Thursday, April 25, 2024

First town hall-style school board meeting met with effective communication

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The Granbury ISD school board held its first town hall-style meeting, allowing members of the public to speak on any topic of their choosing, followed by discussion directly with the board Feb. 26.

This style of meeting came after a change to the procedure on public comments was adopted in a Nov. 13 meeting. From that meeting, the board agreed to hold four meetings throughout the year to allow the public to speak on any topic. School board meetings since then have not allowed for public comments on non-agenda items.

The town hall-style meeting allowed for the trustees and GISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn to sit on the same level as those who wished to comment. Members of the public were allowed to speak for three minutes followed by a board response, whereas in previous proceedings, board members could not respond. The new style allowed for back-and-forth discussion where concerns and questions could be answered right away or taken into account for further consideration. No action can be taken at these meetings.

The meeting took place in the GISD administration building, but not in the board room as Barbara Townsend, board president, noted one trustee had the idea of moving into a larger room.

The hour-and-a-half long meeting was met with a majority of comments about the recent calling of a May special election to decide a $161.5 million bond proposal.

Many people had questions regarding the bond, concerns about the added debt, and some praised the push for the bond to be passed.

Trustee Karen Lowery reiterated her opposing view about the bond noting that people have informed her they cannot take on more debt.

“If this bond passes, the total debt of county citizens would be $419 million,” Lowery noted. She also shared her concern that the district is looking at the same demographic study used from the previous bond rather than conducting a second study.

Lowery reiterated that 56% of families within the student population are economically disadvantaged, and that these families don’t want the burden of paying for another bond for many years to come.

“There are people that are hurting. I don’t think you’re really mad at me; I think you’re mad at all the voters that voted no, and they’re voting no because one, they don’t understand (the bond) and two, they’re hurting in economic times like this.”

Some community members requested an itemized list about the bond be available for the public, and Townsend shared that would cost roughly $1 million dollars that the board does not have. The board shared that a 13-page report regarding the bond will soon be available on the GISD website that goes into further detail about the bond.

Some public comments stressed the importance of better communication within the board, something Glenn agreed needs to happen.

“I think I can speak for all the trustees up here that they care about kids,” Glenn shared during the meeting. “We do not always agree, but at the end of the day we all try and do our best to fight for our community and our kids.”

“I hope this has been helpful, and I hope that you have appreciated the fact that we could talk back and forth,” Townsend said before adjourning the meeting.

The next school board meeting will take place March 25, with the next special meeting scheduled for May 28. The Feb. 26 meeting is available for viewing on the Granbury ISD YouTube channel at granburyisd.

Trustee Melanie Graft was not in attendance at the meeting.