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Board of Education Vote Reduces Public Speaking

Policy change will reduce public speaking at regular board meetings from five minutes to three minutes per speaker.

Community members looking to speak at Board of Education meetings for the Smithtown Central School District will now have less time to do so as the board adopted a policy change reducing speaking time from five minutes to three.

The vote was approved four votes in favor to three votes in opposition.

Board President Gladys Waldron, Vice President Theresa Knox and members Joanne McEnroy and Grace Plourde voted in favor of the change. Members Joseph Saggese, Louis Liguori and Christopher Alcure voted in opposition.

“This constricts the voice of the community,” Saggese said prior to the vote. “It has very detrimental effects in really censoring the community.”

“It’s difficult enough for people to come to the podium and express themselves within the five minute restraints … I’m not here to clock-watch the community,” added Liguori. 

McEnroy said prior to the meeting she performed her own research on the time permitted for the community to speak at neighboring districts and found of the 16 districts she polled, a majority permit less than five minutes to speak, some allowing as low as two minutes per speaker.

“This policy is not suggesting something that is out of line with the surrounding communities,” she said. 

Plourde said she fears five minutes per speaker does not allow all parents to speak, some of which have to leave meetings early to get their kids ready for school the next day.

“I’m concerned that in the middle of a bunch of people speaking on the same topic there may be people towards the end of the list who never get up there to speak about something else and I’m afraid we’re shutting that portion down,” she said. 

Community members who signed up to speak at the meeting immediately blasted the decision to change the minutes.

“For nine years it’s been five minutes, even when we were opening two high schools it was five minutes, it was five minutes back at High School West – no issues. Now all of a sudden we have BOCES pensioners on the board, we’ve got STA pensioners on the board, and it’s three minutes,” said frequent speaker at board meetings Pam Farino.

scsddad January 15, 2012 at 09:20 PM
.The problem is most of the board don't want to hear the questions or the complaints
scsddad January 15, 2012 at 09:42 PM
I agree with you. Also in the private sector you have to earn your pay raise you don't get them for just showing up and if you don't work up to standards you can be terminated.
SusiQ January 15, 2012 at 09:56 PM
If you do your homework, you will discover that Joanne McEnroy is not the only person sitting on the board with a background in education. There are a least two others. They continually get voted in because parent community members want people who put the education of children first. They would rather pay an increase in taxes then see a cut in educational programs. Unfortunately, thanks to the doings of our fine governor, we will be in a big mess next school year: slashed programs, a school closing, larger class sizes, and higher taxes. No one wins here!
maurice larrea January 16, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Sue, either your a teacher or you print your own money. There has to be some sort of fiscal responsibility, I am not a fan of Cuomo, but these uncontrolled tax increases have got to be put in check. I am not here to vilify teachers, but here in Long Island we have the highest paid teachers in the country. Why do the kids have to suffer? Drive into any faculty parking lot and it looks like a high end foreign car dealership. Ask anyone in the private sector how they have done in the prior 2 years. Have they had raises? Have they had there pensions guaranteed for life? Is there job protected even if they do a crappy job? There is no tenure in the private sector. Again, I am not trying to vilify anyone, well maybe the ridiculous superintendent salaries, 126 school districts in L.I. Multiply an average 240K. Wow! And that doesn't include assistant superintendents. So before you sound the alarm about the kids suffering, look at the waste and the people who aren't suffering.
One Opinion January 16, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Ms McEnroy's vote is a bit ironic when going back and reading this profile on the The Patch back when she was running for office: http://smithtown.patch.com/articles/profile-mcenroy-wants-more-community-input-on-important-decisions

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