The School Committee, after conducting its post-election reorganization Monday night, May 22, turned its attention to the coming budget meeting planned for 7 p.m., Monday, June 12 in the WHRHS library.
The district is sending a letter to town administrators in both towns seeking designation of selectmen and members of other boards that would be attending the June 12 meeting.
“If we get enough people, then maybe we can get a vision in the first meeting or two, and see which direction we’re going to go in,” Chairman Bob Hayes said.
Member Robert Trotta also suggested a discussion of educational priorities such as full-day kindergarten, be included in the meeting.
“The primary thing is to find out who’s going to be involved,” said member Kevin Lynam, cautioning that without participation from enough municipal representatives, “we’re just talking to ourselves, anyway.”
Hayes said he would welcome “anyone from the towns” to attend, saying he would not mind seeing residents of both communities attend to provide input. He indicated a time limit of 90 minutes to two hours would likely be set on the duration of the session.
“It’s pretty easy to give us input on social media, but if you don’t show up for the meetings, nothing transpires,” he said.
Member Fred Small suggested that Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ruth Gilbert-Whitner might fine-tune the pillars outlined within the Student Success Budget put forth for fiscal 2017 last year.
His idea is to put forth a comparison between an estimated level-service budget and what “we need to add on and what programs” are needed.
“I think it ties in beautifully with the strategic planning process,” Gilbert-Whitner said. “Every bit of it links to the budget. … If it’s going to be successful, it’s going to need to be a joint effort by all the stake-holders.”
Hayes said he also wants to see department heads, including police and fire chiefs attend the meeting.
“Let’s talk about this and see where we’re going,” he said, also advocating the invitation of state legislators.
The School Committee’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 14, but may be rescheduled.
In reorganizing, meanwhile, the committee selected its officers and subcommittee assignments for the coming year. All current members up for election were re-elected this year.
“Essentially, for the 2017-18 school year, everybody’s a veteran,” said Gilbert-Whitner, who chaired the meeting until a chairman was elected.
Hayes returns as chairman with Small — attending remotely while away on a business trip — selected as vice chairman, Dan Cullity was chosen as secretary-clerk, Alexandra Taylor as treasurer and Trotta as assistant treasurer. Representatives to the Negotiations Subcommittee — to be joined by a municipal representative — are Hayes, Small, Trotta, Christopher Howard and Michael Jones. Small, Cullity, Jones and Robert O’Brien Jr., were tabbed to serve on the Facilities and Capital Improvement Subcommittee. Trotta, Small, Howard and Lynam will serve on the Policy Subcommittee. Jones will return to the committee’s Legislative Subcommittee, joined by Small.
“Fred, maybe we should ask if there’s anything you don’t want to do,” O’Brien joked.
“There’s one I don’t want to do,” Small said when the Mass. Association of School Committees/Mass. Association of School Superintendents joint voting delegate and alternate were chosen. Steven Bois was again selected as the voting delegate and Hayes as the alternate.
O’Brien and Trotta were chosen for a grant council to 21st Century Learning Community Grant program, for which the district is reapplying after receiving more than $750,000 in past years to fund programs for at-risk students. Small agreed to serve as an alternate. Bois returns as representative to the Pilgrim Area Collaborative, but Gilbert-Whitner will represent the district on the North River Collaborative, which has switched to a board of superintendent members.