Monday, October 19, 2015

A Step Forward on Closed Meetings

Below is a letter I emailed to the School Board yesterday.

Dear School Board Members,

I am writing regarding the number of closed meetings being held by the School Board, and practices when they are held.

In August of this year I did an analysis of the School Board’s closed meetings, and found that this calendar year 80% of its meetings had had a closed session.  That number is significantly higher than the percentage of meetings closed in the last two years (during those two years, only about 50% of meetings had a closed session).  Between August and now, however, every meeting has had a closed session, raising the percentage of meetings closed in part to about 84%.  That’s the highest percentage since 2010, when about 84% of meetings had a closed session, like this year.

I understand that the past few months have involved a number of issues, including the PPEA, analysis of a complaint, and the recent petition for review of Policy 5.12, that require discussion in closed session.  That said, because closed sessions make it more difficult for the public to attend and participate in School Board meetings, I’d urge the Board to undertake efforts to reduce the number of closed sessions.

I see that for the Oct. 20 meeting, you have moved the closed session to after the public participation agenda item, which I think is a very good step forward.  I request that you also consider, as I suggested in August, that when meetings are closed, you provide as full an explanation as possible of the reason for closing the meeting, and identify in advance how long the closed session will be and stick to that.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Phil Reitinger

cc: Superintendent Toni Jones
      Clerk Hunter Kimble
      Deputy Clerk Marty Gadell

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