After a standing-room-only crowd overflowed the board's Castle Rock chambers during its Jan. 21 meeting, the Douglas County School District made the call to restrict attendance at its meetings to those who are seated.
Though fire code allows a …
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Though fire code allows a total of 145 people in the room, a total of 87 chairs now will be available for audience members. Those who cannot find a seat will not be allowed to attend the meeting, according to security staff.
Though there was no formal action taken on the matter, security guards at the Feb. 4 meeting told some audience members about the change as they entered the meeting — the first board meeting since Jan. 21.
DCSD spokeswoman Paula Hans said that given the current boardroom set up, “including space for media and other code requirements, a maximum of 87 chairs can be placed in the room.”
The change was prompted by safety concerns, DCSD leaders said, and is not an effort to limit attendance.
During the Jan. 21 meeting, audience members sat on the floor and stood. Still more people stood in a hall outside the meeting room. A series of controversial changes instituted by the school board in the last few years regularly have brought a deluge of concerned community members to the group's meeting. Standing-room-only school board meetings have not been uncommon.
“Concerns about public participation are unfounded,” Hans wrote in an email. “Public outreach in DCSD has never been more robust than now.”
For instance, under new board president Kevin Larsen's direction, public comment time has been expanded from two to three minutes per person. Also under Larsen, the board is introducing its “Board Unplugged” meetings, with the first one scheduled for March 3 at Parker's Cimarron Middle School. Though it will be an evening meeting, the start time has not been set yet.
The meetings are a new effort to connect on a more informal level with community members, board members say, and a return to the types of meetings the group once held quarterly at various schools throughout Douglas County.
The March 3 meeting substitutes for the board's first regular meeting of the month, and is the first of three the board plans through the end of the school year.
The second meetings in March, April and May — set for 7 p.m. each third Tuesday — will be held in the board meeting room of DCSD's administration building in Castle Rock. There will be “Board Unplugged” meetings on the first Tuesday each of those months at various locations throughout the district.
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