BCSD votes on changes to public participation

  • Wednesday, October 2, 2013

After meeting at Sangaree Middle School two weeks ago, the Berkeley County School Board returned to the district office in Moncks Corner for its Sept. 24 meeting. MICHAEL QUIRK/INDEPENDENT

Three rule changes regarding public participation in school board meetings were approved last week.
The Berkeley County School Board met in regular session on Sept. 24 in Moncks Corner.
Citizens speaking at board meetings will still be limited to three minutes, according to the new rule, but the board has doubled the time allotted for public comment from 15 minutes to 30.
The new rules state that if more time is needed it is at the board chairman’s discretion whether it will be granted or not; the discretion is not to be based on the speaker’s viewpoint.
In the old rules, speakers could not complain about any employees and the comments were restricted to be issue-oriented. A new exception was added that allows speakers to speak regarding district-level executives.
“These are just minor changes,” said school board chairman Kent Murray. “But it gives the public opportunities to praise or criticize employees.”
One change to the complaints policy was approved as well.
Citizens submitting a written complaint to the board will not provided an opportunity to appear before the board. An exception to that has been made in cases when the complaint centers on a matter of public concern.
In those cases, the person making the complaint may be allowed to speak publicly before the board after exhausting other administrative procedures.
In other business, the district’s Instruction Focus Areas I and II were introduced to board members.
The system is in place for two reasons: supporting teachers and infusing technology, according to Chief Academic Office Kevin O’Gorman. He said the teachers will be provided an easily accessible research-based curriculum. The infused technology includes Edmodo, an online platform designed for education that teachers and students can use for a variety of instructional strategies.
“Dr. O’Gorman has given us teachers a good base to launch from,” said 2012 BCSD Teacher of the Year and Cane Bay High School teacher Michael Petry. “He’s built a solid foundation for us.”
Superintendent Rodney Thompson announced that the district has refunded the 2003 revenue purchase installment bonds, including a debt reserve fund. The district was able to terminate the debt service reserve fund that combined with the interest reduction was able to save the district $27 million. 

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