CEDAR LAKE | If the way in which the Hanover School Board hears comments from the public is to be changed, the matter will require an internal review first, trustees have decided.
The board is considering a recommendation from one of its members, Dennis Wilkening, to allow residents to speak off topic and address issues even if they haven’t signed in first.
Board rules now require audience members to sign in prior to the meeting and address topics only on the board’s agenda.
Wilkening said opportunities to speak should be less stringent, allowing audience members more latitude in when they can address the board and on what topic.
“I agree, it should be (more) open,” board member Julie Bowen said.
Allowing audience members to comment on any topic “could take a little longer,” Wilkening said.
To address that issue, he also suggested that if several audience members want to speak on the same topic, a time limit could be enforced.
Current rules regarding public comment are in place in part because of the nature of school board meetings, board President James Sakelaris said.
He said a school board meeting is not a public meeting in the way that municipal meetings are. Rather, it is a business meeting conducted publicly, which residents can attend, he said.
Board member Mary Pat Burkel said she would prefer district officials and the district’s attorney review the situation first, before Hanover makes any changes.
The matter may also be discussed at a future executive session.
If the board decides to make a change in its public comment policy, it likely will receive a vote a future meeting.