School board considers update to public participation policy

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Troup County School Board is considering an update to its policy related to public participation in board meetings.

The first reading was held during Tuesday’s work session for the proposed update to policy BCBI, which covers the process the public must follow to speak at a work session or board meeting. The current policy states that anyone who wants to speak to the board has to put in a written request with the superintendent by noon on Friday of the week before the next scheduled board meeting. 

The proposed policy would allow anyone wishing to speak at a work session to sign up near the entrance to the board room before the 5:30 p.m. meeting begins. 

No time limit is listed, but the board chairman is allowed to designate a time limit for comments. Work sessions are typically held on Mondays, although February’s meeting was on a Tuesday due to Presidents Day. 

The policy is slightly different for board meetings, which are held on Thursdays. Under the proposed policy, anyone wanting to speak about a specific item on the meeting agenda must notify the superintendent by noon on Monday prior to the monthly business meeting. 

Under the proposed policy, board presentations at board meetings would be limited to 3 to 5 minutes maximum, unless a time extension is granted. 

“I put together what I feel like is an extremely open process, where people can have input on general topics at the work session and agenda topics at the board meetings on Thursday nights,” Nichols said. “If there are any suggestions about changes, let me know.” 

The policy also states that the board must be addressed as a body, not as individual board members and that comments should focus on issues and solutions. Speakers can criticize the school system, but in public sessions the board will not hear personal complaints regarding personnel. 

If all goes as planned and the first official reading of the policy is held Thursday night, the board will have a second reading at its March meeting and the policy would be put into effect. In between those two readings, changes can be made to the policy. 

Nichols said board members had reached out to him about a couple of suggestions to consider, but those were not discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The entire proposed policy can be viewed on the Troup County School System’s website.