DeKALB – The DeKalb School District 428 board is considering eliminating one of its monthly meetings and moving the board schedule to a single meeting per month.
During the school board meeting Tuesday, Board President Sarah Moses raised the topic of moving from twice a month, the first and third Tuesdays of every month, to once a month.
Moses said that her reasoning behind the idea was to “free up the superintendent and cabinet more to do the work they need to do in the district.”
“Right now, particularly at this time when there are so many high needs in the district, and Minerva and the cabinet have to spend a lot of time preparing for board meetings and getting everything together,” Moses said.
Currently, the DeKalb school board meetings twice monthly, with opportunities at the start of each meeting for members of the public and school district to bring forward concerns or comments to the body. Board member Jeromy Olson said he would be in favor of the change, and said he think one monthly meeting is more common.
School board member Samantha McDavid questioned whether the change of meeting frequency would impact opportunities for the board to debate votes prior to a formal vote.
McDavid also brought forward her concern about transparency for the community, “so they are aware of something before we are acting on it.”
Superintendent Minerva Garcia-Sanchez said information on a meeting agenda could be sent out earlier than the Thursday or Friday before the meeting, as is the current process.
Moses proposed that the DeKalb school board compare how other Illinois school districts release agenda information in relation with a scheduled meeting. Garcia-Sanchez suggested additional meetings could be called as necessary for school board action and discussion related to finances or facility operations.
“We might have to have special meetings at that time,” Garcia-Sanchez said.
Moses said DeKalb should compare how other school districts which meet monthly release agenda information in relation to a scheduled meeting.
“That way, the community has time to look at it, and if there are issues, they can email us, they can obviously attend the board meeting and share their concerns, they can communicate that way,” Moses said.
According to the Illinois Open Meetings Act, agendas must be posted publicly at least 48 hours prior to a public body’s meeting. District 428 agendas usually are released on Fridays ahead of a regular Tuesday meeting, as are Sycamore School District 427′s and Genoa-Kingston School District 424′s. Both Sycamore and Genoa-Kingston school boards meet twice monthly.
Olson said that presenters during the meetings might have to prepare more in advance and that meetings might run a little longer because of being only held once a month.
“I don’t think we necessarily have to have two meetings in order to do it,” he said. “I’ve been attending monthly board meetings forever, and it always seems to work out. You just have to be a month ahead of time on stuff you want to get out. It’s just a different cadence we’ll have to adopt.”
If the once monthly meeting schedule is not adopted, Garcia-Sanchez said that continuing with two meetings per month “wouldn’t be a problem.”
“It takes time and processing to be able to do that, and we want to make sure we give the best information you have, what you need for meetings, but it feels like once we’re done with the meeting, we’re into the next session of the meeting,” she said. “We want to build up enough of the data and share.”
She also said, “If it doesn’t work, we can return to two meetings per month.”
Board Member Dayci Ramirez said that when meetings are longer, 45 minutes to an hour, “it can take days, up to two weeks, of just preparation to get the ball rolling for that meeting.”
David Seymour asked how long a once monthly meeting schedule might last before a long-term decision on board schedules is determined. Ramirez proposed adopting the once monthly meeting January through the start of the 2022-23 school year in August.
The topic will be discussed and voted upon during the next school board meeting, which will be held 7 p.m. Nov. 4., rescheduled from Nov. 7 because of conflicts.