Trustees may set bedtime

School people need go beddy bye.

The Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees was set to consider Nov. 16 a change to its bylaws requiring meetings to be adjourned at 10:30 p.m., unless a vote is taken to extend the time.

Trustee Rick Rees, who was on a board subcommittee that decided to “throw the idea out there,” said late-night meetings are not a huge burden on trustees or staff, but it would be nice to get it done early for the sake of everyone at the meeting.

“It would be a goal, but we wouldn’t want to get into a lot of parliamentary rigmarole,” Rees said. “We really ought to try to wrap board meetings up later.

“I know 2 in the morning is not the best time for me to be thinking,” he said. “And it’s a drag for the public to be there at all hours.”

The draft language for the proposed addition to Series 9000 of the board bylaws reads, in part, “The board believes that late night meetings deter public participation, can affect the Board’s decision-making ability, and can be a burden to staff.”

Rees said the main concern he and Trustee Jann Reed, the other subcommittee member, heard was for students who wish to participate in the meeting, along with teachers who are stuck grading papers in the back of the room for hours while waiting for a five-minute textbook proposal.

One idea staff and individual trustees have batted around is making a habit of starting meetings with its closed-session items at 6 or 6:30 p.m., rather than solely at the end of the meeting. That’s occasionally done now, and then the regular meeting starts at 7.

In September 2000, then-Superintendent Scott Brown proposed shifting meetings from the first and third Wednesdays of the month to Thursdays, hoping that meeting later in the week would give staff more time to prepare for the meeting and fewer days feeling below-par after it. The idea was quickly scrapped due to fears that the CUSD would lose its slot in the City Council Chambers, and its ability to televise meetings.

Also on the horizon for the board at its Dec. 7 meeting is its annual organizational meeting, and selection of board “officers” for the 2005-6 calendar year. Traditionally, the superintendent acts as secretary to the board and trustees nominate and vote for which of them will be president, vice president and clerk. The president, usually a more senior board member, runs the meetings.