The School’s District’s Master Planning Co-Chair Rory Murphy Showed Us How to Run a Public Meeting Last Night
The heckling started early during last night’s School Board Master Planning regarding rebuilding/moving our schools. A person from the audience interrupted the meeting by shouting something about how the school’s plans would never work. Rory Murphy, co-chair of the School District Master Planning Committee, took it in stride, saying “OK. OK. Thanks for that.” He then continued forward.
During so many government meetings, the audience is chastised and told to be quiet, not clap for ideas they support, and not to “intimidate others” by showing support for something they like. Yet, Mr Murphy let it all happen… and to everyone’s benefit. He embraced the cheers from people who said that Treasure Mountain Junior High should be torn down. He welcomed the applause from people who said that the district had over reached and made too grand a plan. He was fine when people yelled in support of building a field house .
What he allowed to happen was truly a town hall, where passion was expressed and people truly felt part of something. What Mr Murphy did was trust in the people. He didn’t feel the need to control the situation and was rewarded with a great exchange of ideas from all sides.
It was the type of meeting that people will come back to because it was both interesting and fun. In fact, this type of meeting is what we need more of, if we want the public to provide input. In other meetings where the public is told to behave like a page out of Father Knows Best, it often seems like the chairperson is afraid of what the public may say.
In this case, Mr Murphy showed us that if you have a little faith in the people, they just may surprise you.