Board tweaks quorum policy

PARKERSBURG -Wood County school board officials continued Tuesday to tweak a policy affecting quorum at meetings. Board members have been working on a policy to allow members more flexibility to attend by phone.

Jim Fox said board members travel considerably and want to be flexible.

“This policy speaks to that issue,” he said.

The quorum policy became an issue last year when members failed to meet quorum for a meeting. Two members were physically present and two others were on the phone. But the policy requires three members be physically present.

The failure to meet quorum is a rarity for board members, according to officials. Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent, said that was the only meeting she can recall canceled due to a lack of quorum.

Board members continued discussing changing policy 1120.2: “Rules and Regulations Governing the Wood County Board of Education and the Rules Governing the Conducting of Board Meetings,” to no longer require a physical quorum.

The board took no action on the policy as it still is under comment period. The board did make some changes Tuesday to put the issue in better context.

Under the revised policy only one member needs to be physically present.

Board member John Marlow was concerned with the wording, noting board members would make every effort to attend meetings physically.

Woodward said board members are trying to word the policy so it can’t be used as an excuse for not attending meetings.

“They don’t want it misconstrued as they don’t have to go, they can call in,” she said. “The intent is to be present if possible.”

Superintendent Pat Law said he believes state law would allow the move, citing West Virginia code 6-9A-2, part 4, which defines a meeting to include “telephone conference or other electronic means.”

School board President Tim Yeater said part 7 of the code, which defines quorum as “a gathering of a simple majority of the constituent membership of a governing body” could be interpreted to mean a physical presence of at least three members is required.

Woodward said if the change is approved, it would likely stand in line with other requirements around the state.

“Normally, when they make changes to a policy they are careful to look at what other counties are doing and what is legal or illegal.”

Woodward said board members attend state meetings and stay abreast of what the other 54 counties are doing, along with the state.

The changes are slated to be considered at the Feb. 12 meeting.