The primary purpose of meetings is for the board to carry out its responsibilities of reviewing, discussing, and taking action on a wide range of policy-related issues. The public is allowed to observe the board at work and is invited to participate in specific segments of the meeting within the guidelines set by board policy. Each meeting requires that the board balance the need to conduct its business within a reasonable time frame and to receive constructive comments and questions from citizens. The board president moderates the discussion with the aims of ensuring that board members have enough discussion to make decisions and that as many different public participants who want to speak have an opportunity to do so. On certain topics with broad general interest and impact, such as the annual budget, the board may sponsor a special session devoted almost exclusively to public comment and dialogue.
Typically, the West Morris Regional High School District (WMRHSD) Board of Education conducts one open public meeting per month, and one work session per month, where committees meet. Because the district is made up of two high school buildings, the public meetings are rotated between the buildings each month. A full listing of the open public BOE meetings can be found by clicking 2017 Meeting Schedule.
Board of Education (BOE) meetings must be publicly advertised. No business may be conducted unless there is a quorum present and five out of nine members constitute a quorum. Most action items require a simple majority of the members present. In some instances, however, a majority of the full BOE (5 members) must approve an item for it to pass, regardless of the number of members in attendance.
Certain matters require that the BOE meet in private. These include litigation, contract negotiations, and personnel issues. Typically, when closed session (executive session) issues are resolved, they are reported in meeting minutes.
Individual BOE members have no special legal status except when sitting with the rest of the Board in a public BOE meeting. Outside of such meetings, BOE members may neither speak for other Board members nor may they represent the BOE as a whole.
The WMRHSD Board of Education welcomes public comments at its meetings. Typically, there are two opportunities for the public to express their views. One is early in the meeting at a time in the agenda entitled “Open to the Public”. Another time for public comment is later in the meeting, either before or after the closed session (executive session). The BOE asks that public give their name and municipality of residence, and keep their comments to 5 minutes or less, so that all residents who wish to comment have the opportunity to do so.
For the most part, the BOE does not respond to public comment. Questions may be answered and clarifications may be provided, but the BOE does not engage the public in debate. The BOE may refer items from the public to district administration for review.