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Board takes its time to okay comment period

In addition to tackling the thorny issues of school rezoning and what materials are suitable for school libraries, the Hernando County School Board Tuesday night was asked to add 10 minutes to the end of each meeting for public comment. The board members agreed _ but only after a 10-minute debate.

Members wanted to make sure the public debate could end in less than 10 minutes, in case, as board member Leland McKeown put it, there wasn't 10 minutes worth of comments.

The public discussion period was proposed, but not voted on, several weeks ago. Tuesday, a parent attending the board meeting asked that the proposal be approved. He got his wish.

"The board agrees to hold up to 10 minutes of discussion after the meeting," Chairman Don Hensley declared, adding that if there were any problems, the board would "wing it."

The public comment proposal fared far better than board member Louise Boehme's request that she and her four colleagues support the Teacher of the Year banquet by chipping in equally to sponsor a $350 guest table.

It was important, she said, for School Board members to lead the list of contributors in honoring the district's best teachers at the March 29 event.

After her remarks, there was silence.

"Hello," she piped into the microphone.

Hensley finally said he would be willing to shell out the money "if everybody else is."

School Superintendent Dan McIntyre said he would poll board members later to see who wished to join in the sponsorship.