Empowered by suggestions from a state-level advocacy group, the school committee recently unveiled changes to existing operating protocols intended to shape power-sharing relations between school administrators and elected board members.
“I think these are all things we are currently doing as a committee, but it helps to spell out what our roles are,” said committee chairwoman Tina Belanger, who in recent months had taken the lead in updating the original framework.
The revisions stemmed from a mid-summer workshop attended by committee members and led by Dorothy Presser, field director for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
That July 15 seminar, conducted in the chapel meeting house at the Cocasset River Recreation Area on Mill Street, offered board veterans and administration officials a chance to bond with freshmen members while helping develop a collective identity and revisiting strategic goals and objectives.
As a mission statement, the protocol outlines a broad vision for the local school district while clarifying the complimentary roles of administrators, faculty and elected board members in three specific areas:
- Supporting the educational welfare and well-being of students;
- Demonstrating professional and collegial relations with one another;
- Establishing and maintaining effective communication.
In addition, the document provides standards of decorum for school officials in executing their duties that include fact-based decision making through official channels and discourages what Belanger characterized as independent “grandstanding.”
The document also serves as a guide for conducting school board meetings and accepting public input.
“A school committee meeting is a business meeting held in public — not a public meeting,” the text reads. “We will make every effort to ensure the meetings are effective and efficient.”
Finally, the proposed changes reaffirm the need for school officials to work collaboratively with municipal officials in building support for district goals.
“We have a high-functioning school committee,” Superintendent Amy Berdos observed. “When you actively collaborate with other town boards it makes such a difference.”
Freshman school board member Brett Ruter applauded Belanger for her work in drafting a revised document for board members to consider.
“This is no small undertaking,” Ruter said. “I’m just very grateful you took a stab at it.”
Board members accepted Belanger’s suggestion to contemplate the suggested changes before formally endorsing them at a future meeting.