Friday, March 8, 2002
Regional school committee limits direct access to school staff
When does a restriction on direct access to school personnel dangerously impede communication and when is it needed to improve work flow? The joint Concord Public School and Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committees (RSC) grappled with this question last Tuesday evening, debating the need to amend existing policy outlining communications between committee members and school staff and administration. The issue was a response to complaints of excessive demands made on the school administrative staff by Concord RSC member Lauren Walters.
In light of some contentiousness at the previous meeting around this issue, RCS chair Cynthia Nock opened the meeting with a "request for civility." Later in the meeting, when agenda item "Non-interference Policy" came up for review, Nock suggested that the existing policy on committee-superintendent relationship could be enlarged, specifying that requests for information by committee members requiring significant work on the part of staff, be routed through the committee chairs, Cindy Nock or Pat Sennot and/or the superintendent.
Several committee members noted that such a process to streamline communication is both common courtesy and standard procedure in most town committee and other local school committees that were polled. Other members questioned the potentially restrictive nature of such a policy, that would create a wall around committee members, limiting their ability to act in the best interests of the community. Would this additional policy also inhibit school personnel from approaching school committee members? Further discussion seemed to clarify for the majority that not all communication was being restricted and that this policy did not involve school personnel's access to the committee. Rather, only those school committee requests which required significant time from staff need to be cleared through the superintendent.
The amendment passed by a vote of six to one. Concord RSC representative Lauren Walters, who had voiced strong opposition to the measure, cast the dissenting vote.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito