Gradebook podcast: Is the Hillsborough County School Board listening to the public?

The chairwoman looks for ways to keep comments private, while the board asks for more input on key issues like its superintendent search.
The Hillsborough County School Board holds a workshop in June 2019. Tampa Bay Times
The Hillsborough County School Board holds a workshop in June 2019. Tampa Bay Times
Published September 12

By their very nature, school board meetings are public. They’re held in an open room. Anyone can attend. They exist specifically to deal with the public’s business.

Yet in the nation’s eighth largest school district, the board chairwoman has led the fight to keep residents’ comments to the board largely outside the public eye. She argues that some people wish to address the body privately, but in public.

Plus, the same district — Hillsborough County — is looking for public input into its superintendent search. Through surveys and town halls, residents are encouraged to tell the district’s headhunter exactly what they want to see in the next CEO.

Is the board listening, or just going through the motions?

Reporters Marlene Sokol and Jeff Solochek discuss the role of public comments as the district makes some key decisions.

RELATED: Public comments will be aired again at Hillsborough school board meetings

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