School board changes public comment process

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Although school district officials said they'd like to maintain -- even improve -- communication with the community, they felt that an open forum during a school board meeting wasn't the way to do that.

On Thursday night, the Moffat County School District Board of Education took three actions that change how members of the community can address the school board.

The first was the elimination of a "Let's Listen" policy adopted in 2001, which gave members of the public a set time on the agenda to address the school board.

In its place, the board revised a policy addressing public participation at board meetings.

"We still would like that open communication with the community with the hope we become a better school district because of it," Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.

"This makes sense from the standpoint of efficiency of the meeting."

The policy limits public comment to items already on the agenda, and those comments must not exceed three minutes, with an allowance of 10 minutes of board discussion on the issue.

Those wanting to place an item for discussion on the agenda must contact the superintendent at least seven days in advance.

The board will not discuss personnel or discipline issues about specific students in public session.

"This is designed to provide a forum, although not an open forum," Bergmann said. "There are a wide range of other options for community involvement."

He mentioned parent action committees and school accountability committee meetings as examples.

In addition, the board passed on first reading a new policy on how to deal with public concerns and complaints.

"The board believes that complaints and grievances are best handled and resolved as close to their origin as possible," the policy reads.

It directs those with complaints to follow a strict protocol, taking their issues first to a staff member, then to that person's supervisor, then to the superintendent and finally to the school board.

When a complaint is made directly to a board member, that board member shall refer that person to the supervisor or superintendent, the policy states.

There will be a public hearing on the policy at 4 p.m. Dec. 16. The policy is scheduled for its second and final reading at 7 p.m. that night.

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