School trustees to consider silencing public at meetings
Calgary trustees are set to consider on Tuesday night whether the public should continue to have the right to speak at public school board meetings.
The motion — drawn up by trustees Joy Bowen-Eyre, Pamela King and board chair Pat Cochrane — also seeks to restrict questions from trustees at meetings.
The changes would make meetings more efficient, they argue . A report released recently concluded the current process for public input allows misinformation to be presented and doesn't foster two-way conversations. But the idea of muzzling the public and trustees doesn't sit well with trustee Sheila Taylor.
"I think we need to be open to questions we need to be open to questions from trustees. We need to be open to questions from the public and we really need to think outside the box to make sure that we are doing the best to serve the students and citizens of Calgary," she said.
Larry Leach, an advocate with the Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Calgary Schools, also criticized the proposal.
"It's just yet another way the public can't be engaged in the process and they seem to be pulling away a lot of opportunities for the public to get involved," he said.
Leach said even though few parents ever take advantage of the chance to speak at the meetings, they should be allowed to do so.
Alberta's education minister had not heard about the proposed motion when he was in Calgary Monday to talk about education funding. But Thomas Lukaszuk said the board trustees must realize the public decides whether they keep their jobs.
"I have full confidence that the common sense of trustees will always prevail. The trustees are very much aware of the fact, as I am, that we are here at the pleasure of the electorate," he said.