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Kiski Area School District officials defend move to stop taping meetings

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By Michael Aubele
Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

Kiski Area School District officials on Monday defended their decision to stop audio-taping school board meetings.

The officials addressed the issue after Allegheny Township resident Jim Johnson voiced his concern about the change.

While it was more than a year ago that officials stopped taping the meetings, residents weren't aware until recently.

A number of Pennsylvania school boards record their meetings with audio or visual equipment, although Superintendent John Meighan and Solicitor Carl Beard said there is no law that requires them to do so.

Meighan said the tapes helped the board secretary compile meeting minutes, but were erased after the minutes were approved.

"The tapes were never public record," he said.

Johnson argued that board members should've agreed publicly to the change, saying, "To me, it's a change in policy."

Meighan and Beard said the change didn't require a vote because it wasn't a policy matter.

"We stopped taping the meetings over a year ago," Meighan said. "It was a change in practice, not a policy change."

Johnson also called into question the board's decision to limit public comment during regular voting meetings.

The board allows residents to comment at the beginning of the meeting only about matters that are slated for a vote.

Residents are offered two chances to speak during planning (agenda setting) meetings. The second public comment period during planning meetings offers residents the chance to discuss any issue.

Johnson said residents should be given the chance to discuss any issue during voting meetings as well.

"Our right to speak is being violated," he said.

Meighan indicated the board limits comments during voting meetings to focus the discussion on the decisions board members will make.

Beard said limiting public comment during voting meetings is "the norm" in most school districts.

Additional Information:

Yearbook award

An official with the Pennsylvania School Press Association presented Kiski Area High School yearbook staff with an award for the 2009 yearbook, 'Campus.'

The association handed out two of the awards this year.

Kiski Area was the only district in western Pennsylvania to win.

The Kiski Area staff, which also won the award last year, is competing for a national award for yearbook design.

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