A vote for silence

By: 

We are disappointed in a decision made by a majority of the Barnwell District 19 School Board (Blackville-Hilda Public Schools).

While we hoped we could use this space to commend the board for looking out for the public, they approved a policy update Monday night that requires members of the public wanting to speak to sign up five days before a regular meeting. This is simply unfair and goes against the intent of public participation.

After learning of the proposed change at the August meeting, we wrote an editorial last month encouraging the board to not require folks to have to sign up days in advance. Managing Editor Jonathan Vickery spoke during public comment Monday to reiterate the newspaper’s stance on the issue.

Maybe this does not seem like a big deal to some, but it creates a slippery slope. What is the board gaining by making this change? This move makes it seem the board wants less interaction with the public that elected them.

The current system of signing in just prior to a meeting starting works just fine. It is also the preferred method for most public bodies in Barnwell County.

As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Only one board member seemed to agree with our view. We commend Karen Jowers for voting against the change, but wish her colleagues would have done the same. Carroll Priester, Ethel Faust and Sharon McClary voted in favor. George Fickling was not present at the meeting.

If you believe this is a bad move, talk to the board members and superintendent to express your opinion. Write letters to them or submit a Letter to the Editor in this newspaper.

Speak during public comment, but be sure to meet the five-day requirement to sign up.

Your silence seems to be just what this school board wants.