Attorney advises Lyle board to move forward

Published 10:01 am Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reactions were a lot quieter Wednesday at the Lyle Public School Board meeting, which was a make-up session for September’s regular meeting when tempers flared and board members abruptly adjourned.

The board addressed the need for resolutions, as it began its meeting taking some legal counsel from attorney Steve Rizzi.

“As you know, the last meeting didn’t work out very well,” Rizzi said, and added the board should conduct its meetings in a “business-like fashion.”

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Rizzi urged all board members to read their school board handbooks and pay specific attention to open meeting law sin regards to private data and closed versus open discussions.

Board members asked Rizzi how to handle potential situations such as shouting matches and people speaking out of turn. According to Rizzi, the board made the right move earlier this month when it adjourned early.

“I don’t think you had any choice,” he said.

“It isn’t a free-for-all at a school board meeting,” he also said about some people’s misconceptions of free speech during board procedures.

Rizzi attended the board’s training session this Monday — in light of the recent troubles — and said the outcome was “excellent.”

However, he hopes future meetings run smoothly so the current level of negativity and misunderstanding between the board and public don’t begin to affect students’ perceptions of the school.

“If it’s negative here at the school board meeting, it’s probably going to be negative in the hallway,” Rizzi said about the situation.

And student retention is an important item, of which the board feels its enrollment projections for next year are close. Lyle has 224 students this year, up eight from last year and typical of Lyle’s enrollment for the past 10 years. In addition, Lyle’s $158,000 operating levy is up for renewal this year. Lyle residents pay about $58,000 in taxes toward that levy, with the rest coming from the state. Though the levy is about 5 percent of Lyle’s $3.2 million budget, its loss would mean more than $1 million in funding for the next 10 years.

The board passed its 2011-2012 levy certification Wednesday night at $709,680 in total, about $500,000 of which is a debt service levy, to be paid in 2012, for all school expenses. Furthermore, the vote for the renewed $158,000 levy referendum is approaching this November.