By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - After months of back to back controversies, the Muscogee County School Board was all ears for the first time in years.
Unlike normal meetings, last night's V.O.I.C.E Forum gave parents a chance to ask questions and voice concerns without an agenda or prior consent.
School Board At Large Member Cathy Williams says the forum kicked off a new age of transparency for the district.
"They thought that having these forums and giving people an opportunity to have dialogue with the Board and the administration would be helpful," Williams says..
But critics of the district say that although it is a step in the right direction, the V.O.I.C.E Forum is not enough.
"I think it's a real small baby step and they have a lot more to learn," State Senator Josh McKoon says.
McKoon is an outspoken critic of the School Board's recent actions. He says issues like the Board's no bid legal contracts, the lengthy superintendent search and now the possible closings of schools, deserve more public discussion...Much like how the Georgia Legislature works.
"You're given unfettered access to the committee, you're allowed to speak your mind and you're allowed to speak as long as you want," McKoon says.
Some parents say they have trouble reaching School Board members and it's a problem we have run into as well. NBC 38 has left numerous unreturned message to certain board members, with the exception of Williams, who says it's her job to answer to the public.
"I try to be as accessible as I can, I answer all phone calls, all Facebook messages, all texts, all knocks on my door. I think that they hired me and they are really the people I am accountable to," Williams says.
There will be two more V.O.I.C.E Forums this year, starting in the fall when the students return to school.
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