In rather surprising news, the School Board last Tuesday evening made the unilateral decision to not continue to participate in a Joint Subcommittee with the BoS. The committee was formed in August 2014.
From the 8/14/2014 School Board/ BoS full boards meeting:
Board of Selectmen/School Board Joint Meeting:
A. BoS/School Board Subcommittee: The BoS discussed the formation of a standing joint SB/BoS subcommittee to explore opportunities to improve communication, coordination and sharing of resources particularly in relation to recreation facilities. Discussion took place regarding the number of members from each board, as well as how often the subcommittee would meet. Consensus was reached that two members from each Board would sit on the subcommittee, and meet three or four times per year, or as the subcommittee saw fit, and both full boards would meet two times per year.
Richard R. Brown moved, and Celeste Burns seconded a motion, to form the joint Board of Selectmen and School Board subcommittee. School Board members on the subcommittee will be Richard R. Brown and Lauren Lavoie Sturgeon. The motion carried unanimously.
Paul Punturieri moved, and Chris Shipp seconded a motion, to form the joint Board of Selectmen and School Board subcommittee. BoS members on the subcommittee will be Chris Shipp and Paul Punturieri. The motion carried unanimously.
As a primary proponent of this subcommittee, I was disappointed to hear this news relayed to us through Selectmen Beadle who attended the School Board meeting. I was especially disappointed being blindsided, in that the issue was not first presented to the subcommittee directly and action was taken unilaterally.
The rationale presented by School Board member Richard Brown was that it would be more efficient for both boards to meet in full twice a year and make decisions on the spot. The rest of the board agreed and the decision to not continue their participation was taken.
The subcommittee has met seven times in 15 months and last met on October 8th 2015. We were in the process of developing a joint marketing strategy and were planning on presenting some ideas to the full boards in January. The committee was also successful in maximizing the use of school facilties for recreation over the summer months.
There are many issues that will effect both boards going forward, and in my experience over the years, ten people ( both boards) will have a hard time getting to the heart of the matter on any issue without the insight of a working group to provide background and context.
I believe the sub committee added value to the process and was a step in the right direction toward a " one town" approach. Keeping an avenue open for dialogue and fact finding was a good idea and I do not agree that it should be sacrificed on the grounds that it was inefficient. Municipal boards after all, are not large corporations. We work for the benefit of the public, in public, and sometimes the process can be slow an laborious.
The full boards will meet at the next School Board meeting on December 8th. I am not sure why because as previously planned, the School Board will attend a BoS meeting in January. In any event, the " vetting" of how we can better work together to market our Town and School will be missing when we do meet and when issues do occur that effect both boards, it will have to wait for a joint meeting. In my opinion, this slows the process of getting to decisions, not accelerates it.
Overall, this is a loss for taxpayers.