More public comment planned at beginning of school board meetings

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

Jeffco Public Schools’ new board is putting its stamp on how meetings are run.

During the Dec. 11 meeting, the board voted unanimously to change the public-comment portion of meetings and the structure of the consent agenda, which contains routine district matters that are approved by the board in one vote.

These changes come on the heels of a change the board made at a meeting in November in which three new conservative board members were sworn in. At that meeting, the board created an online sign-up for constituents to speak at meetings in an attempt to give more public access to the board. The new system seemed to go smoothly at the Dec. 11 meeting.

In the past, the board had two public comment sections: the first at the beginning of the meeting for those wanting to speak about something on the agenda, and the second near the end of the meeting for those wanting to address the board about other topics.

Starting with the Jan. 16 meeting, the first public comment opportunity will start with those wanting to discuss something on the agenda and will be rounded out by those wanting to address other topics for a total of 45 minutes. Anyone unable to address the board the first time must wait until the second public-comment opportunity at the end of the meeting.

Board president Ken Witt said more people would be able to address the board at the beginning of the meeting, so they would not have to sit through the entire meeting waiting to speak.

Regarding the consent agenda, all board items and the superintendent’s consent agenda have been rolled into one.

In the past, a board member could remove items from the board’s consent agenda for further discussion simply by asking. Removing an item from the superintendent’s consent agenda took a majority vote of the board.

Now, any item on the consent agenda will require only a request from a board member to be removed for additional discussion and a vote.