Re-1 District board member calls for increased openness
August 28, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – At least one member of the Re-1 school board thinks the board should do more than a new state law requires in regards to keeping records of its public discussions.
“Legally we don’t have to, but I think it would be great to be recording all of our meetings in the spirit of transparency, and for purposes of better communication and building trust,” board member Debbie Bruell said Wednesday during consideration of a revised policy regarding board meetings.
Colorado’s Open Meetings Law has long required local governments, including public school boards, to keep written minutes of all regular and special meetings where any votes are taken.
House Bill 09-1082, passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter earlier this year, took it a step further specifically for school boards. The law requires an audio recording of all regular and special meetings where action is taken to be kept on file for at least 90 days.
However, neither law requires minutes or an audio recording for less-formal work sessions and retreats where no votes are taken.
“I think it would be a nice gesture to the public, as a way of recognizing our public accountability,” Bruell said. “There are no secret meetings, but we do have a lot of hours of discussion that we have no record of.”
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The school board occasionally schedules work sessions and retreats for the purpose of brainstorming, long-range planning and broader discussions without taking action on any particular item.
Such meetings must be publicly noticed and are open to the public. Topics of discussion are to be provided to the public, but no action may be taken.
The only exceptions are topics that fall under the provisions for private executive sessions related to personnel matters, contract negotiations, pending litigation and legal advice on certain matters. The public may not attend executive sessions. Records are usually kept, but are not made public.
Most other local governments, including municipalities, counties and special districts, also do not keep minutes or recordings of work sessions and retreats.
“I think it would be great if people could hear those discussions,” Bruell said. “Clearly, we don’t have anything to hide.”
The Re-1 district encompasses schools in Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.