The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education will start its new meeting schedule Tuesday.
The board’s first committee work session will start at 5 p.m. in room 219 of the Education Building at 4801 Bethania Station Road in Winston-Salem. The next regular board meeting will be Jan. 28.
On Dec. 17 in a called meeting, the board approved holding their regular meetings once a month on the fourth Tuesday with its closed session at 5:30 p.m. followed by an open meeting at 6:30 p.m. The Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Curriculum and Policy committees now meet in sessions the second Tuesday of the month.
The board’s special committees will meet on an as needed basis. The next meeting of the Climate, Culture & Equity Special Committee will be at 4 p.m. today in Room 223 of the Education Building; and the School Choice Special Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Jan. 29 also in Room 223 of the Education Building.
Prior to the policy change, the board met on the second and fourth Tuesdays, with public comments allowed at both meetings. The board’s committees met at different times on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month before the regular meeting. Sometimes, the committees conducted meetings during weeks when there were no board meetings.
Alfred Harvey, a retired educator of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, was outspoken about the changes at the board’s Dec. 10 meeting, saying if the board allows public comment only on the fourth Tuesday of the month, it will silence the public.
On Thursday, he said he was disappointed in the school board and its leadership “because the leadership started out talking about transparency,” Harvey said. “Well, this is a long ways from transparency …. Rarely do people attend committee meetings, so therefore that will be a work session for the board …. They changed something that wasn’t broke.”
Board members Barbara Burke and Andrea Bramer voted against the new meeting policy.
Burke said in an interview after the Dec. 17 meeting that she was not opposed to moving meetings once a month, but she was concerned that the public was not given enough time to consider the new schedule.
Other school board members said they will continue to listen to the public about the new meeting schedule, and if it doesn’t work out, they are open to making changes.
Angela P. Hairston, WS/FCS superintendent, has said that the school district values comments from the public and its goal is to improve communication.
She has said that because the committees met right before the board meetings, the school system’s staff did not have enough time to prepare and put items on the agenda. She has also said that moving the times for the committee meetings to 5 p.m. will ensure that people who work have enough time to get to the meetings from their jobs.