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PW School Board to consider changes to “citizens time” policies

Prince William County School Board is considering revisions to Policy 134, Citizen Participation. According to a news release, “The revisions are intended to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the School Board’s business meetings, while ensuring citizen voice in matters of public concern. The revisions will also assist in moving School Board business earlier in the evening, improving visibility into Board Decision making for the public, including students.” 

Specifically, the policy revisions proposes to increase citizen participation at the start of the meeting from a 30-minute citizen comment period, to a one-hour citizen comment period, at each regularly scheduled School Board business meeting agenda.

To maximize the number of speakers, the proposal is that each citizen would be given two minutes for comments. The current practice is three minutes.

Citizens who wish to speak would need to register in advance of the School Board meeting via a link on the PWCS website or by telephone call to the School Board Clerk, prior to noon on the day of the Board meeting. 

The first 30 minutes would be reserved for topics on the School Board agenda that evening, the news release said, with the remaining time open to any topic. Citizens will also have the opportunity to submit written or video testimony to be shared with all School Board Members.

Language would be added assuring confidentiality of personal contact information provided by speakers to the Clerk in accordance with recent legislative changes to Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Such information is exempt from public disclosure unless the speaker indicates otherwise.

To ensure public safety, provide others with an unimpeded view, and minimize distractions and disorder during meetings, a provision was added to prohibit signage in the Board meeting room, except for approved signage during student presentations.

The School Board will get the proposed policy changes as “information” at its Sept. 1 meeting, A vote on the issue would be scheduled on the School Board’s Sept. 15 agenda.

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