Training sessions for present or would-be chairpersons of the town’s volunteer boards and committees are slated to commence by mid-September, Assistant Town Manager Michael Johns told selectmen this week.
Johns said the sessions will be held at town hall and feature a team approach, with the program delivered by an experienced board chairman paired with a staff member.
“I think that gives you a more enriching experience,” he explained.
Selectmen Chairwoman Leah Gibson, who has long sought to formalize expectations for those serving the town in an elected or appointed capacity, suggested someone from the town clerk’s office as best-suited for this role.
Gibson also advised Johns to limit sessions to 60-75 minutes in length.
Although not finalized, Johns said the sessions would likely include the following topics:
- The respective roles of board chairpersons and professional staffers;
- Encouraging divergent views to aid in decision making;
- Meeting management and record keeping;
- Conduct, etiquette and expectations;
- Building consensus along with positive relationships.
Johns did not specify whether the training would be mandatory.
In a related matter, selectmen voted unanimously to adopt a long-awaited overhaul of the town’s 10-year-old board and committee handbook, seen as a users’ manual for elected and appointed officials.
Similar to workplace rules of conduct for town employees, the revised document outlines expectations for etiquette, behavior and civility while serving in an official capacity and will be required reading for anyone serving on a town board or committee.
Johns said the new handbook will be distributed electronically along with pending reappointment notices to members of town boards and committees who will then be expected to review and sign a form to that effect.
Gibson said she wanted to make certain that a tracking system was in place to verify that all committee members had actually reviewed the new handbook, and that those forms remain on file at the town clerk’s office.