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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 13, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Bill Talking about disgraceful. It was a disgrace that Ms Waldron, Ms Knox, Ms McEnroy and Ms Plourde voted to reduce the public speaking time from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. Did anyone notice if any of the teachers or the STA president clapped after Gabby spoke about the attack.
Bill January 13, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Yes, they clapped and they all stood up as well... As far as changing the time, i recall all of them giving their rationale for changing it.. I recall Joanne saying that she polled several surrounding districts and most of them had 3 minutes or under. What i find is a Joke is what Pam had to say after. She said that she does not care what other districts do. How funny is that I remember her waving the Northport power point up at every meeting and demanding Smithtown does something like that or just copy it. I thought she didn't care what other districts do??? That was a poor comment...
scsddad January 14, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I guess since other school district teachers unions are excepting wage freezes and givebacks Joanne must be in favor of that for the STA
scsddad January 14, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Bill It sounds like you don't like anyone that questions anything about the STA contract talks. It also sound like you or a family member belongs to the STA
Taxed Out January 14, 2012 at 12:20 AM
In some cases 3 minutes does seem a little short but the majority of those that speak will be able to complete in time. For those that need more time they need to be a little creative and have multiple people sign up and have scripts broken up into 3 minute segments to get their point across. I agree with Smithtown Mom of 3 about the bickering that really needs to stop.
Bill January 14, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Do you happen to have any inside info on that she is not in favor of that notion? That statement is a lame one SCSDDAD..
Bill January 14, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Scsddad I never said that I do not like anyone that questions contract talks. I feel that the district and the STA should come together on a contract that is fair to both sides. I feel that it is important to attend meetings and get information first hand. I am a CPA who is tired of listening to the same 5 people complain...
One Opinion January 14, 2012 at 12:44 AM
@Bill It sounds like you are very happy with the situation regarding the school district. That's good and I envy you. However, many of us are not happy with what has been going on the past few years. I will not tolerate an automatic 2% tax increase every year just to satisfy unsustainable salary increases. I cannot sit and watch outspoken BOE members be systematically targeted and voted off. I am disgusted that this administration is automatically budgeting a 2% tax increase without any mention of union concessions. I certainly do not want to see anyone loose there jobs. Teachers are our neighbors, friends and community members. But if class sizes need to go up again, programs are cut and a few hundred teachers get pink slips, then maybe the STA will make some sacrafices and not just the taxpayers. So I am glad things are OK with you and I am sure we will all continue these debates for many months to come.
scsddad January 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM
robkoz The board members are 1. Gladys Waldron 2. Terri Knox, they were bd members when the STA got the large contracts and your taxes went up 8% or 9% 3.Joanne McEnroy former teacher and STA EMPLOYEE 4.Grace Plourde 5.Chris Alcure a new member 6. Joe Saggese 7.Lou Liguori, Joe and Lou fights to keep tax increases low as possible.
One Opinion January 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM
http://www.smithtown.k12.ny.us/pages/SmithtownCSD/Documents/Board_of_Education/Board_Members
Pam January 14, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Oh Bill you have so much to learn.. Hope 2012 is an enlightening one for you.
Bob January 14, 2012 at 01:02 AM
@scsddad--I watched the teachers stand up and clap after she spoke, including the STA president. Why would you even make such a ridiculous statement. So now the teachers don't care about the safety of the students???? @Bill--great point about Pam not caring about what other districts do.
Bill January 14, 2012 at 01:03 AM
one opinion, I am not happy I am a taxpayer and pay over 10,000. The STA is not to blame for that... I feel Albany is the problem. do you have any inside information that the union is not interested in givebacks. I have not read or heard that, please let me know... I did hear from the supt at last meeting that they are talking again.. hopefully something can get done
Pam January 14, 2012 at 01:06 AM
@ Bill transparancy does matter. Furthermore there are over 124 school districts on LI, and over 700 statewide, she only researched 16, not a very high percentage. Because I have been looking into many many more districts throughout NY and she is way off the mark. So please don't assume it's a joke, educate yourself instead. And why should we not use the data that is out there to see where and how we fit into the problem. I know Smithtown could have assembled one themselves, but in hopes of the district not spending too many man hours on this I thought it to be prudent to follow Northports outline--not their exact data. Don't worry after all these years I really could care less what you think.
