School Board Meeting Alternatives
[NJ 20010708 1700]

Clearly, we need and want opportunities for public input. Here are some options – as a preliminary to our discussion.

We now (a) hold monthly meetings in school buildings, (b) use committees, such as boundaries/educational opportunities, (c) start meetings with “open discussion,” and (d) permit discussion throughout the evening when items come up. Of course, we also receive postal and e-mail, phone calls, have one-on-one conversations with stakeholders and attend public meetings.

1. We’ve tentatively agreed to start meetings at 7:00 p.m. We could do Board business from 7:00 to 8:30, and hear public input – on those and other items – from 8:30 to 9:30 (or a shorter, fixed, time period). Our voting on items, after public discussion, could be quickly done from 9:30 to 10:00. Potential speakers could watch on TV at home, or in the Board room. Time could be allocated – normally 5 minutes per speaker – so that everyone could speak before 9:30. Everyone would know the schedule. The public could discuss items the same evening we did. No one would have to wait all night to talk. We could get our business done.

2. We could hold nothing but work sessions when we now have regular meetings, and then schedule one entire meeting for nothing but public input – say, the third Tuesday. (a) We’re already doing something like this with our in-school meetings. (b) Some items would have been resolved before concerned stakeholders could speak.

3. We could always schedule special, additional meetings for dealing with topics known to be hot, such as, recently, class size, Scouts’ use of facilities, Twain-Wood, and boundaries/educational opportunities. Such items would be taken off of regular meeting agendas.

4. Given the amount of work we have to do, we could schedule meetings every Tuesday rather than two (or three, counting in-school) per month. We could continue present practice with the 2nd and 4th Tuesday meetings, and reserve the other two for work sessions.

5. There are undoubtedly other possibilities, but this should get our discussion started (with a one-page document!).