School board debates closing all meetings to public

Emma Rose Olsen, Copy Editor and Social Media Manager

The WSFCS School Board has now decided to reduce their meeting times from two to one time a month. Additionally, as they decided to allow the public to only be apart of the meeting for one hour instead of the original two. This has caused a great deal of controversy throughout the state.

This new rule was approved on Tuesday, Dec. 17 by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. 

As of now, board meetings are on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month. The public was allowed to attend both of these meetings for the entire time. However, these rules have changed.

Under this new policy, the second Tuesday will be a work session that only consists of committee members. The curriculum and school grounds agendas will be discussed during these meetings. No public will be allowed at these meetings. 

There is much opposition to this new change because they believe that the public should not be cut off from what the school board is discussing. It can be seen as if they are trying to keep things from the public which could potentially hurt the children in the school system. 

“This upsets me,” said Parent Teacher Association President at Reagan, Tammy Darden. “As an active parent in our system, I have access to information that now parents who do not have time to volunteer in the schools will no longer have. If the school board meetings are closed then how are parents supposed to know what is wrong or good with bad?”

But these changes are not going unnoticed. Many school board members are fighting for the public’s right to attend the meetings.

Barbara Burke, board member also disagrees with this policy change. Burke wants to provide the public with more time to comment on the change before the voting occurs in order to ultimately change it. 

“What we tell the public matters and we need to be transparent,” Burke said. 

At a meeting on Dec. 10, she brought up the issue of getting more public input, extending the usual comment period from seven to 30 days. During the meeting on Tuesday, she expressed some frustration that her desire to more public input was not being fulfilled by the school system’s staff. 

After the meeting, Burke added on the subject by stating that she is not opposed to changing the meetings to one time a week, but she voted to give the public more time to consider the new schedule. 

Board member, Andrea Bramer stood by Burke’s side to vote against the new changes. Even though the public is being limited to the meetings the school board stated that they will continue to listen to the public about the new meeting schedule. They are open to changes if the new rules do not work out. 

Based on the new policy, the first work session will be on Jan. 14 and the first school board meeting will convene on Jan. 28.