At the April 24, 2017 WGSD Board meeting the members approved unanimously the switch from individual committee meetings to a Committee of the Whole format, commonly referred to as “COW”.
The change/addition to the policy on committees was as follows:
The Board may maintain the following standing committees. However, the Board may also choose to act as a “Committee of the Whole” in lieu of individual standing committees. The decision to have a Committee of the Whole or standing committees shall be made at the annual reorganization meeting.
Anyone can view this policy at the Board Docs portal.
One of the main reasons for the change was because the previous format did not allow for any communication between individual committee members outside of a public meeting. Prior to this change committees were comprised of only two of the five board members and an alternate. As a result, discussions between the two committee members equaled a majority of the committee membership and would violate Wisconsin’s open meetings law.
Even though committees can not take action for the full board, committees did often make recommendations to the full board for discussion and action at the monthly business meetings. These committee meetings were also held in the presence of the other three board members, and their input was encouraged. As a result, very little has changed. The small change is significant in that it will allow the board to operate more efficiently while still complying with state laws and maintaining transparency.