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Monday, May 10, 2010

BOE venue for tomorrow would likely exclude public

Will the public be excluded?

It just seems to be one thing after another with Plainfield's Board of Ed.

Now it's the venue for Tuesday's meeting -- the Conference Room at Plainfield High School.

As anyone who's been in this room knows, it is limited to perhaps 30 or so occupants (which includes the Board and its associated staff, attorneys, etc.).

Given the intense public interest in Board meetings, and the possibility that the failed move to suspend Dr. Gallon last Friday may be addressed tomorrow, it would be a travesty if the meeting were not moved to a larger room (like, say, the PHS Library).

The agenda for the work/study meeting notes that 'action may be taken' and contains the following language about the executive session topics (the complete agenda is online here) --
1 matters rendered confidential by federal or state law

2. pending or anticipated litigation or contract negotiations and/or matters of attorney-client privilege

3. specific prospective or current employees unless all who could be adversely affected requested an open session
These three items sort of cover the bases, but could include the PEA contract, and the suspension of Gallon and Kemp and the removal of Kemp from the payroll (item 3 appears to refer to the so-called 'Rice notice').

Left up in the air is whether there will be discussion on appointing a new Board attorney, the subject of the resolution left out,
embarrassingly, for the public on Friday.

Perhaps unnoticed because of all the hubbub concerning the calamitous situation in which the Board finds itself is a not-so-subtle change in the venue of Board meetings --

Dr. Gallon preferred having Board of Ed meetings
at the out-of-the-way Administration Building
(the former Jefferson School) on Myrtle Avenue,
as in this example from April 13.

Evidently, new Board President Lisa Logan-Leach prefers having the board's meetings in the centrally located Plainfied High School -- a move which makes a great deal of sense to me.

Except that it should be fine-tuned.

On the one hand, given the public interest in -- and attendance at -- the Board's non-business (committee and work/study) meetings, the High School Conference Room is just TOO SMALL, unless the point is to EXCLUDE THE PUBLIC. I hope it is just an oversight.

On the other hand, using the High School auditorium for business meetings is overkill in the oposite direction.

Having the Board up on the stage makes them much more remote from the public, and having the public -- at even the largest recents meetings there haven't been more than 300, if even -- assemble in a space designed for 1,300 would have the effect of diluting their impact.

Under its new President, Lisa Logan-Leach,
Board meetings have been shifted to Plainfield High School

The Goldilocks solution, it seems to me, would be to use the PHS Library -- just like the good old days.

It is flexible enough to accommodate large numbers, but is also intimate enough for those meetings which may not be heavily attended.

A little thing, but Plainfield could use a fairytale solution to at least one of its problems right about now.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thom said...

I hate being the pessimist but are we going to see more of the same?

Dottie Gutenkauf said...

In previous years when the conference room wasn't big enough to hold the public, the meeting was moved up to the PHS library. That makes sense. Moving every meeting out to Jefferson School didn't make sense if public participation was wanted, which apparently it wasn't at the time. Moving the meetings to other venues is a very positive step.