Regular attendees of Chilliwack school district’s public board meetings got a surprise Tuesday morning when they still hadn’t seen the meeting’s agenda posted on the district’s website.
“I waited for it,” said CTA president Katharin Midzain.
In her five years of attending the meetings, Midzain said this is the first time she hasn’t seen the agenda posted the Friday prior to the meeting. She thought it was due to the busy nature of district officials.
But that was not the case.
With no advance notice or reasoning, the school district’s senior executive team decided to change its practice in how agendas would be distributed prior to public meetings.
Instead of posting them online the Friday before the meeting, which has been common practice for several years, the agendas will now be posted the day of the meetings.
District superintendent Michael Audet told The Progress that the information in agenda packages should go to trustees first before the public starts talking about the information inside them.
Typically trustees receive the package on the Friday before a meeting.
“Trustees have made it very clear to us that they would like as much information prior to the meeting as possible to give them time to read through the information and think about the information provided before the board meeting,” said Audet.
Audet said the decision was made after an article was published prior to the April 10 meeting on the legal advice provided to the district, which was based on information obtained in the April 10 agenda.
“We decided we’re not going to give the full package out until the day of the meeting so trustees have a chance to read it all and process it before they read about it in the paper,” said Audet.
“The board package is for the board.”
However, parent Don Davis is concerned the new practice could prevent parents and other community members from attending public meetings.
“It’s challenging as some of us can’t always come to the meetings,” Davis said. “If there’s an item on the agenda that interests parents, it would be better to have as much notice as possible so we can make the time to attend the meeting. But if [the agenda] is coming out the day of, that makes it tough for parents to respond to.”