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Washington County school board moves to change public comments policy

Under proposed changes, public comment period would occur after approval of minutes

September 20, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education has taken a step toward moving the public comments section of its business meetings to an earlier time during its meetings and giving board members a chance to respond sooner, if they wish, to the public’s comments.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the first reading of the two policies and rescind an older policy and administrative regulation.

The changes could take effect with the board’s Oct. 16 meeting if the board approves the second reading of the proposed policies at its Oct. 2 meeting.

Currently, citizen participation occurs after approval of minutes, correspondence to and from the board, the superintendent’s report, personnel action and reports to the board.

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Under the proposed changes to the agenda format policy, the renamed public comment period would occur after approval of minutes.

Public comment would be followed by board member response to the public, during which each board member would have up to three minutes to respond to public comments, according to the proposed policies.

Under the current and proposed policies, board members are not to interact with members of the public during public comment, board members have said. Board members now can respond during board member comments, which occur at the end of meetings.

The opportunity to respond earlier to public comments was brought up by board members after a June meeting in which school nurses expressed concerns and asked questions about the school’s health services program after the Washington County Health Department issued layoff notices to school nurses.

Meritus Medical Center Inc. now provides school health services for Washington County Public Schools.

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