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School board OKs expansion of public comment session

People will be allowed to speak on non-agenda items without permission

September 16, 2010|By DANA BROWN

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

The board expanded 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 needing prior approval to do so.

The previous policy allowed the public to speak on agenda items, but required that they get permission from the superintendent or the school board president at least five working days prior to the meeting to speak on non-agenda items.

The new policy states that the board president may place time limits on public discussion or presentations.

There is no change to the policy regarding public discussion on personnel items, which is still prohibited.

The new policy will be in effect starting with the Oct. 7 meeting.

Superintendent Gregory Hoover said that while there have been some complaints in the past about the limitations placed on public comment, the change in policy will better reflect what the board been doing all along.

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"We just brought policy in line with the practice," Hoover said.

"We wanted to remove any concerns, it's more a formality," board member Joel Fridgen said.

Board member Eric Holtzman said he hopes the change in policy will encourage people to come forward with comments and concerns.

"I hope this brings more discussion," he said.

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

Allowing citizens to speak on non-agenda items has been debated by the board of school directors at different times throughout the past seven years.

Until the change in policy, Greencastle-Antrim was the only district that required people to gain prior permission to speak on non-agenda items during meetings, Board President Arnold Jansen said previously.

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