Oswego 308 board member Greg O’Neil doesn’t think so.
He had the topic brought up at the school’s board meeting last week and said he felt that there shouldn’t be a limitation.
“I don’t mind hearing from people what they have to say,” he said. “And on several occasions we’ve cut people off mid-sentence. I understand holding up a rule, but it seems rude to me.”
The school board enacts a five-minute limit rule at regular board meetings. The Oswegoland Park District also has a 5-minute limit, but the Oswego Village board meetings do not have any time restrictions.
Board president Bill Walsh said the five-minute limit has been in place for years and that policy actually recommends it is cut to three-minutes.
A three-minute time limit has been used in some cases, like the school boundary forum in 2012, and Walsh said people were very respectful of that limit.
“It’s their school, their school board. We should hear them out,” said O’Neil.
He said that those addressing the board should at the very least be allowed to finish a sentence or thought. “That would settle better.”
But fellow board member Matt Baumain said that “thought could just keep going.
“I think people prepare what they’re going to say and many have made presentations to the boad before. Cutoff is a little harsh, but it has to be done.”
A suggestion was made to consider moving the five-minute countdown timer to where it could be viewed facing forward by the presenter. Currently the timer is on screens to the left or right of the speaker and O’Neil said it can be difficult to see and people don’t often realize they’re running up against the clock.
That decision was met with agreement and the board said they would discuss about setting up a laptop with the timer in the front, rather than having to install timer clocks in the building.
Walsh also suggested an open “town hall” style meeting that they have been considering, which board members would be able to respond immediately to citizens. That meeting would not replace regular board meetings or public forums, but be an addition at a different date.
Currently, the board will not discuss of engage with presenters during public forum.
O’Neil said he would be in support of a town hall forum.
What do you think? Should public comment be limited and, if so, to what degree? Is five minutes enough to present a point?