MEDINA — School board officials plan to make a few changes in the next month in an effort to improve community interaction.
At a work session Monday at the high school media center, board members recommended the following changes to policies and procedures:
• Later meeting time. The board wants to change the times of work sessions and public meetings to 6:30 p.m. Monday. Work sessions, conducted the first Monday of each month, now start at 5 p.m. while public meetings on the third Monday of the month start at 6 p.m.
“I think we need to accommodate people coming from work. If you’re coming from Cleveland, I think 6:30 p.m. is a reasonable start time,” board member Tom Cahalan said.
The measure would have to be approved through a board resolution. Board President Karla Robinson said she will present a resolution for a first reading at the Aug. 19 board meeting.
• Videotaping work sessions. Public meetings are recorded and broadcast on Medina Cable Access Channel 36, but the more informal, discussion-based work sessions are not taped.
Robinson said Channel 36 station manager Jarrod Fry could set the work sessions up to be taped by board members, but could not come in to produce the tape and broadcast it live.
“It would be something where the board member would just hit the record button,” Robinson said.
At Monday’s work session, the board agreed to try taping the meetings and posting them to the district’s website and evaluate the success in a few months. No formal approval is needed to start taping the sessions.
• Allowing more public comment. The board said it’s going to try adding new comment periods to public meetings and work sessions. Work sessions don’t normally include a time for public comment, but members said it might be good to allow comments when the board votes on resolutions or actions that can’t wait for the next public meeting.
The board also is talking about adding three new public comment sections during public meetings for people who want to address specific agenda items. Formal resolutions are voted on in three sections of the public meeting agenda — the treasurer’s report, the superintendent’s report and the board’s action items.
The new procedure would include one 12-minute comment period before votes are cast in each of the three agenda sections. The board also would take general public comments near the end of the meeting.
Board members said they will try out the new comment policies at their next meeting before deciding whether to make them official.
• Publishing meeting agendas the Wednesday before meetings. The board doesn’t make agendas available online now, but board members said they’d like to start making them available the Wednesday before the meeting.
Treasurer Jim Hudson said the only difficulty in getting agendas available so soon is that administrators don’t always get the board their requests before Wednesday. He said he and other administrators would work to get most of the agenda prepared earlier.
“I don’t think a five-day window is a bad thing. We just have to do a better job internally,” he said.
The district has been working to improve communication with the community. Last week Jeanne Hurt, the district’s community relations director, hosted two meetings asking for public feedback. Interim Superintendent Dave Knight also has been reaching out to community members for feedback along with board members Doug Adamczyk and Tom Cahalan in a series of informal community meetings.
At Monday’s work session, Robinson said she would like the district to set up a calendar documenting all the public appearances board members plan to make — whether they’re attending district events or meeting with community members to address questions.
“We need to have a mechanism in place to know who is attending what,” Robinson said.
She and board member Susan Vlcek voiced concerns with Adamczyk and Cahalan over the public meetings they have conducted with community members.
Robinson said she had concerns about a meeting attended by Cahalan, Adamczyk and Knight with parents whose children attend Heritage Elementary School — a building administrators plan to close if the district’s levy doesn’t pass in November.
Robinson said she wants to get levy talking points established before board members meet with the public.
“The concern of mine with the Heritage meeting was I didn’t feel like we were ready to discuss it in detail,” she said. “It cannot happen where someone says something that’s not part of our levy plan.”
Robinson also warned that board members were not allowed to advocate for or against the levy.
“All you can do is say here is the information,” she said.
Cahalan said he was willing to list events he was participating in on a district calendar, but didn’t want to have to get permission from the board every time he’s asked to meet with residents.
“If a group asks if I can speak to them, I want to be able to just say ‘yes’,” Cahalan said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or email@example.com.
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