Archived Story

School board aims for transparency

Published 8:26pm Monday, February 18, 2013

Tuesday night’s monthly Beaufort County Board of Education meeting will not exactly be business as usual.
During committee meetings held earlier this month, the board’s new chairwoman, Cindy Winstead, discussed a change she plans to implement.
“We’ve always utilized a consent agenda. I would like to stop,” she said during the personnel and curriculum committee meeting earlier this month. “How we currently do it is we vote on it during the committee, and then its never discussed in the meeting its placed on the agenda.”
Rather than supply members with a list of actions from the committee and have them approve minutes to meetings they may or may not have attended, Winstead said, each committee would present a summary of its meetings and a list of motions at the start of the monthly board meeting.
“That way the whole board would have the opportunity to ask questions, be more involved. And it would just be more open for everybody to see what’s going on,” she said. “I’ve thought about it for some time.”
The minutes would be approved in committee and the during the board’s month’s meeting the following month.
Board member Mike Isbell said he really liked the idea, but expressed concern for the length of the meeting.
Board member Eltha Booth is concerned that meetings would be lengthened. She disagreed that the proposed change would elicit
more discussion amongst the board.
“Even if a report comes forth and nobody says anything about it, it’s the same as when the agenda comes up and nobody says anything about it. I think if we go about it, we’d be all night long at the meeting,” she said.
Winstead disagreed. She said the change would not take much time. Committee chairmen would determine who presents the reports. Whoever presented it would make the motion for approval of any actions.
“I’ll just say two things,” said former Chairman Mac Hodges. “First of all, we’ve got minutes mailed. Second of all, if you’ve got a question, you know everyone on the committees — just pick up the phone and ask them.”
Beaufort County Schools Superintendent Don Phipps supported Winstead’s plan, saying it
would make the board’s actions more transparent to the
public.
Isbell agreed, saying, “I know this would improve public perception, if nothing else.”

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