Gilford School Board decides to allow public to speak before votes are taken

  • Published in Local News

GILFORD — The Gilford School Board plans to make a small but significant change in the way it conducts its meetings and will now allow public input on agenda items before voting on them.

Outgoing board chairman Kurt Webber recommended the change, saying that he had heard many complaints about the current policy.

“We've been voting on actions before we hear public comment. I think we should modify the meeting structure to receive comments from the public before we ...

GILFORD — The Gilford School Board plans to make a small but significant change in the way it conducts its meetings and will now allow public input on agenda items before voting on them.

Outgoing board chairman Kurt Webber recommended the change, saying that he had heard many complaints about the current policy.

“We've been voting on actions before we hear public comment. I think we should modify the meeting structure to receive comments from the public before we vote,'' said Webber.

Long-time board member Sue Allen said that she could recalls that the board used to accept public input before voting, prompting Webber to ask why it had been changed.

Paul Blandford, who became the board's new chairman last night, said that he was on the board when the change was made and recalled it that it had something to do with keeping the flow of the meeting going and not getting bogged down.

The board agreed that the best approach would be to allow public input after old business and new business had been discussed and to accept comments before proceeding with votes.

Kevin Leandro, a member of the town Budget Committee, welcomed the change but said that the board should go one step further in becoming more transparent and fully read the text of any proposed policy changes at its meetings so that the public would know what they are, noting that the policy changes had been referenced by title only at last night's meeting.

He also urged the board to rethink its stand on electioneering laws governing public officials and said that policy subcommittees are subject to the state's Right-to-Know Law and that minutes should be kept and be available to the public of subcommittee meetings.

The board also voted unanimously to name Anthony Sperazzo the new assistant principal at Gilford High School. Sperazzo, who has been serving as assistant principal at Gilford Middle School. In making the nomination Superintendent of Schools Kent Hemingway said that Sperazzo had been recommended for the position by Peter Sawyer. Gilford High School principal elect after screenings and interviews with a selection committee of Gilford High School staff.

The board also approved a six-day trip to St. Louis April 24-29 for the Gilford High School FIRST Robotics Team to compete in the robotics competition World Championship.

The Gilford team was a winner in recent regional competition at Verizon Center in Manchester and has been put in a bracket with teams from Manchester Central and South Portland, Maine.

Jackie Drever, one of the team's mentors, said the team has raised close to $30,000 to make the trip and will compete against 344 other teams in Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams.

Some 20 team members will be accompanied by six adults on the trip according to Drever.

The team has already received contributions from the School District, the Gilford Rotary Club, the Gilford Educational Endowment Fund as well as checks from several private donors.

Drever said that a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the Gilford Community Church on March 23 was a big success and raised over $2,700.

Members of the robotics team have also been selling highly efficient LED light bulbs to help pay for the trip.