Citizens given more time to say their piece at school board meetings

August 02, 2011

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Citizens speaking up during Washington County Board of Education meetings recently have had a little more time to make their points.

Under board policy, each person is given five minutes to speak during the citizen-participation portion of the board’s business meeting.

During Tuesday’s board meeting at the central office, a Hagerstown couple encouraging the board to start a edible schoolyard at Bester Elementary School exceeded the five-minute period without any comment from board members.

“From the chair, I’m trying not to cut somebody off in midsentence,” Board President Wayne Ridenour said after the meeting.

He said board members have discussed the issue among themselves a few times.

“Trying to see how that goes,” he said.

Ridenour said he also forgot to mention the time limit at the start of citizen participation Tuesday, and it was a short meeting, so there was some flexibility.

During a July 12 board meeting, representatives from the West End Neighborhoods 1st group said it was ridiculous that they only got five minutes to argue an issue after sitting and waiting 90 minutes through various board presentations.

The board gave the group some latitude on the time limit that day.

— Julie E. Greene

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