Changing the meeting time of the Thousand Oaks school district Board of Education by an hour is an attempt to "snuff out" parents' voices and prevent them from easily coming to meetings, according to one of the board members.
"This is a family community," said Conejo Valley Unified School District board member Elaine McKearn. By changing the open session, which contains a public comment period, from 7:30 to 6:30 p.m., families will no longer be able to have dinner together if they want to attend board meetings, McKearn said.
McKearn said she suspects that parents who came to voice their opposition to a school-to-career program at a recent meeting upset those board members who support children's learning through vocational experiences. McKearn added she is against the career program.
"[Some] board members are again trying to squish parent input by suspending the current . . . starting time," she said.
Vice President Dorothy Beaubien said the board is not trying to be "anti-family."
"We don't have a great many parents come unless it is an important issue," Beaubien said. "This way, the one-hour difference might allow students to be able to come to our meetings, as well as staff. Teachers and principals put in long workdays, and to be at a meeting until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. is just very long."
She added that many districts have afternoon meetings and that if the new schedule, which will be voted on at tonight's board meeting, doesn't work, it can be changed.
The board also will vote on whether to raise the cost of school lunches by 10 cents at elementary schools and 25 cents at the secondary level.
If the board approves the increase, lunch prices, which have not been changed in three years, will go from $1.65 to $1.75 in the elementary schools and from $2.25 to $2.50 at secondary schools. Discounts will be given for purchase of 20-meal blocks.