Tuscola school board approves new public comment policy

By Kayleigh Rahn
The Tuscola Community Unit School Board of Education during its meeting Monday, April 23 approved, by a vote of 6-1, a new policy regarding public comment during open session.

The policy was introduced during the March school board meeting for board consideration, and was drafted following guidelines used by the Tuscola City Council.

Superintendent Michael Smith recommended the policy approval to create a more efficient school board meeting.

The new rules require speakers to sign in five minutes prior to the board meeting and their presentation will be no longer than five minutes. Smith said any member of the public who would like to request additional time to speak, can contact the district office prior to the meeting to request time on the formal agenda, which is ultimately compiled by board president Khristi Boyer.

Board member Darold Spillman voted against the policy because he said he didn’t believe it was necessary.

“I know you will approve this, but be aware I will break these rules,” Spillman said. “If I have a question I will ask the speaker for clarification.”

The policy does not allow the board to begin a discussion with the speaker regarding a topic unless it’s been noted on the agenda previously.

“I feel this gives a moment for us to take a step back, gather our thoughts, do our research, ask questions to the proper administrator, and return a proper response to the speaker if they have questions,” said board member Tim Mooney. “I don’t think this is intended to stop discussion but to ensure that we are responding efficiently and accurately. If this leads to further comment in a meeting, that’s fine.”

Board member Cathy Mannen said she supported the policy as long as there is accountability for the board to respond to speakers’ questions in a timely manner. Boyer said she responded to the two questions posed to the board by meeting attendees during the March meeting.

The full policy for public comment can be found at the district office, on the district website, and prior to all public meetings.

The full story can be found in the Wednesday, April 25 edition of The Tuscola Journal.

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