That is why speakers at a recent — Tuesday afternoon — board of education meeting called on officials to offer a more convenient meeting time.
“All the meetings are starting at 12:30, right after lunch,” Pocomoke City resident Matthew Langford said during the Nov. 16 meeting. “Most citizens work 9 to 5 or somewhere in that range. They can’t attend your meetings unless they take off of work. So another time, which would allow a greater number of citizens to attend, would be much appreciated.”
He added that it makes no sense that the meetings do not have a virtual option.
Darren Lombardo, another speaker at the meeting, also commented on the inconvenient meeting times and even offered his own services, as the owner of a technology firm, to help implement a virtual option for viewers to stream and watch them.
“We implemented distance learning here, we have the technology to do that … so you guys are experts in streaming,” he said. “You guys are experts at delivering the platform and there’s no reason we couldn’t have that here so it could be seen. If it’s a problem and you struggle with the implementation … I’m willing to offer IT consulting service … to implement that pro bono.”
The board typically meets once a month on the third Tuesday. The meetings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with closed sessions, and the open, public sessions commence at 12:30 p.m.
Annual budget sessions are typically held in the evenings, but the majority of all other public meetings are held on Tuesday afternoons.
The board does not video conference or stream the meetings and audio or video transcripts are not available after they end. There is a conference call-in option, but the sound quality is not clear and it is at times difficult to follow what is going on.
Superintendent Lou Taylor said in an emailed statement on Monday that while the ultimate meeting schedule is up to the board members, there is a reason why they are scheduled in the middle of a weekday.
“Our Board of Education prides itself on being a board that recognizes the achievements of our students,” Taylor said. “By holding its meetings during the school day, the board can provide transportation for students being honored for their accomplishments in the classroom, on the playing field, on stage, and beyond.”
He added that offering transportation has also been a key component in enabling the three student board representatives from the area high schools to attend and participate in the meetings.
Taylor said that he and members of the board “certainly appreciate the feedback” from the district community. He added that they are all “very supportive” of parental involvement in students’ education.