The Mehlville school board is trying to make meetings shorter and more efficient by aligning the agenda around its goals.
The agenda format and meeting efficiency were both discussed Saturday, at the board’s annual retreat. The new format was approved unanimously.
Superintendent Eric Knost said he’d make adjustments over the next two meetings and implement the new format in October.
The format is based on the board’s goals of student achievement, fiscal responsibility and strategic planning. Presentations and reports will be orchestrated to fit into the main topics.
Board member Larry Felton introduced the new idea and said it was growing in popularity across the state.
“The main thing we’re adopting if we do this is that we’re going to organize after our normal start-up process… that we’re going to organize our discussions based upon our areas of emphasis,” he said.
Time for PTO and business recognition will be added to the agenda. At the suggestion of Mark Stoner, this section will be called Community and highlight the fundraising activities of PTOs and donations from local businesses.
The most important items and those that will take the most discussion should be at the beginning of the meeting, Elaine Powers said. Then, people from the community and presenters could get information without waiting until the end of the meeting.
Powers suggested putting the consent agenda—bills, and other monthly items—at the end.
The board looked at two other agenda formats. The standard format—what the board uses now—has old and new business sections. The other format spent the majority of the meeting recognizing students, faculty and the community. Then the board would have focused discussions and reports.
Board member Rich Franz said the recognition format would be difficult for a district of Mehlville’s size.
The board also discussed department reports.
Franz suggested the reports—such as transportation, summer school and food service—be presented to the board beforehand instead of sitting through a presentation. The board could then raise questions at the meeting.
“I feel like we eat up a lot of time on these reports,” he said. “A lot of these reports deal with things that (Knost is) responsible for, that (his) team is responsible for, that we really have no intention of changing anything, we’re just fulfilling a requirement to hear a report.”
Although board president Venki Palamand agreed with Franz, Knost said it might hinder transparency. He said the board meeting presentations are also designed to keep the community informed.
The board agreed to keep reports in the meetings, but work on redundancies between the PowerPoint and presenter.