Policy regarding public comment during meetings was amended at the USD 231 board meeting Dec. 14.
The board considered four options.
The motion approved was a Modified Option four. It will be updated in the USD 231 Board Policy on Public Participation at Board Meetings. Speakers are limited to five minutes unless there are more than 12 speakers, if there are 13-20 speakers, the time limit for each will be three minutes. The allotted time will be no more than 60 minutes. The motion was made by Robin Stout, seconded by Tresa Boden. Those voting yes were: Tresa Boden, Rob Shippy, Shawn Carlisle, Brandon Parks, Robin Stout. No vote was Lana Sutton. Kristen Schultz was absent.
Many districts surveyed do not have a defined policy. About 60 parents/students addressed board members at the Nov. 9 board of education meeting, which lasted several hours.
Those patrons wishing to speak were had been told to wait in the parking lot until called; some waited up to two hours for a chance to speak. Just before 6 p.m. the Gardner Police Department was called to have protestors moved off of USD 231 property, but no additional steps were taken.
During the Dec. 14 meeting four options were presented by Ben Boothe, director of community relations. Boothe had surveyed surrounding districts. GE had the lowest number of patrons allowed to speak limited at four, limiting total time for public participation at 20 minutes. USD 231 also required patrons to notify the district of their request to speak by noon the day of the meeting.
Statewide, many districts did not define number of speakers allowed, time to request an audience with the board, total time allotted for public participation or limit on number of patrons allowed to speak.
In his report, Boothe said like-sized districts from across Kansas were surveyed. The primary purpose of public participation at meetings, he wrote, is to provide citizens with an opportunity to participate in the meeting. During the open forum, any person may address the board with respect to district affairs and may present petitions or other documents.
The BOE considered four options:
*Three (3) minute speaker max/30 minute public participation max
*Three (3) minute speaker max/60 minute public participation max
*Five (5) minute speaker max/30 minute public participation max
*Five (5) minute speaker max/60 minute public participation max
Board briefs issued by the district say a measure was approved; “9.1 – Approved to amend and update BOE Policy BCBI – Public Participation at Board Meetings, but does not elaborate specifics.