Friday, August 24, 2007
Carlisle School Committee to bring in new facilitator August 31
Facilitator John Littleford of Littleford and Associates will meet with the Carlisle School Committee (CSC), some teachers and administrators on Friday, August 31 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to CSC member Dale Ryder. The CSC is hiring a facilitator in response to issues raised by teachers (see "Carlisle teachers vote no confidence in Superintendent Marie Doyle," June 15, Mosquito.) The facilitator will first meet separately with administrators, teachers and the CSC, and then will meet with all of them. School committee member Dale Ryder said that Littleford is being hired for only one day, after which he will decide whether more sessions would be fruitful. Ryder said, "He brings lots of experience," adding that, "He's seen these situations before."
At meetings on August 2 and 6, the CSC had developed a list of traits they would like to see in a facilitator. At that time they discussed three possible candidates and interviewed Rob Evans of The Human Relations Service in Wellesley. Besides Evans and Littleford, the CSC considered Barger Jeutter-Robertson of Strategic Solutions International in Waynesboro, Virginia. All three have experience teaching and consulting in schools.
After the August 6 meeting, the CSC conducted subsequent facilitator interviews by phone. Ryder said that as of press time on August 22, there are no other candidates and the committee's first choice is to work with Littleford, whose consulting firm is based in both Cape Cod and Louisiana. The decision to hire him is expected to be formalized at their next meeting on August 23.
According to his web site, www.jlittleford.com, the mission of the company he founded in 1994 is: "To provide complete, customized and the highest quality management consulting services to independent and international schools and nonprofit organizations needing strategic assistance in the following areas: board governance; head compensation; teacher compensation and evaluation; strategic and financial planning; safe harbors compliance (for US-based schools); school climate and culture; managing change and transitions; team building; marketing and fundraising; and executive searches."
The CSC wanted a facilitator with experience working in similar educational situations, recognition and understanding of school cultures, effective communication, impartiality, excellent presentation skills, conflict resolution, and reasonable cost. They concluded the facilitator must be acceptable to all parties — the CSC, teachers, and Superintendent Doyle.
"It is important to get someone who is familiar in working in this kind of environment," said CSC Chair Nicole Burkel at the August 2 meeting. Doyle agreed: "The major concern is culture. You know, it's even hard for us to put our finger on what they [the teachers] are talking about, and that's one of the major issues to resolve, how the administration respects their culture."
CSC member Dale Ryder said it would be helpful to have the facilitator hired and able to interview everyone before school starts. "I do think that is a priority that we meet before school starts," said Doyle. "We can't have these broken lines."
CSC member Michael Fitzgerald said cost of a facilitator was a concern because the financial projections for next year "look scary." Doyle agreed. "That is not at the top of my criteria," said committee member, Wendell Sykes. Noting that the impact of the facilitator's failure to help resolve issues "would be huge," he said, "I don't want to go lowball on this thing." Fitzgerald pointed out that the "initial read" on the 2009 budget is that there is a "significant decline of growth in the town." He believes the school will not see an increase in next year's budget. "Layoffs," replied Sykes. Doyle explained the cost of the facilitator would possibly fall under "Professional Development."
© 2007 The