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Day or night meetings?

December 17, 2004

Would more parents attend meetings of the Washington County Board of Education if more of those sessions were held during the day?

It's a question the School Board may answer if it decides to do a trial run of alternating day and night meetings now through March. If the change doesn't boost attendance, We suggest that the meetings be returned to an early-evening schedule.

Currently, the board holds its business meeting at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays each month. Under a plan advocated by board member Roxanne Ober, meetings would alternate between day and night.

Ober said that parents whose children are in school could attend the day meetings. Ober said such a change also would help school system employees who now attend meetings that run until 9 or 10 p.m., then have to go to work the next morning.

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Bernadette Wagner, another School Board member, said day meetings also would allow teachers to provide the board with feedback, with substitutes handling their classes.

On that idea, we agree with board vice president Jacqueline Fischer, who said that teachers who feel the pressure of the No Child Left Behind Act would not want to leave their classrooms in someone else's charge.

The proposal resulted in a rare split vote, and School Board members agreed to bring it up again at a future meeting.

When that happens, we urge the board to consider that Wayne Ridenour, the top vote-getter in the recent election, works as a real estate appraiser.

Most of that work must be done during the daylight hours, but after the meeting he said he would find a way to do it.

In our experience, an alternating day-night schedule, whether for a full-time job or occasional meetings, doesn't work as well as a set schedule. People are creatures of habit and don't like their routines altered.

We also believe the board will find that those parents who don't have to work when their children are in school usually spend part of their time volunteering at their children's school. Would changing the meeting schedule be worth losing such valuable help?

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