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Nashua dysfunction: Limiting school board comments

October 11. 2018 7:31PM

Former Democratic Congressman Mo Udall once said at a lengthy committee hearing, “Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it.”

This probably rings a bell with anyone who sat though an endless school board meeting, as board members go back and forth covering the same ground.

In an attempt to be more productive and to calm tensions among arguing members, the Nashua School Board has adopted temporary rules limiting how much each member can speak on each subject.

Board members can still weigh in, two minutes the first time they speak on a subject, and one minute the second. But then the board will close debate and vote.

We have been critical of local boards attempting to limit or eliminate public comment, but a school board limiting itself is perfectly acceptable.

Tensions on the board were so high that back in May, we urged it to take a “time-out” and act like grown-ups. Some members are reportedly not acting like grown-ups. According to a police report from last month’s meeting, member Howard Coffman “got on all fours” during a break in the meeting and shouted, “I’m going to act like a child.”

We would prefer that school board members engage in vigorous debate without such artificial limits. But the Nashua School Board has shown itself incapable of such maturity.

Limiting debate might be the only way for the board to overcome its current dysfunction.

Education Editorial Nashua

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