Starting this month, Williamson County Schools is switching to a fully online signup process for public comment during its board of education meetings.
After the district's school board meetings have drawn large crowds to the Williamson County Administrative Complex several months in a row, with people lining up hours in advance to sign up to speak at the meeting, WCS decided to hold signups fully online.
"We know that we've had some struggles in the last couple of months related to signups, so we've done a little bit of research," said WCS Superintendent Jason Golden. "We've also looked back to what we did when the board was meeting remotely, and our plan is to work on — even for this month — an online signup along the lines of how we had it structured last year."
This change in process takes place this month. Signups for the meeting on Monday, Oct. 18, are currently open, and those who would like to speak can send an email to email@example.com with the following information:
• First and last name
• Complete address
• Topic of comment
• Any organization represented by the speaker
• A copy of the speaker's Tennessee photo ID
During each monthly school board meeting, a maximum of 30 minutes is allotted for public comment. Depending on the number of speakers, each individual will have one to three minutes to speak.
The deadline to sign up for public comment will be noon on the day of the meeting. Speakers (a maximum of 30) will speak before the board in order of the time they signed up. Speakers who sign up after the first 30 will be notified that they are on a waitlist and may be called on should any of the first 30 not show up for their time to speak.
Golden said that, as the district navigates this change, they may make some "tweaks" to the process, but the board's policy on public comment will continue to be followed.
While the opportunity to sign up for the October meeting opened prior to the board's work session on Oct. 7, where the board discusses the agenda for the upcoming voting meeting, District 7 board member Sheila Cleveland suggested that the signup window open after the work session.
"People may be signing up arbitrarily just to sign up to speak, but there's a lot of people out there that won't want to speak unless there's an issue that they might hear during the work session, and maybe it's already filled up because you might have people that might just want to sign up to sign up," she said.
Golden said they would take that suggestion into consideration for future meetings.
The board is scheduled to meet next at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 18, at the Williamson County Administrative Complex. For more information or to view the meeting's agenda, visit www.WCS.edu.