Header won’t jump

Massena Central School Board member David LaClair Jr. says he would like to see the public have an opportunity for public comment at the beginning of meetings rather than just one session at the end of the meetings. Screenshot

MASSENA — A change in the agenda could be in the works for Massena Central School Board meetings.

Board member David LaClair Jr. has suggested allowing public comment at the beginning of the meeting so that, if issues are brought up, they can be discussed by the board.

A public comment period is currently offered at the end of meetings, which typically range from approximately one hour and 30 minutes to two hours. The last meeting, which included a public hearing on the district safety plan, an update on the district’s capital project and updates from Superintendent Patrick Brady lasted for about 2 hours and 50 minutes. A public comment period was added to the agenda at the last board meeting immediately following Mr. Brady’s presentation on the reopening of schools.

Mr. LaClair wondered if they could regularly allow people to comment before the meeting.

“Are there ways that we can look at maybe realigning how the meetings are done?” he asked.

He said he has seen several instances since he had been on the board where the public wanted to speak, but had to wait until the end of the meeting.

“The board doesn’t generally respond to the individual. However, their comments can play more of a role in our discussion prior to than afterwards. So maybe there’s something that we could look at rearranging whereas in the beginning as a public comments session,” Mr. LaClair said.

If someone showed up after the first public comment session, they could make their comments at the final one following the meeting.

“I just want to bring it up to people’s minds thinking about this exact issue,” he said.

Board President Paul Haggett said a discussion was warranted.

“I was actually going to bring that up. There have been a lot of media reports about meetings that have gotten out of hand for various reasons, mostly related to COVID and so forth. But to sort of mitigate some of that....” he said.

“... and to give the public more of an opportunity than we actually have to discuss their comment,” Mr. LaClair said.

Board Vice President Amber Baines said she would also like to discuss the length of meetings.

“I’m all for three-and-a-half to four-hour meetings each time, but maybe there are some ways we can streamline some of the things that are presented, the data that we get and things like that,” she said.

“Another thing that we’re working on is actually getting our architects and engineers in here for an in-person meeting rather than doing that over the phone, which I personally don’t like,” Mr. Haggett said.

He suggested they could discuss the recommendations further at their September meeting

‘I think I’d like to have a little bit of an open debate at another meeting,” he said.

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