scsddad January 14, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Bob I didn't make a statement I asked a question, I guess you can't tell the difference. I asked because the administration and board members didn't stand up and clap so I wondered if the teachers did,
scsddad January 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Bill What reason did Ms Waldron and Ms Knox give for changing the time
One Opinion January 14, 2012 at 01:57 AM
@Bill Tell me how a school district can sustain a budget that currently pays 85% of employee healthcare costs and those cost rise 8-10% annually. Pays 3.8% step increases plus 4% raises on top of that. This not a business where the district can increase it's sales production and bring in more revenue. There is only so much money and the revenue sources from the state are diminishing. So were does the money come from? The taxpayers. Albany is a problem I agree. The NYS Retirement System needs to be revised for everyone, not just teachers. The Triborogh Amendment must be abolished. It gives the unions the upperhand with no incentive to negotiate. Bottom line, my taxes have doubled in less than ten years as have the contractual obligations of this district. Not a coincidence.
Pam January 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
So reply to my comments-you all are too much- gotta love it though. Ah weekend plans with the kids are calling. Be Well.
Pam January 14, 2012 at 03:15 AM
@ one opinion my NYSUT parents agree the costs have gone up expotentially. The legislature is not doing it's job 2+2=4 for those of us that pay the costs, but those that rule think 2+2=5. That is the mentality in Albany. I encourage anyone that can to go to Albany on the 23rd of January and see all that happens when education funding is discussed. I can assure you it is eye opening.
SusiQ January 14, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I have the perfect solution. If you cannot convey all that needs to be said within the three minute time constraint, you need to do a bit of planning. Work with a cohort to plan out your presentation. Person one addresses the most essential part of your concern. Person two follows up with whatever else needs to be said. Now, instead of five minutes, you have gained an additional minute to express your concerns. 3+3 = 6....Problem solved!
SusiQ January 14, 2012 at 12:28 PM
One additional note...Do that many people really go to the Board of Ed meetings on a regular basis that a time contraint is needed?
Pam January 15, 2012 at 01:47 PM
@Sue when there is no contentious issues there are normally 1-4 speakers, however last year between the busing issue and building closing issues we had quite a few community participants that wanted to speak. We even have many meetings where no one signs up to speak. All of the speakers can be found by going back and reading the minutes (posted online) there it shows who spoke and what their concerns/ comments were related to. If you go back to even 3 or 4 years ago you will find generally they had to listen to 3-4 speakers on a normal night and most of us that speak regularly don't use up our five minutes on a regular basis.
maurice larrea January 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Bob, how do you equate the private sector with the public sector? That's a ridiculous analogy. My taxes don't pay for anything in the private sector,and their board members aren't elected by the taxpayer. The STA endorsed McEnroy and Ploude for there own agenda, essentially allowing the "pigs to be in charge of the trough" ( I am not calling anyone a pig, it's just a figure of speech). "One opinion", I couldn't have said it better myself. The Triborough Amendment is a disgrace, and it should be abolished. To blame Albany only, is a cop out, we are victims of "good ole boy" politics. When the economy was good, we wrote blank checks for teacher raises, and had wink and nod contract agreements. People are leaving Long Island in droves, young families can't afford to live here and not just because the house prices, but the exhorbitant property taxes that continue to rise.
maurice larrea January 15, 2012 at 07:37 PM
The closing of schools is inevitable, enrollment is down and we can't sustain or justify keeping under populated schools open. They just closed 2 schools in West Islip and apparently, this will be the trend in other school districts because of lack of enrollment. This, of course, will cause an uproar, not only because this will cause job losses, but because parents will become territorial and the question will be "why my school?" The board will have to answer numerous questions and hear numerous complaints, So, limiting speaking times to 3 minutes, really isn't unreasonable.
SusiQ January 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Thanks for the clarification. I've only been to the board meetings a handful of times over the past several years. (Meet the candidates, housing issues, budget cuts)
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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