KATY (FOX 26) - The Katy Independent School District moves to improve public communications by welcoming public comments in time to actually influence school board decisions. That may sound like an obvious move to some, but that's actually a brand new board policy implemented by the Katy ISD Board of Trustees.
"I think it's a great idea," says Katy ISD parent Melissa Nixon. Nixon is also chairperson of the 1Katy Political Action Committee which promotes strong partnerships between the district, residents, and the business community.
"It gives the parent, or community member, a chance to share concerns, ideas, or perspectives with the board, and then it gives the board the chance to contemplate and consider what the persons telling them rather than voting on the same day they're hearing it," Nixon says.
Up until now, public comments could be made only at Katy ISD's regular school board meetings. The meetings where votes are cast. During the school board's work study meetings the week before, the public could watch members discuss agenda items, but were not allowed to speak.
Katy ISD would not provide an interview about the change in policy, but provided this statement:
"On January 19, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved to move the public forum to the Work Study meeting, which normally takes place one week before the regular monthly meeting. This change will allow for the board members to have adequate time to consider the comments made by the public before taking action on related items at the regular Board meeting. The approved changes to public forum also include having patrons provide their first and last name. This will assist the Board if they wish to follow up or obtain additional information from a patron who speaks during the public forum."
For a school board that is frequently criticized for being inaccessible, this could actually increase public participation in the district's major decisions.
"I hope so," Nixon says. "I think people do need to get involved and informed, and ask questions. It's an important part of the process. It's the only way the board members can even make informed decisions, if the community is engaged."
The new public comment policy begins in February.