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School Board to decide rules for public comment

Hernando School Board members will decide today how to design their meetings to allow public comment, while restraining public discord.

At a 2:30 p.m. workshop, then later at the 3 p.m. board meeting, the school officials will review the meeting rules used by other public agencies. They also will discuss whether to hold public forums _ separate from the regular School Board meetings _ to allow citizens a chance to discuss their concerns with board members.

Today's workshop was prompted by the negative reaction to new rules of conduct established two weeks ago by board chairman Paul Clemons.

Clemons, in an effort to control sometimes rowdy meetings, announced that citizens could not comment on issues being debated by the board until the public comment period at the end of the meeting.

Clemons also said that if anyone made discourteous remarks during the comment period, he would adjourn the meeting.

"The workshop will give us time to discuss how we want the meetings run, as far as the public input," Board member Nancy Gordon said Monday. "Then the discussion will be continued at the meeting, so we can make a decision" on the rules of conduct.

Ms. Gordon said she had heard positive comment about her proposal to hold public forums separate from board meetings. She also liked the meeting rules in force in Pinellas County, where citizens may address the School Board before the board votes on an issue.

"I think we need to have something that limits the amount of time a citizen may spend on an issue and the number of times a citizen can speak," she said. "We'll put these ideas forward and the rest is up to what the members want."

The School Board meeting is at 3 p.m. today, but will be broadcast on Ch. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

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