Rockwood’s Board of Education, on Nov. 13, failed to pass, by a 3-4 vote, a request to allow staff to investigate a proposed change in the district’s policy development procedure.
Board Members Dominqué Paul, Rob Castle and Sherri Rogers voted in favor of the plan.
A Problem/Issue/Need (PIN) form was completed by Paul, asking for a change in the procedure to include a question and answer session, or some opportunity for the community to participate during policy review meetings.
“Now, people can listen in at these meetings but they can’t suggest anything,” Paul said. “The meetings don’t incorporate the public at all, and they need that option.”
However, Board Member Matt Doell contended that a high percentage of the policy development updates that are needed hinge on complying with state, county or other regulatory requirements.
“It’s not a matter of having conversations on those,” he said. “We often have no choice on doing them. And anything that may be more controversial, needing public input, is rare. For those, we could say the Board wouldn’t have a second reading on them before we have public questions and answers.
“But I don’t want us to have to hold a public question and answer session on every change, especially on these mandatory requirements for regulation changes that nobody would come to anyway. The sessions, for most policy changes, would be a waste of time.”
Superintendent Eric Knost said taxpayers do have a voice on those issues through the Board of Education members they elect.
“Policy changes come to the board three times at their meetings for three separate votes before final approval, and people can speak about them during public comment,” he said.
Doell added that residents, during board meeting public comment periods, can talk to the board about anything. But Paul said the public now isn’t able to ask questions or express concerns at policy review committee meetings, where the committee examines proposed new or amended policies before they come to the board for approval.
Doell insisted that if residents had questions about a proposal, board members would be willing to meet with them before board meetings begin.
“We need to put the opportunities to do that in writing,” Paul said. “Some people are saying their voices haven’t been heard.”