Out-of-sight again

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The board of trustees needs to be transparent even when the law doesn’t require it.

The Alamo Colleges board of trustees discussed the legislative agenda for 2017 in private and then approved the agenda in a regular board meeting 44 miles from this college in New Braunfels.

Three trustees, Chancellor Bruce Leslie and Leo Zuniga, associate vice chancellor of communications, discussed the agenda 0ct. 7 in a meeting closed to the public.

The three trustees make up the board’s ad hoc legislative committee.

The decisions made at this private meeting were brought directly to the open committee meeting Oct. 11 for approval.

Their recommendations were approved with no discussion at a regular board meeting Oct. 18.

The legislative agenda outlines the issues on which district officials will lobby the Texas Legislature on behalf of the colleges.

Such an important topic should involve input from students, faculty and staff and taxpayers.

Even worse, the agenda was approved at a meeting at the Central Texas Technology Center in New Braunfels, a 45-minute drive from this college — without traffic.

So did the board consider public input at all?

While the district’s legal counsel said the committee meeting did not require public notice as a meeting under the Texas Open Meetings Act, the ad hoc committee was not prohibited from opening the meeting to the public.

Is this trustees’ idea of transparency and inclusion?

The district won the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle 2015 Platinum Award for financial transparency in spring 2015.

Trustees should copy the “best practices” of financial disclosures and open all committee meetings to the public — even if not required by law.

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