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Take Our Poll: Public Comment at School Board Meetings

The Easton Area School Board could give the public more time to speak at meetings. What do you think?

For years, speaking during the public comment portion of an Easton Area School Board meant playing a game of "Beat the Clock."

The board limits each speaker to three minutes; go beyond that, and an alarm sounds, telling you that your time is up.

But now some board members want to change that. As Zach Lindsey of the Express-Times reported Saturday, board members are exploring getting rid of the time restriction for public comment.

"If we take another 40 minutes or an hour because we're listening to concerned citizens, then so be it," said board member Frank Pintabone.

There are questions board members need to answer first: If they remove the amount of time someone has to talk, does that mean limiting the number of people who can speak? Can they keep residents from all saying the same thing about the same topic? 

We'd like to know what you think? Should the board get rid of the time limit for comments? Take our poll.

Jonathan Gerard January 15, 2012 at 03:42 PM
When citizens have something constructive to contribute to EASD policy they ought to do this in committee meetings. At open School Board meetings the Board should welcome the opinion of those who attend but such a meeting is not the time for extended arguments or no business would get done. The work of proposing policy should take place in committees with full Board meetings only for clarifications and votes. Of course such an approach should not be applied dogmatically. The Board should wave the 3 minute rule any time it feels that public input is especially helpful to them before they make a decision.
Ronnie DelBacco January 15, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Being one who appreciates the ability to speak directly to the board, and one who has been timed out, I still think there needs to be a time limit. However, three minutes isn't enough. To get rid of time limits all together would cause marathon board meetings that no one wants. Something along the lines of six minutes would be more fair to the public while still recognizing that the board members have a life too and don't need to be kept there all night. Speaking in the committee meeting setting should also have a time limit for the same reasons. Any citizen, including a long wihded one like me, can surely make his or her case, express a concern, or ask a few questions in six minutes. I say keep the time limits and move ALL public comments to the beginning of the meeting regardless of their relevance to agenda items. This will allow citizens to speak with more time and also allow the board to move through their business after that without having to open the floor a second time during each meeting.

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