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Opinion

Rules of order

SoVaNow.com / August 27, 2014

Dear Viewpoint:

In order for any professional organization to accomplish business, protocols and procedures are necessary to run an effective meeting. Mecklenburg County Public Schools use Robert’s Rules of Order as an established parliamentary procedure so that all members can be heard in an orderly environment. As board members, we have all been through the training provided by the Virginia School Boards Association. In the training sessions, they clearly outlined our roles and responsibilities.

Our school board chairman went for additional training at the National School Boards Association conference and attended another session with our attorney for training in Robert’s Rules of Order. After the training, our chairman decided to remove board member remarks from the agenda. He fully explained this to all board members, and the majority agreed that they should follow the suggestions received during the training. At our monthly August board meeting, a board member asked to add something to the approved agenda after closed session, breaking procedure. This should have been added during the adoption of the agenda.

As Board members, we have the opportunity to address issues during all reports given by the administrative team and during discussion time for all action items. We also have the opportunity to contact the chair about any items we would like to have added to the agenda for discussion prior to the next month’s agenda being published. As explained in training, this is why there is no need for board member comments. This is done so that all members can have the opportunity to prepare and have time to research about the topics on the agenda in order to give a well-educated response.

At our recent board meeting, citizens were concerned when a board member was called out of order when he wanted to speak during public comment as a citizen. Certainly, it is the right of a citizen to voice opinions and share during public comment, but for a board member, it is out of order. The board member was aware he would be called out of order prior to the attempt to make public comment. It is unfortunate that this event occurred. As a board we must work together and follow the protocols that have been put in place to run an effective and productive meeting.

When we, as a board cannot work together to resolve our differences this causes distractions and takes away from the education of our children and the focus of building new schools. We must all follow the protocols of our meetings as well as the advice of our attorney and work with fellow board members to solve the problem of old outdated facilities that continue to plague us.

Thomas Bullock
Vice Chairman
Mecklenburg County School Board

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