Urbana school board to clarify policy on discussing stance on issues

Urbana school board to clarify policy on discussing stance on issues

URBANA — The school board will discuss Tuesday some changes in wording to what has been a somewhat controversial policy it approved in June.

The policy lays out expectations for board members on what can be communicated before, during and after meetings.

The school board will discuss the policy at 7:30 p.m. at the Jean F. Burkholder Administrative Service Center, 205 N. Race St., U, at its regular business meeting.

After the policy was approved in June, a News-Gazette editorial scrutinized it, as did several Urbana residents.

"The intent of the policy is not being changed, but the intent was misinterpreted," school board President John Dimit said Monday. "We are adding additional language to clarify the intent."

The original policy stated that "board members should be cautious in speaking to constituents regarding their stance on an issue as it has not been presented to the full board," and allow the administration to provide information to the public about issues before board meetings.

Dimit said the policy doesn't change how the school board has operated since he joined more than 20 years ago, except in its stance on electronic communications.

"The intent is to make sure we don't inappropriately use electronic communications that could potentially violate the Open Meetings Act," he said.

The board got a first look at possible revisions at its study session earlier this month. They were suggested by the school district's lawyer, who reviewed the policy after it passed.

Tuesday night's meeting will mark the first reading of the revised policy, and the school board may approve revisions at its Oct. 2 meeting, according to the school board agenda. You can see a draft of the revised policy on the school district's website at http://tinyurl.com/USBpolicy2-82.

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