In an effort to provide as much opportunity as possible for members of the community to offer public comment while still allowing for the efficient conduct of school division business, the Albemarle County School Board said today it will institute a lottery in the event the number of people who sign up to speak at their July 8 meeting exceeds 40.
If more than 40 people sign up to speak during public comment at the July 8 meeting, Jon Zug, Albemarle County’s Circuit Court Clerk, will identify speakers using a random selection system similar to the one he uses to select juries.
Historically, school board agendas have set aside 30 minutes to hear public comments during business meetings, with each speaker provided up to three minutes. This allows for as many as 10 speakers. In recent meetings, however, the number of requests from people wishing to address the board during a meeting has exceeded two and three times that number, extending well into the time set aside to review or vote on business agenda items. On occasion, agenda items have had to be deferred to a future meeting.
Under these circumstances, the time allotted to each speaker has had to be reduced from three minutes to two minutes. Given the large number of speakers, however, public comment periods still have far exceeded their allotted time.
In addition to speaking publicly at a school board meeting, anyone wishing to offer comments to the board can do so in writing by providing their statements and supporting documents to the Clerk of the Board via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also can email the entire school board at email@example.com. All written communications are distributed by the Clerk to all school board members and made an official part of the board’s record.
The business agenda for the July 8 meeting will be posted on the ElectronicSchoolBoard website beginning Friday, July 2. The agenda can be accessed by clicking on the meeting date within the calendar at the top-right of the page.
Community members wishing to speak at the July 8 meeting can sign up for public comment through the School Board web page next week beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. (School division offices will be closed on Monday due to observance of Independence Day.) Public comment sign-up will close at 2 p.m. on Thursday, July 8.
If a lottery becomes necessary, all speakers will be notified as soon as possible on Thursday afternoon whether their name was randomly selected. Speakers selected through the lottery will not be eligible to enter again if a lottery becomes necessary for the next school board meeting on August 12.
School board policy provides that whenever a significant number of people sign up to speak at a meeting, the time set aside for individual remarks can be reduced from three minutes to two minutes. If indeed more than 40 speakers sign up for public comment for the July 8 meeting, those selected by lottery will have two minutes on the agenda, extending public comment from 30 to 80 minutes.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Strategic Communications Officer