Palliser adding Citizens’ Forums to regular board of trustee meetings

By Schnarr, J.W. on September 30, 2017.

J.W. Schnarr

Lethbridge Herald

jwschnarr@lethbridgeherald.com

Palliser Regional Schools is adding a “Citizens’ Forum” to regular board meetings in order to provide the public with an opportunity to address the board of trustees directly.

The idea came out of Palliser’s organizational review as a way to improve communication between the board and the community it serves.

“The idea is that individuals could raise issues or ask questions, or address the board however they wish,” said board chair Robert Strauss during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

He noted the board would have to decide on rules of conduct for the forum.

“I would think if it was going to be a long presentation, 20 or 30 minutes, something like that, we should still ask that it be booked on the agenda. But if it’s only going to be five or 10 minutes, people should be able to do that.”

Strauss also noted that while residents would be welcome to come forward to discuss an issue, it did not mean the board would be in a position to respond to that issue – particularly if it was a new issue.

“If they bring forward an issue that they haven’t been advised of, we may just be in a position to be listening at that meeting,” he said. “We may not be in a position to address their concern.

“But certainly, there would be follow-up.”

For topics the board would normally discuss in closed session, including land, legal and labour issues, trustees would be unable to respond directly.

During discussion, it was also suggested the Citizens’ Forum time could be used by the Alberta Teachers Association or the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Strauss said it would be worth bringing the idea up with both organizations, but suggested they might be interested in a more formal setting when speaking with the board.

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