Ask Joe Eisner: See Joe’s Answers to Four Common Questions

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Q: To discuss a personnel matter a library board held a properly convened executive session which two board members were unable to attend. Is it appropriate to disclose to them what was discussed in executive session?

A: Yes. To maintain good relationships as well as to keep the entire Board informed regarding business at hand, unless there is some sort of schism on the Board, it would be good practice to let the two members who were not in attendance know what the gist of the discussion was at the executive session they missed. This would be particularly important if no formal vote was taken in executive session and thus no written record was required. In accordance with the provisions of the Open Meetings Law, the minutes of an executive session need only be recorded if a formal vote took place. Otherwise, minutes of such a session need only indicate the time and date of the session, the statement “No formal action was taken”, and the time of adjournment.

Q: The Library’s Negotiating Committee is about to meet with the bargaining agent to discuss a new contract, but one of the Committee members is unable to attend. Can the Board President appoint a temporary replacement member?

A: If a majority of the Board authorized the President to make the appointment to the Negotiations Committee, but without reference as to any further power to replace a member who could not attend, it would be best to seek that authority at a subsequent regular public meeting of the Board, even though this might delay the ability of that Committee to undertake its mission of conducting negotiations. If there will indeed be a delay in meeting with the bargaining agent, timely notice should be provided and the reason for the delay should be made known.

Q. Is a school district public library board required to submit an annual request for an increase in the appropriation last approved by school district voters?

A. No. It is entirely within the discretion of the library board to decide that an increase in the library appropriation is not required, and to not submit any such request to voters at the annual scheduled election.
The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained.

Q. How often is a public or association library board required to meet?

A. “The boards of trustees of public, free association and Indian libraries shall hold regular meetings at least quarterly and such boards shall fix the day ad hour for holding such meetings” (Education Law s260(5)).

Questions posted within Joe’s Q&A articles are simply those which come up frequently and are kept to generalities.

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