If district residents can't make it to the start of the meeting, they can address board at the end, board members decide
Since Robin Brekken was elected to the school board a little more than four years ago and re-elected to a second term last November, the Crookston School Board from time to time has discussed its meeting time, specifically, if the 5 p.m. time should be moved to later in the evening on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.
It’s been Brekken who has spurred most of the discussions. At first, the 5 p.m. meeting time was inconvenient for him, but most of the time, Brekken has expressed a desire to move the meeting to later in the evening because he said school district residents, mostly parents, have said that their work schedule makes it impossible for them to attend 5 p.m. board meetings.
At the board’s most recent meeting, Brekken brought up the issue again, saying he’d been contacted by parents who said they wanted a chance to voice their concerns to the board. Specifically, Brekken said, their children excel academically, and the parents feel that they are not being challenged enough in Crookston’s public schools. If they aren’t able to speak to the board about it, Brekken said, the parents indicated they might just do the “easy thing” and open enroll their children to another nearby school district. With enrollment a constant challenge in the Crookston School District, Brekken said, allowing that to happen probably isn’t something the board wants to do.
Brekken suggested moving the meeting time back to 6 p.m. But board member Dave Davidson, elected to his first term last November, said a 6 p.m. meeting time would present a major conflict with another organizational board he serves on. A 6 p.m. meeting time, Davidson said, would force him to be absent from half of the school board meetings, and half of the other organization’s meetings.
So, instead of changing the board’s meeting time, Davidson suggested that the board’s meeting agendas be made more flexible when it comes to people attending the meetings and having a chance to address the board on various topics. Currently, each 5 p.m. board meeting opens with an “open forum,” at which those in attendance are asked by the board chair to stand at the microphone and address the board on any topic, with a five-minute limute. The vast majority of the time, no one in the audience rises to address the board, and the board subsequently moves onto the remaining items on its agenda.
Davidson said the open forum at the beginning of the meeting should remain, but that the board could, from now on, revisit the “open forum” at the end of the agenda before adjourning the meeting, so that anyone who was unable to make it to the beginning of the meeting and arrived during the meeting would have a chance to address the board near the end of the meeting.
The board didn’t take any official action on the matter, but they all, including Brekken, agreed that the agenda modification is a good idea.