School Board Votes To Reduce Number Of Meetings, Not All Agree

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Board of Education president Ed Potosnak said halving the number of board meetings would have no detrimental effect on the district.

The Board of Education on Jan. 7 voted to reduce the number of public meetings it holds in 2016, a move the school board president said  would streamline the decision-making process and allow staff to focus on things other than meetings.

But one board member objected to the change, saying it may not allow for thorough discussions of policy issues.

Starting this month, the board will only meet on the fourth Thursday of each month, rather than on the third and fourth Thursdays. In the past, the first meeting was generally a workshop meeting, and the second meeting was the action meeting.

Board president Ed Potosnak said that most times, the board would take votes at the workshop meetings and discuss policy at the shorter action meetings, so it no longer made sense to have two separate meetings.

“To come for 30 minutes a week after you met for an hour-and-a-half, why not just meet for two hours and be done with it?” he said.

Potosnak said schools Superintendent John Ravally met with staff to ensure that halving the number of meetings would have no harmful effect on the district. Ravally told the board that all business would be able to be conducted with one meeting a month.

Potosnak also noted that the board historically has had only one action meeting a month anyway.

“We streamlined it so staff and faculty could focus their attention on one meeting per month, rather than two,” he said.

He said the board would be flexible, adding meetings if it proved necessary.

Board member Pat Stanley said she had some “concerns” about the change. She said she worried that some issues would not receive full discussions with only one meeting.

“This is a major change to make,” she said. The decision, she said, “seems like” it was made “very quickly.”

“We took some time and went through the calendar, looked at things that happen throughout the year,” Ravally said. “There will still be opportunity for discussion.”

“I’m concerned about not having enough time, and that might have an impact on the entire board,” Stanley said. “I’m just concerned that we’ve cut the time in half” to bring the combined expertise of the board to bear to deal with any issues that might crop up.

When the time came to vote, Stanley cast the lone “no” vote for the change.

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