Long Duration, Open, School Board Chat Meetings

Brian Gale // 10-19-2022

We should have a chat room, where the school board can openly consider every item on the agenda well in advance of each meeting.

The state of Nevada recognizes two elements that constitute any public meeting. Action, and Deliberation towards an action. Action is when a vote is taken and policy or a decision becomes final. Deliberation is when decisions are considered, discussed, and debated. By far the greatest portion of any meeting of thoughtful officials will be the deliberation.

Deliberation is such an important part of good governance that the rules by which meetings are held, Robert’s Rules of Order requires that 2/3 of voting participants agree to end debate. As an aside, this is where a huge portion of the unique power of the US Senate comes from. A filibuster is when just over 1/3 of the members don’t want to take a vote, presumably because they know it won’t go their way, and so they continue debating, even for days, to avoid the vote. The filibuster is an important safeguard to protect the rights of the minority.

One large obstacle to extensive, thoughtful debate on the school board, is the volume of material that needs to be addressed. In order to appropriately address some of the issues presented to the board, sometimes the meetings last well into the night. That becomes a problem, because a seat on the school board is by no means a full-time position, each member has other commitments, that they shouldn’t have to sacrifice to serve in this necessary public capacity.

Happily, we now live in a marvelous age of digital communication. There can exist a method that will allow the board to openly discuss any and all important issues brought before it.

I propose that we establish an open, public, digital forum, for school board deliberation.

Now, what this will look like, is an Internet chat room, where issues that the school board faces will be debated for weeks, or even months, before the actual physical open meeting takes place. The deliberation chat room will be open to the entire world to see, and registered viewers may participate in a public comments section. No action will ever be taken in one of these online deliberation meetings. This will ensure that all important decisions taken by the board will have a thorough, extensive, open discussion, so the board is perfectly prepared to take the best possible action in regularly scheduled open meetings.

From my reading of the Nevada revised statutes, there’s no reason why this type of open public chat room for deliberation, cannot take place. See NRS chapter 241 here.

Who will oppose this type of forum?

  1. People who like the results our schools are currently giving us.
  2. People who oppose thoughtful deliberation.
  3. People who oppose transparency.
  4. People who fear things won’t proceed according to their plan.
  5. People who don’t trust the school board to be able to thoughtfully deliberate.
  6. People who just oppose everything, because it’s so fun to stir up anger and discontent.

My answer to all of these people is, “Let’s give it a try. You’re probably right, and it probably won’t work, but at least we could be the first school district in the nation to try it. And if it does make things better, what did it cost us to make this improvement? Nothing, we already have every resource necessary to implement this little change.”

This open, public school board deliberation chat room, will vastly improve our decision making process, and infinitely expand public participation.

Have any thoughts?

Share them with me here.

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