… It is such a balancing act for Jody (Josephson, executive assistant to the superintendent) to do that,” she said.
School Board Director Sue Linser said she liked the idea of having the process be more random.
School Board Director Tom Knisely agreed. “We don’t want to be in the position where Jody is having to pick winners and losers.”
Timm suggested the next change. The guidelines state, “Individuals who interfere with or interrupt speakers, the school board or the proceedings may be directed to leave.” Timm suggested changing the word “may” to “shall.” The board agreed.
Timm said the board may also need to consider having a school resources officer (SRO) attend meetings, which it has done on occasion in the past. “We did that in June, and they did behave better,” she recalled.
Another option the board could consider in the future, Guthmueller said, would be to hold the public forum prior to the regular meeting.
“We will continue tweaking our public forum guidelines to try to make it as friendly as we can be and make it work for what it is meant to do,” Guthmueller explained.
“We are in an interesting time right now, and trying to maneuver through … I want to hear what people have to say. I hope they will come and be respectful.”
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