By Curt Yeomans
The residents of Clayton County will get their first chance to address the Board of Education under a new format on Thursday, when the board holds its first public participation meeting.
The meeting represents the first time the public had its own meeting, devoted solely to the public offering feedback and criticism to the board. In the past, public participation was limited to 30 minutes during the board's monthly business meeting.
The board approved a policy revision on July 14, which moved the comment time to a separate meeting which will take place on the first Thursday after the board's monthly work session.
The first public comment meeting will begin at 7 p.m., this Thursday, at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, 2530 Mount Zion Parkway, Jonesboro.
"The decision establishing a meeting dedicated to public comment was made in an effort to give our citizens a greater opportunity to express themselves on issues of concern," said district spokesman Charles White. "Instead of a 30-minute session which restricted the amount of public comment, our citizens now have an entire evening, if needed."
White announced on Tuesday several guidelines for the public comment meetings, including:
· Anyone who wants to speak at the meeting must call the board's secretary at (770) 473-2966 by 4:30 p.m., on Thursday, and the speakers must provide his or her name, address and the issue they wish to address during the meeting. If the speaker represents an organization, or school, he or she must identify that group.
· Each speaker will have three minutes to address the board. The school system asks groups to designate a single spokesperson.
· Speakers are not allowed to address personnel issues, or confidential student affairs during their remarks.
· Speakers can not use abusive language, or engage in personal attacks. The speakers also must adhere to the board's new civility policy.
· Speakers are requested to provide the board with 10 written copies of their comments.
· Board members will not respond to comments, although the chairperson can direct the speaker to a district official for assistance.