Some Bend La-Pine School Board meetings have become so unruly that school board members have paused meetings to give people time to cool down.
What children are taught, remote learning, pandemic restrictions ... those are just some of the issues that can get parents riled up.
But make no mistake. There is no excuse for shouting, catcalling, booing, hissing or demeaning school board members. Meetings must be able to proceed in an orderly way. When people start shouting and talking over others, nobody is going to convince anybody else of much of anything, anyway.
The Bend-La Pine School Board is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on a new policy for who gets to speak at school board meetings. It is not going to solve the problem of disruptions. It is aimed at allowing more and different voices to be heard.
People will no longer be called to speak in the order in which they signed up. Instead, the proposal is that speakers would be prioritized in this order: Bend-La Pine students, residents of the district and those who have not been heard from in the previous two business meetings of the board.
Speakers get two minutes. That would not change. The board says it will now “typically” allow 10 minutes of comments on the same agenda item and up to 10 minutes on items that are not on the agenda. The only change there is the insertion of “typically.” And one other change is that the board will allow a maximum of 45 minutes of public comment during a meeting.
Those aren’t bad changes. They might, though, limit the ability of a powerful, knowledgeable speaker from being able to speak repeatedly meeting after meeting, diminishing that person’s influence. Public speaking is a skill. And some people are better leaders and speakers than others. In the end the policy change may blunt some leaders in favor of giving more people the opportunity to speak about what the board should do.
Do you think this is a change the school board should make? You can let them know at firstname.lastname@example.org