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Washington Co. BOE eyes meetings policy

Members discuss dates, times and who is allowed to attend

Members discuss dates, times and who is allowed to attend

February 25, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- On a day when the time and date of the Washington County Board of Education's business meeting was changed, Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham said that the board should commit to a more regular schedule.

She said Thursday that parents, teachers and community members should be able to know that the board is conducting its public business meetings on a certain day. Callaham suggested Tuesdays, which has been the custom.

The board met Thursday after officials said meeting the day after a holiday, in this case Presidents' Day, could cause some issues for staff members.

During that meeting, the board failed to approve a number of policy changes related to the way the board conducts its meetings. Board members decided to have a committee re-examine those policies.

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"I don't know any other body of government who doesn't have set meetings days," Callaham said.

The policy proposed Thursday states that regular business meetings are held "twice each month on days and times to be determined by the board."

Board President Roxanne R. Ober said the board's current policy states it will meet every Tuesday at 7 p.m. However, it typically meets two Tuesdays each month at 6:30 p.m.

Ober said the board has been violating its own policy.

Jacqueline B. Fischer, a candidate for the Board of Education and a former board member, said during Thursday's meeting that she objects to that phrase.

"Establishing a set day and time allows for taxpayers and especially board customers and stakeholders to be able to plan for attendance at meetings," she said. "I can fathom no logical reason for abolishing days and times for regular business meetings."

Fischer and Board Member Wayne D. Ridenour said they opposed language in a policy that they said would restrict the superintendent's ability to invite people, including members of her own staff, to special or closed session meetings.

"What language prohibits it?" asked Ober, who chairs the policy committee that drafted the proposed policy changes.

"There is nothing in there, Mrs. Ober, that says the superintendent may bring individuals forward," Ridenour said.

Board Member Donna Brightman, who is a member of the policy committee, said the committee would have welcomed feedback during its discussions.

"I didn't drop this on you tonight," Ridenour said. "I made this public at the last meeting. This shouldn't be a surprise. I'm not going to feel guilty about having an opinion about a piece of language."

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