UnifiEd has advocated for changes to the Board of Education’s public comment rules. Shown is Elizabeth Crews speaking to the board on the issue in April. (Photo: Staff)

Citizens will have new opportunities to address the Hamilton County Board of Education during monthly meetings.

Board members approved rules last week that will allow a person to sign up to speak 30 minutes prior to a meeting’s start. The board previously only allowed those who registered three days before to speak.

UnifiEd Executive Director Elizabeth Crews said the changes will give parents, teachers and students a better opportunity to have a say in the decisions that affect them.

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“When we get the community more involved in public education and policy decisions, I think we can see some really great things,” she said.

The revised comment policy was seven months in the making but ultimately approved unanimously. Under the rules, the first three speakers who sign up the day of a meeting will be able to address the board.

Crews said there’s still work to be done to move the board closer to the progressive comment policies the Chattanooga City Council and Hamilton County Commission have in place.

The city and county bodies essentially allow anyone who attends a meeting three minutes to address them without signing up.

“This one isn’t as great as those, but it’s a start,” Crews said.

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