St. Charles School Board looking at different ways to let constituents speak their mind

The St. Charles School Board is looking at ways to let constituents say what is on their mind besides just at board meetings.

“Along the way, we’ve heard from different constituents that coming to the board doesn’t always work for everybody,” St. Charles School Board President Jillian Barker said at the St. Charles School Board Policy Committee meeting on Monday. “Other districts have other options that have been allowed. For example, it’s put in the notes or put on the website as public comment. There can be write-in public comment and so on. So I wanted to make sure we had a discussion about whether or not we wanted to allow public comment in a different manner, such as in a written manner or a recorded manner.”

Board member Carolyn Waibel said other school districts allow written comments.

“The only concern is adding length to the meeting,” Waibel said. ”So for written communication, they disperse it to the board but don’t publicly read it, because it adds more length to the meeting.”

She noted that recent board meetings have been lengthy because of extensive public comment.

“As it is, many districts are having the same struggle we do, which is that it is very hard to get board business done because of public comment,” she said. It’s very extensive, currently.”

At the same time, Waibel said board members want to hear from their constituents.

“I want to make sure we hear our constituents,” she said. “Obviously, that’s the priority, but we also have business to do at the table. And that’s really important.”

Barker suggested posting public comments could be a good compromise.

“One district does post public comments that are written in on their website with the meeting so that other community members can read them,” she said. “If you are unable to make it to the meeting or you’re ill or whatever, but you still want to make public comment, you have the time frame to submit it before the meeting and allow board members enough time to read it as well.”

School Board members will continue to discuss the issue.

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.