School Board to permit public to attend meetings in-person 

ELLSWORTH — In a special meeting followed by a workshop Dec. 22, the Ellsworth School Board hired current technology instructor Laura Johns as director of instruction of technology and vetted a policy that would allow in-person public participation at board meetings during the pandemic. The board will vote on the policy at its Jan. 12 meeting.

Highlighting the in-person attendance issue were technical streaming snafus, with members of the public asking on the Ellsworth High School Facebook page: “Where is the meeting?” and “Did this meeting take place?”

The meeting and workshop were broadcast on the City of Ellsworth YouTube channel, although the workshop session was delayed. Neither was broadcast on Facebook.

Superintendent Dan Higgins discussed a policy draft that would open seats for five people apart from board members and administrators in the council chambers, where the meetings are held. This would maintain COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and follows the council’s model for its meetings, Higgins explained.

“The goal is to provide access that is as equitable as possible,” he said, laying out guidelines that would ask members of the public to email board Chairwoman Jennifer Alexander ([email protected]) their request to attend in advance. For last-minute participants, that email should go to Elizabeth Alteri ([email protected]), who handles public comments emailed in during meetings.

If more than five members of the public want to attend, the overflow would wait in the hallway leading to the council chamber; overflow from there would wait in their cars and be summoned in by a board member as space allowed.

Higgins said the policy will be tweaked following the board workshop and posted online before the Jan. 12 board vote.

The board also approved a teacher’s sick leave extension request 4-0. Board member Kelly McKenney was absent from the meeting.


Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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