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Monday, May 30, 2016

Board member encouraging more discussion between public, trustees

Friday, September 12, 2008

A promise was full-filled.

When Forrest Buell decided to run for Clay Community School Board member-at-large, he made a promise to his voters that if he were elected, he would try to bridge the gap between the board and members of the public.

At the Sept. 11 board meeting, Buell asked for public input to be placed on the agenda. The discussion was centered on the best manner possible to invite the public, school board members, teachers, and students input at school board meetings and in general.

"It is frustrating for the public to ask something but to have no response from the board," Buell said.

He hopes to give the people in the community a chance to voice their opinion in a less structured environment.

"This would give the public a chance to have a discussion with the board, ask questions that they feel are important and receive answers," Buell said. "This would be a great way to invite the public in to meetings and have a response to the issues at hand without the formality of a monthly meeting."

The idea of the discussion is to allow for more input and less isolation by board members, the public and teachers.

"I think it is a good idea," board member Ted Jackson said. "We would still need some sort of agenda, with general topics of discussion, every quarter or every month while school is in session."

Board president Brian Atkinson expressed the same thoughts.

"We can look into the idea if having a separate meeting at least once a month or quarter, however some sort of guidelines should be set, because certain discussions could become heated," he said.

Member Terry Barr also had the some of the same views.

"My biggest concern is this turning into a shouting match between parties," Barr said. "With these meetings lasting until 3 a.m."

Board members are going to write down ideas for consideration of an "open discussion forum."

"We want to still be able to allow for a back and forth discussion, but still have guidelines so that order is maintained," Atkinson said. "We are willing to try and see how it works."

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I can see the benefit of a separate "cracker barrel" or work session for more intimate discussion between board member and patrons but also remember the days of when the police had to be present due to the "animated" atmosphere during some board meetings in the past when all got just a little too "passionate".

There would need to be a neutral moderator of some type in order to be able to select speakers or questions for the panel of whichever board member is present and the patrons would have to realize that not all questions could be answered correctly by memory from a specific board member.

"cracker barrels" and candidate forums that are held always have a sponsoring organization that serves as the moderator. That may be stumbling block for this type of thing.

Of course Dr Buell or any other member can always invite patrons to their home or arrange a meeting at a restaurant ...such as Hardees, or other local establishment for discussion as well as an individual, not in official board member capacity so long as their meal isn't paid for by another....That's too much like Federal level politics [grin]. That however may be conceived as favoritism if opinion of same is swayed during that conversation.

Both the positive and negative aspects of this idea have to be looked at carefully and proceding with caution is advised so we don't repeat mistakes of the past that led us to problems of the past in both board action and perception of same.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 9:28 AM

I don't think the public would abuse this process. I think public input is very important. This should be accommodated. Nobody is going to keep the board at bay until 3:00 AM!! Great idea.

-- Posted by scwh1974 on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 6:10 PM

It is nice to see that Dr. Buell has had such a huge change of opinion regarding the public. I can remember years ago when my mother was fighting for the rights of students in special ed. If she even wanted to speak with the board she had to send a certified letter to get an audience with them. This was initiated by Dr. Buell. I hope this change is sincere, but I am still holding my breath.

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Mon, Sep 15, 2008, at 7:45 AM

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