2017-05-04 / Views

Invite all who will come to committee meetings

our opinion

Our priority is to have local government be as open as possible, so the thought of having a committee representing Suttons Bay Public School meeting privately is bothersome.

That isn’t to say that the members of the Facilities Improvement Team aren’t dedicated. We truly believe their hearts are in the right place. They are looking to find a solution to a perplexing problem for the school district, which finds itself with too much building and not enough students.

What to do with all that empty space, which can punch a hole in a District’s budget?

The first go-around didn’t work too well, as the administation and the Board of Education determined that voters would likely support construction of a new recreational facility and community pool. Again, hearts in the right place. But not a practical use of public funds. The concept was dropped before a request for more millage. We commend the board for listening to constituents.

Now the District has expanded the group looking into the unused facilities problem to include more community members, which is good, but their meetings are not posted. So there was a step toward outreach, then a step back.

Trustee Kim Eike questioned whether having the group meet behind closed doors represents a violation of the state Open Meetings Act (OMA). It’s a good question.

Certainly having the group meet privately violates the spirit of the OMA. It doesn’t take much to post the group’s meetings. Then community members have an opportunity to attend.

Superintendent Chris Nelson said the private meetings were appropriate because the Board of Education would need to approve its recommendations before they can be implemented. But planning commissions are also recommending bodies, and must adhere to the OMA.

The public is better off for it.

The facilities group should post their meetings. We suggest they also invite everyone they know to attend, pin posters throughout town and advertise meetings on the new digital sign at the school. Send us a schedule, and we’ll publish meeting times and dates in our calendar.

The question of what to do with empty buildings is big for the Suttons Bay community. Why not invite people in on the ground floor?

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