Public Meetings Are Like Night and Day
Huge gratitude to our Bonner County Commissioners for running their meetings in an inviting way to their citizens. If only our school boards would follow suit. They are both under the same Public Meeting Laws, but, it is like night and day at the two meetings.
County Commissioner meetings begin with an Invocation which is a prayer to God. Each invited pastor that comes has their own emphasis. This single act of humility acknowledges where their roots come from. Then there is the Pledge of Allegiance to our great country which allows this representation. During the beginning phase of the meeting, they ask for public comment, which can be up to three minutes.
Most items on the agenda are under a department. Thus, that department director gets up and presents their issue, a motion is made, seconded and then discussion begins. Emphasizing courtesy, the chairman looks out to the audience, as well as fellow commissioners, for questions and comments. All hands that are raised are permitted to speak and ask questions. This allows conversation and enlightens the audience as well as the commissioners to issues that might be otherwise hidden.
Not so the WBCSD School board meetings.
They first of all do not have an Invocation. Cementing the erroneous thinking about separation of church and state.
Secondly, public input is limited to only two minutes. If you are a fast talker you might get your point made. If you have two points, there is no way.
Thirdly, as each presenter on the agenda, gives their report, questions are only allowed from the board of trustees. Don’t even think to raise your hand if you are in the audience.
Fourthly, when motions are made and seconded, the discussion and questions are only allowed from the board of trustees. If someone in the audience raises their hand, the chairman, has been seen to shake her head scornfully and ignore it. Possibly, the assumption is made that the trustees themselves are infallible and will have all important issues addressed. They don’t need help with this thank you!
So, why do you suppose the WBCSD board of trustees sought and approved an over $30,000 survey to the district to discover how they can better communicate with the public?
Shannon Van Natter
Priest River, ID
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