FRANCIS HOWELL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Nov. 12, 2021

Dear staff, families and community members:
 
We are implementing a new sign-up process for those who wish to address the Board during the Patron Comments portion of Board of Education meetings. 
 
Beginning with the November 18, 2021, Board meeting, patrons will be able to sign up to speak 24 hours in advance by submitting a Patron Comment Request Form online. Please bookmark the link now, but note that the form will not accept responses until 24 hours prior to the start of open session. For the November 18 Board meeting, the electronic form will begin accepting responses at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17. Physical patron comment cards will no longer be distributed at Board meetings, but ChromeBooks will be available in the lobby beginning at 5:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting for patrons who wish to sign up in person.
 
We understand that there may be some questions as we implement this new system. Answers for questions we’ve anticipated are below, but please reach out to communications@fhsdschools.org if you would like information about a topic that is not addressed in the FAQ below.
 
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to improve the Patron Comment process. We look forward to your feedback!
 
Frequently Asked Questions
 
Why is the District making this change?
Recent Board meetings have attracted a growing number of patrons who wish to address the Board during the Patron Comments portion of the meeting. To increase the likelihood of securing a spot in the speaking queue, many patrons would arrive 2-3 hours prior to the Board meeting and wait outside so they could be at the front of the line when the doors opened. In response, the District is implementing an electronic pre-registration process that provides the following benefits:

  • Convenience to patrons - It is no longer necessary for patrons to stand in line outside hours before the meeting starts to secure a speaking spot.

  • Safety of our patrons and staff - As we head into winter, we do not want patrons to be exposed to frigid temps, rain and snow while waiting for the doors to open. We also want to avoid any safety concerns that may arise as groups with impassioned and opposing viewpoints gather in an unsupervised space on District property.

  • Fairness for all - All electronic Patron Comment Request Forms are automatically time stamped by Google, which prevents any confusion about speaking order. 
 
How will I know my speaking order?
The order of speakers (with just first name and last initial to protect personal information) will be available on the District website when the Patron Comment Request Form opens. The link to view speaking order will be shared in next week’s communication. In addition, the speaking order will be displayed on a monitor in the lobby just outside the Board meeting room beginning at 5:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting.  
 
If I sign up to speak, what time do I need to arrive at the Board meeting?
The Patron Comments portion of the meeting is typically one of the first items on the Board’s agenda. We ask that speakers are seated in the Board meeting room by the time the meeting begins (typically 6:30 p.m.) There is no need to arrive early to line up; there will not be any physical patron comment cards. The Board President will call speakers forward in the order they signed up online via the Patron Comments Request Form. (Form will be available 24 hours prior to the start of the Board meeting.) 
 
What if I do not have internet access?
Patrons can visit a local library or the District Administration office (4545 Central School Road, St. Charles) during normal business hours on the day of the meeting to utilize a computer with internet access. Physical patron comment cards will no longer be distributed at Board meetings, but ChromeBooks will be available in the lobby beginning at 5:45 p.m. on the day of the meeting for patrons who wish to sign up in person.