Public comment eliminated during Boone meetings

Daniel Boone School Board President Richard Martino said at the April 14 Committee of the Whole meeting that agendas will no longer allow for public comment at the end of each discussion topic.

He said the public can speak on agenda items before and after the meeting, and on non-agenda items at the close of the meeting.

“First you want to limit the minutes -- of what is written down,” said Shane Kochel, Union Township. “This is disheartening. [The previous board was] recording all the meetings and wanted as much participation as possible. You should respect the public and give us the time to speak.”

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“This is not a meeting of the public, but a meeting of the school board in public,” said Martino, explaining that meetings could be shortened without a three-minute, per-person comment period, which could add an additional 48 minutes for one person who comments on 16 different issues.

“The public should be able to weigh-in,” said board member Andrew Basile. “Many times they don’t. It’s helpful to hear the public’s opinion at the time to reach better decisions. Maybe we could do a better job of moving things along? There should be an opportunity for the public to speak at this meeting. The voting meeting generally goes much faster.”

“Mr. Kochel shouldn‘t have to squeeze many comments into three minutes,” said Basile. “I think that is what the Committee of the Whole is all about.”

He added that Martino “took advantage of the multiple public opinion times” when he attended meetings as a member of the public, before he was a board member.

Martino was elected to the board on Nov. 5, 2013 and approved as school board president on Dec. 2.

“I think the board should limit its time on items and issues,” said Laurel Reno, Douglassville. “There are many nights we sit here when you go round and round and round on items -- and you want to limit our three minutes?”

The board has not yet resumed its discussion of the March 24 issue of how much information and quotes should be included in the board’s meeting minutes.

Basile said the public, as well as present and future board members, should know the rationale and arguments upon which board members vote on issues.

“We need background as to why people voted,” said board member Suzanne Dungan.

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