The Union Recorder

October 9, 2013

BOE discusses ways to engage public dialogue

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Baldwin County Board of Education is discussing possible ways to allow the public to engage more during its regular work sessions.

School Board Member Lyn Chandler, District 3, hopes his fellow board members get on board with his idea of allowing individuals to speak, ask questions and share thoughts in an informal time frame after each work session.

“I have a sense that the community as a whole would like to get involved to help improve the school system, and one way to do that is to provide an opportunity for community people to have open exchange in more of an informal way than what we have now,” Chandler said. “I agree with [Wes Cummings’, District 5] idea to have a window of time, maybe 30 minutes, immediately following each work session so people get to hear our discussions first and if a question comes to mind, then they have the opportunity to clarify.”

According to the school board’s current policy, a citizen wishing to speak regarding any issue has to make a written request to School Superintendent Geneva Braziel at least five days prior to the regularly scheduled meeting. If the matter is applicable for the board’s consideration, the superintendent can approve the request. Persons who request the opportunity to speak cannot exceed five minutes, and the school board is not allowed to provide an immediate response during the meeting. The superintendent replies to the person’s concerns or questions in a timely manner via phone or in a written format.

“I am convinced that we need to do better job with communicating with the public. We’ve got to open up lines of communication with the public,” Chandler said. “It’s critical we do everything we possibly can to engage the public ... and if we want economic growth and development in the community, I think that’s essential.”

School Board Member Harold Simmons, District 2, would also like for the community to feel welcome in expressing their thoughts and ideas in a more informal structure.

“I think it’s time to have dialogue with community people and organizations. Informal dialogue is needed and I think it’s time that we put ourselves in a position to let the community know that we’re open and we want to hear from them,” Simmons said. “We have the tools and resources to do whatever we need to do to make our kids better and allow the community to grow by communicating and listening to the public. I think it’s a good idea and I think we can make that happen.”

If the school board agrees, revisions will be made to the policies and brought back to the board in the November board meeting. The revised policy will then lay on the table for 30 days for review and voted on during the December regular meeting. 

“I’m hoping that we will move forward with this idea and open up meetings to allow open exchange between board members and the public at large. I think it will be very positive if we allow this to happen,” Chandler said. “People will walk away with a more positive feeling of our school system as a whole.”

To read the school board’s policies in its entirety, visit http://baldwin.schooldesk.net.

In other business during Tuesday’s board meeting, the board:

• recognized Creekside Elementary School third grade student Charley Cruey for winning second place in the state of Georgia in the Jimmy Carter Postcard Art contest;

• recognized the school nutrition program for its high student participation with a certificate from the Georgia Department of Education;

• recognized employees of the transportation department as part of School Bus Safety Month;

• heard a presentation from Eagle Ridge Elementary School on the Flexible Learning Program;

• approved minutes for the meetings held on Sept. 9 and 10;

• approved personnel recommendations;

• approved financial reports for the school system and the Early Learning Center;

• approved sole source and bid purchases;

• approved a field trip request from the Baldwin High School chorus;

• approved a purchasing policy and wellness policy with revisions to lay on the table for 30 days for review; and

• approved the 2013 nomination for the Georgia School Board Association Partnership Commendation.

• heard the sales and use tax fund report from Braziel.

The school board is slated to next meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the board office.

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