Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
The Macon County Board of Education meets the fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m. On some nights, the meeting lasts until after 8 p.m. Depending on agenda items, the board often spends lengthy amounts of time discussing each item before voting on a decision that impacts the entire district.
With a policy revision in full swing and mandates coming from the state on what seems like a monthly basis, the Macon County Board of Education will soon be testing a bi-monthly meeting schedule that will allow for a work session to discuss agenda items and then a regular meeting to vote.
“Several other districts have gone to this model,” said Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “They report improved communication of information and more informed decision-making as a result. Two meetings would allow the school system to present information to the board and then allow a week, or more for the board to have any questions answered before voting at the regularly scheduled meeting.”
With board representatives from Nantahala and Highlands traveling to the central office in Franklin for the monthly meetings, having two meetings a month would mean more travel time for them. To address that issue, Dr. Baldwin said they could attend the work session virtually.
“The work session would be handled virtually through FaceTime or Skype, etc., for the BOE members in Nantahala and Highlands,” said Dr. Baldwin.
With two meetings being considered, the agenda would be needed to be finalized earlier. Principals would need to have their requests to the central office for approval sooner than usual.
“The primary advantage will be more informed decision making,” said Dr. Baldwin. “As it currently stands, the BOE is often presented information and then they act on that information within the same meeting. The new model will allow them more time to discuss the requests or issues before taking action.”
As it stands, the Board of Education meets primarily at the central office on the fourth Monday of each month, with two meetings a year being held at Highlands and two meetings a year being held at Nantahala. Dr. Baldwin noted that adding another meeting a month might be tricky to fit into everyone’s schedules.
“We will look at what is best for the board members, but Thursday or Monday are the most likely to lead to the least conflict,” he said.
Tentatively, the Macon County Board of Education is scheduled to try the two meeting schedule this August before deciding if the new meeting schedule would be a permanent change.