Board’s public participation based on policy

  • Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 8:18 a.m.

At every formal Aiken County Board of Education meeting, people can sign up prior to the meeting for public participation.

By policy, each speaker gets five minutes to comment on an education-related issue or make a request to the board members or administration.

As an alternative, people can get on the agenda by contacting the School District through email or a written letter by Friday at noon before the next meeting.

During public participation, three opponents of a City of North Augusta project financing mechanism spoke to the Board. Later in the meeting, Todd Glover, the North Augusta city manager, gave a presentation of about 25 minutes on changes in the original proposal.

Opponent Steve Donohue and others asked to address the Board again and were told they could not.

“It’s very frustrating, like the board doesn’t want to hear any other facts,” Donohue said. “We’re not whistling in the wind. We want to give them some facts.”

They will get that chance at a public hearing at the District office on Tuesday. That meeting will start at 6 p.m., although student disciplinary hearings in closed sessions may begin first.

That was the intent all along, said Board Vice Chairman Ray Fleming.

“Our policy doesn’t permit public discussions from the audience,” he said. “If we allowed that, discussion could be around the financial report or a replaced HVAC. It could be the whole agenda. Such an open discussion would prevent us from carrying on our business.

Donohue and others consider it unreasonable that the City got the chance to speak at length about the project.

The City’s appearance was a Board agenda item to get information from City officials, Board members said.

Board Chairman Rosemary English set up the next meeting Tuesday, Aiken County Schools Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt said.

“The Board has been very open to additional meetings for more input,” she said. “It’s less formal and allows more in-depth information.”

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