One of the largest complaints from the public as of late has been that the college does not operate with much transparency. The board struggled to explain why the board declined to renew the previous president’s contract. The board has also voted on significant policy changes with little notice and seems to tolerate, rather than welcome, public comment. There are several concrete steps COM could take to improve transparency:
- The first step in communicating with the public is to ensure the public can attend the board meetings! The regular board meetings are currently held at 12:30PM on the fourth Monday of the month. This might be convenient for the trustees, but it isn’t convenient for the public. Many local governments hold their meetings in the evening to allow the public to attend and COM should do the same. I would work to have the meetings moved to 6 or 7 in the evenings.
- The board is limited by state law in how it can interact with the public during meetings. The public is allowed to comment, but the board generally cannot respond to those comments or have a back and forth conversation with those in attendance. However, the board can host meetings that allow for an exchange with the public and I would work with the other board members, the president, and the college attorney to ensure we allow for meaningful public discussion of college business.
- The Texas Open Meetings Act requires that the agenda for a meeting be posted at least 72 hours (3 business days) in advance. However, some local governments require additional notice be given to the public. I would call for the board to lengthen this period of time to at least a full calendar week.
- The board should require a second reading of policy changes before voting. This would mean that a policy change would be introduced during a regularly scheduled monthly meeting, but the board would be required to hold off on voting on that measure until the next regularly scheduled monthly meeting. This change would allow time for the board to gather information and public input before holding a vote.