Nacogdoches ISD administrators have put a plan in place, at least temporarily, that will limit public comment to topics only on the meeting’s agenda.

A new state law went into place Sept. 1, and board members in August asked administrators to come up with a plan for the Sept. 26 board meeting and its preceding agenda review meeting on Sept. 23.

“We’re calling it a transition plan because what we do at the September meeting may not be what this ultimately looks like in coming months,” said NISD spokesman Les Linebarger.

Regular meetings of the NISD board already contained public comment sessions limited to up to 30 minutes per meeting. Now all meetings including workshops where no votes are taken must include time for the public to address the board, under House Bill 2840 when was signed into law over the summer and became effect this month. The total time allotment has also been eliminated by HB 2840.

“Since NISD already held a public comment during monthly meetings, there will be little change, other when completing the form prior to the meeting,” Linebarger said. “The person wishing to address the board must select an agenda item to address.”

Comment forms must be returned before the start of agenda reviews, workshops and special meetings. For regular monthly meetings, the form must be turned it before open session at 6 p.m., Linebarger said. While no overall time limit may be set, the board has the choice to limit individual speakers.

HB 2840 was authored by District 40 state Rep. Terry Canales of Edinburg in an effort to expand public comment sessions statewide. Previous state law did not require any time for residents and taxpayers to address local governmental boards.

The new law also allows anyone who is addressing the board through a translator double the amount of time to speak “to ensure that non-English speakers receive the same opportunity to address the body.” NISD on occasions has parents address the board in Spanish though a translator.

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