Listening to taxpayers during public meetings should be something that school board trustees should have to do. After all, they are working for those taxpayers, right?

Wrong.

The El Paso Independent School District board of trustees wants to change the way comments from the public are heard. EPISD says they want to do away with long meetings and usher in more efficient meetings.

Right now, members of the public can address the board during the public forum portion of the meeting and sign up to address the board for each individual item on the meeting agenda, if they so wish. Speakers are given three minutes per item to address the board and the period of public comment, according to EPISD policy, can last "up to one hour."

Under a new proposal, you could only address the board once per topic, and if group of five or more people want to address the board on the same topic, they would have to designate one speaker for all of them. Seven El Paso area school districts limit public participation to a designated time, usually at the start of the meeting, ranging anywhere from 15 minutes at Fabens to 30 minutes or more at Ysleta.

The EPISD teachers union is not happy with the proposed changes, saying the district is just trying to filter out what they don’t want to hear. EPISD officials say they just want to avoid long meetings.

The change can only happen if trustees approve the policy, but it's not known when the board will act on the policy changes proposal. This week’s meeting on Tuesday, January 22, will be held 5 p.m. at EPISD's central offices, 6531 Boeing, if you want to go and tell the board what you think about them taking away your time to talk.