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Board governance focus for meeting
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Should members of the Manteca Board of Trustees be allowed to use their smart phones during closed- and open-session meetings? Under what instances should board members be permitted to deploy their electronic devices, if at all?

What constitute a conflict of interest for trustees? What are the perimeters by which the trustees should act so as not to jeopardize their positions and that of the people they serve?

Those questions and other issues will be hammered out at the Tuesday, Jan. 13, meeting of the newly reconstituted school board. There is just one item on the agenda for that meeting, and listed as “presentation on board governance.” Presiding over the discussion will be a legal counsel for the school district.

The presentation could presage changes or updates on existing policies. The necessity of doing that was brought to the forefront in one of the fall meetings of the board when the language of one of the board policies was challenged by an incident that involved electronic devices. The incident demonstrated a classic example of 21st-century technology being ahead of policies put in place before the explosion of instant communication and social media proliferation.

The current Board Bylaws Policy No. 9012 governing electronic communication reads: “As all communications during a public Board meeting are subject to the California Public Records Act, Board members will not use electronic communication devices during Board meetings to communicate either internally or externally.”

But with today’s smart phones more than just communication devices, but sources of information at one’s fingertips, this could one possible area waiting for refinement with respect to this policy. One example that would illustrate the issue concerned Trustee Sam Fant of Area 1 who deployed his smart phone to research the issue of minimum wage in California during board discussions.

Tuesday’s meeting will be held in the board room at the district office building at 2271 West Louise Avenue with closed session to begin at 6 p.m. followed by the meeting that is open to the public at 7 p.m.