School board explains lack of open question period at Sept. 25 meeting

With only a couple more gatherings left before the municipal election Oct. 24, the School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) board of trustees busied themselves with cleaning up various housekeeping items at their Sept. 25 regular meeting.

However, Lindsay Anderson, who is running for a position on the school board, kept the trustees on their toes at the tail end of Tuesday’s meeting by bringing up the issue of open forums.

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The SDML board reserves time at the end of every meeting for public questions, although these inquiries have to be related to the agendas items from that particular meeting.

“There’s no open forum anywhere,” Anderson said. “You can only talk about the agenda, so how do you guys keep [parents] informed about what’s going on?”

Board chairperson Don MacDonald said those kinds of open inquiries are usually reserved for the delegations and presentations section at the start of the meeting, although those delegates have to be approved by the SDML beforehand.

Trustee Leslie Tucker said they have explored other avenues to try engaging with parents, such as hosting board meetings at different schools around town instead of just their headquarters on Thompson Drive.

“The open forum thing just gets really problematic in respect to community meetings,” she said. “It can turn into a bit of a show. The City of Thompson used to have open [forums] and then they closed because it gets to be hours and hours long.”

In a follow-up interview with the Thompson Citizen, Anderson said she was not satisfied with the board’s response, since she went through their official channels before and was unsuccessful.

“Three years ago I tried to be a delegate on the agenda and no one answered my calls, no one called me back, no one added me to the agenda and on the agenda there’s no place for me to talk,” she said. “So what’s the point of even going?”

Anderson went on to say that she wanted to talk to the board directly at that time because her son was being relentlessly bullied at Westwood School, and she wasn’t getting any help from the school’s principal.

“I just wanted to talk to them because my son was bullied and it continued to happen and it ended up getting so bad he didn’t want to go to school anymore and I didn’t think that was fair.”

Anderson said she isn’t the only parent who has issues with the school board’s lack of engagement and promises to make this a priority if she becomes a trustee following the Oct. 24 election.

The next SDML board meeting is schedule for Oct. 9 in the district office at 408 Thompson Drive North.

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