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Work-study sessions will be once a month

Beginning in January, Red Wing School Board meetings will look a little different. At its Monday evening meeting, the board approved 6-0 new board procedures which will make the first meeting of each month a work-study session.

These sessions willtake place in the Twin Bluff Middle School library and will give the board enough space to sit around a table — rather than in a row like in the City Hall council chambers. This, Supt. Karsten Anderson said, would be more conducive to in-depth conversations and give the board the opportunity to fully discuss issues.

Most of the board's business and action items would take place during the second meeting of the month, which would be normal business meetings.

The suggestion came out of the board's quarterly workshop, which was conducted in May. Then, Ted Blaesing led the board in a training session on ways that the board could work together better.

However, this arrangement would make videotaping the meetings — which is done to stream the meetings on Channel 6 and on the district's website — more difficult, Anderson said.

"In some ways, it's nice not to videotape," he said, citing the freedom to sit in a circle, talk and foster good discussions.

"At same time, (it's good to) have a public review of what we're talking about," he said.

Board members Steve Anderson and Janie Farrar raised concerns about public accessibility if they don't record the meetings. Anderson asked whether the work-study sessions would still be open to the press. The board assured him they would be; all gatherings that involve a quorum or more of an elected body — whether official or not — must be open to the public.

Emily Baldwin suggested just making sure detailed notes are taken of the meetings.

However, in the end, the board agreed to audio record the work-study sessions.

"It's less intrusive (than video tape) but still gets to public transparency," Board Chair Heidi Jones said.

Other changes included in the new board operating procedures include: moving non-controversial items — such as overnight trip requests — to the consent agenda; providing regular updates about ongoing issues such as facilities planning; and setting guidelines for board member visits to schools.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.