How to Better Manage Public Comment in School Board Meetings

Managing public comment in school board meetings can be difficult, and it must be handled well to foster trust within the community. This blog outlines some ways you can improve your management of public comment management.

Clear Guidelines

The foundation of effective public comment management is the establishment of clear guidelines. Key components include:

Time Limits: Specify a maximum time for each speaker (typically 2-3 minutes).

Sign-up Process: Create an organized sign-up process, potentially facilitated through a meeting management system, that allows participants to request speaking slots in advance.

Content Focus: Ensure comments are relevant to the meeting agenda.

Respectful Behavior: Emphasize the importance of civil discourse.

Non-Duplication: Avoid redundancy by requesting unique comments.

Furthermore, the use of a meeting management system can aid in informing the public of their speaking order and allocated time slots, thereby reducing uncertainty and ensuring a smoother process.

Jefferson County, TN Uses OpenMeeting Meeting Management System with electronic voting and discussion management for board meetings.

Utilizing a meeting display for school board meetings helps to keep public comment organized and orderly, and it helps to avoid awkward situations where you have to cut off a speaker.

Strategic Time Allocation

Efficient time management is critical to maintaining the flow of school board meetings. Consider these strategies:

Time Slots: Dedicate a specific portion of the meeting for public comments (e.g., the first 30 minutes or the end of the meeting). Use a voting display, also called a meeting display, to show when it’s time for public comment and the order of speakers.

Agenda Placement: Prioritize high-interest topics at the beginning to ensure maximum participation.

Moderation: Use a meeting management system with a public speaker timer feature to enforce time limits without having to interrupt the speaker.

This approach not only respects participants’ time but also allows for an efficient meeting.

Effective public comment management at school board meetings is crucial for transparency and community engagement. By establishing clear guidelines and strategically allocating time with a meeting display, school boards can create an efficient, inclusive, and technology-driven environment that benefits all stakeholders in the education system. This modern approach enhances accessibility, efficiency, and the overall quality of public participation.

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