Greencastle-Antrim School Board wants to expand comments

Speakers are not and will not be allowed to discuss personnel matters

July 30, 2010|By DANA BROWN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The Greencastle-Antrim School Board moved closer Thursday night to expanding the public comment session of its regular meetings to include comments on non-agenda items.

The board looked at expanding the session, formally called "Recognition of Citizens" on the agenda, to allow people to speak on issues and concerns and to ask questions on non-agenda items without seeking prior approval to do so.

Current policy allows the public to speak on agenda items, but they must be granted permission from Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover prior to the meeting to speak on items not on the agenda.

Board policy limits the duration of each presentation to five minutes. Speakers are not and will not, however, be allowed to discuss personnel matters, Superintendent Gregory Hoover said.


The Recognition of Citizens session typically follows the approval of the agenda early in the meeting.

School board members favored the proposed inclusion of public comment on non-agenda items, however discussion centered around how much time to allow each speaker and establishing a time limit for the entire session.

Board President Arnold Jansen suggested that the board should remain flexible rather than limiting the amount of time each person would be allowed to speak.

Board member G. William Thorne expressed concern that without time limitations, the school board meetings could become even more lengthy.

"You could be here all night," he said. "I don't want it to get out of hand."

Thorne said he simply doesn't want to see longer meetings.

"If they feel that strongly about an issue they can always e-mail us," he said.

Thorne said he regularly receives e-mail correspondence from the public.

The board agreed to set a time limit in the proposed change and will limit speakers to three minutes each, with 21 minutes being allowed for the total session, but moved to table further discussion until their next meeting on Aug. 19 to allow more school directors the opportunity to vote on the proposal.

School members Katy Buchanan, Kristy Faulkner, Paul Politis, Michael Shindle and Jake Statler were absent.

Jansen said allowing citizens to speak on non-agenda items has been debated at different times throughout the past seven years.

He said Greencastle-Antrim is the only district requiring people to gain prior permission to speak on non-agenda items during meetings.

He isn't certain the proposed change will come without controversy.

"I don't know, it's hard to say," he said.

"I see it more that if a person has a thought, they can bring it before the board," Jansen said. "I hope it stimulates public interest."

Hoover said that relaxing the guidelines to allow people to speak without getting prior approval could be "good for the district, good for the community."

"I hope the community takes advantage of it," he said.

In other business, the board approved contracting with integraONE of Mechanicsburg, Pa., for an informational technological audit at the cost of $17,899.

The board also approved the first reading of Policy 221 - Pupils: Dress Code and Grooming, which establishes that pictures of weapons will not be allowed on clothing worn to school.

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