School board more accessible

Published 1:12 pm Thursday, July 30, 2015

Prince Edward County’s School Board voted in July to change the start time of 10 regular meetings from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. The move also shifts the public participation time from its longstanding 4 p.m. timeslot to 6 p.m. to accommodate more public input.

We applaud the decision.

Parents and taxpayers have a right to have their voices heard by those who represent them, and the old standby 4 p.m. public comment time limited those opportunities. Those who support their families with a normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday shouldn’t have to take time away from their jobs (and, in some circumstances, lose pay) to bring an issue to the school board.

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School board members could benefit from the change, too; it enhances their opportunity to listen to the parents and community they represent, which should, in turn, make the board more responsive to the will of the people.

Two school board meetings — September and February — will have a 1:30 p.m. start time that will accommodate student recognitions and presentations while the children are still in school. The reality is that many are unable to return to an evening school board meeting. Some would make it, but many would not.

While we appreciate the school board’s making public participation in its meetings more convenient, members may find that two meetings that incorporate students are not enough. Should the school board find that to be the case, we suggest it make other arrangements — perhaps periodically holding special events at each of the schools.