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LETTER: Transparency vs. Secrecy of closed Meetings of School Board

Once again a visit to a school board meeting on Dec. 9…

The new board is in place with only two newly elected trustees and five in by acclamation. In other words five with experience.

It is a beautiful remodelled conference room where the board meets. Quite a change from the old days, and a good change. I might go to more meetings now that it is a warmer room with the new thick carpeting. I especially like the beautiful conference table. I do appreciate seeing my tax dollars at work. 

One of questions I asked Teresa Rezanoff (board chair) is, “are the closed meetings reports being made available to anybody interested.” I was referred back to the agenda which has a brief one line statement referring to closed meetings or in-camera meetings (closed to public) of previous month stating “The board discussed issues personnel issues, properties /facilities, business items, as well as the principles of co-governance.”

This is the standard line on every agenda dealing with closed meetings.  Excuse me that is not what the school act says the board’s responsibility is. Why the secrecy? Is it too much work to do this or is it just plain arrogance that we the people are to stupid to understand what they are doing?

The School Act says a board must prepare a record containing general statement as to the material of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person who make copies and extracts in payment of a fee set by the board. Notice the reference to general nature of decisions.

None of this is available to us the voters, taxpayers, parents etc. Yet they want more public input. Nothing like building a bureaucratic wall of denial. A private club, which we pay for and with whom we entrust the education of our children. 

-- submitted by Val Rich (Grand Forks)