Some community members ask school board for transparency and communication
During Tuesday night’s Rapid City School Board meeting, a group gathered outside of the meeting location, voicing frustration on a number of topics, all rounding back to them believing the Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education is not listening to all of its constituents.
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - During Tuesday night’s Rapid City School Board meeting, a group gathered outside of the meeting location, voicing frustration on a number of topics, all rounding back to them believing the Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education is not listening to all of its constituents.
For the second meeting in a row, protesters gathered outside of the RCAS board of education meeting.
“I think the board is listening to those who voted for them and exclusively those who voted for them. At the last meeting, we had tons of healthcare workers, tons of school staff, and just general members of the community and they still didn’t listen to us,” said Michael Birkeland, a former RCAS teacher. “The main thing that we’re talking about now is transparency and just listening to the public as a whole, rather than just the special interest groups.”
The school board has not responded to a request to comment on how their meetings are being run, so we took a look at other local government meetings that include public comment periods, meetings like Pennington county commission and Rapid City common council. The latter of which says since their public comment rules were put into place back in 1992, they haven’t heard much frustration from the community.
“I don’t know if there’s been questions in regard to, you know, when we had restrictions due to the pandemic, I think that there were concerns,” said Darrell Shoemaker who does communications for the city of City Rapid.
At the September 7 school board meeting, 10 People were allowed to speak during the public comment period. Before the mask mandate was voted on. Even though 70 people were signed up.
During city council meetings, all public comment is heard before the vote.
“We open up with a public comment period, generally lasts three minutes in duration for each individual speaker, we have speaker request forms people are encouraged to fill out prior to the meeting and we’ll get those up to the committee chair or the mayor, then we have the public comment reserved for the general public,” continued Shoemaker.
On occasion, the city council does limit the number of speakers, allowing opposing groups to decide who will use their time.
“There have been occasions in which we’ve had particular community issues in which the course of the discussion is going to be pretty much the same dialogue and on occasion, the mayor councils both sides on a particular issue, ‘we’re going to limit debate to thirty minutes each side’,” wrapped up Shoemaker. “Each side is counseled to come up with 10 speakers, 3 minutes each, 30 minutes each side, and generally that brings the debate to a close.”
Shoemaker says no one way of doing public comment is right or wrong.
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