Winter 2015

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Winter 2015 issue of Trustee

Question: May the contents or sequence order of agenda items proposed to be discussed at  a Board meeting be varied  or changed?


Answer:   Yes. An agenda is merely a guide to what will be discussed at a properly convened Board meeting. Unless otherwise specified in a library board’s by-Laws, items or the order of discussion can be changed by a majority of the Board, either by acquiescence or formal vote. Items can be added, omitted, tabled, amended or deleted, all at the discretion of a majority of the Board at a properly convened meeting. The fact that over a period of time the sequence of items listed for discussion on an agenda has become institutionalized is not a barrier which precludes changing that sequence, whether temporarily or permanently, should a majority of the Board so desire.


Should the by-laws specify adherence to a certain sequence that the agenda must follow, if a permanent change to that sequence is desired by a majority of the Board in order to provide greater flexibility, this can be accomplished in several ways:


1) It would be in order to introduce an amendment in the manner specified in the By-Laws if advance notification to do so is required, and then to vote on the matter at a subsequent properly convened public meeting. However, even though such a matter may be scheduled for discussion at a future meeting, it should not be considered a barrier to temporary changes in the order of business to be conducted at a particular meeting;


 2) Alternatively the by-law provision could be amended by adding wording which makes it clear  that the format indicated in the by-laws is only a guide, and that the sequence or order of discussion is subject to change at any properly convened Board meeting, whether by acquiescence or formal vote of a majority of the Board. No doubt that sequence specified in the by-laws may be based on various standard models which appear from time to time in books or articles which offer guidance on conduct of board meetings. That should not be construed to mean that a board cannot conduct its meetings in a manner which a majority feels is conducive to furthering meaningful discussion to effectuate disposal of required business or in an order which is more appropriate to satisfying the Open Meeting Law’s requirements for transparency by conducting business at a time during the meeting which will encourage greater attendance by the public.


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