The School Committee on May 10 addressed what Vice Chair Christopher Scriven described as issues, including a morale problem, which had ultimately led to Chair Christopher Howard’s resignation.
Scriven asked that a discussion of committee protocol be placed on the agenda.
“I appreciated all that Chris did for us and the direction he moved us in, but going forward, I think we need to have a discussion and ask some questions of ourselves about what we want to be going forward,” Scriven said.
His preference is to concentrate on the district’s mission statement supporting providing students with a high-quality education that promotes student success and responsible citizenship.
“I would like to ask the committee what do we want for individuals and what do we want, collectively for our group?” he said. “To say that we have some morale issues is an understatement.”
He wants to see a continuing discussion of reasonable protocols and procedures to which the committee should adhere. Rather than being a question of getting along with other members, Scriven explained it as a search for the goal of the committee and how members fit in to accomplish things together.
“By no means is this an effort to keep someone quiet or keep them from getting information that they want to [put out there],” Scriven said. “It’s about how do we function most effectively as a committee?”
The frequency in which members reach out to administration – for whatever reason – which has been disproportionate from some members of the committee, which keeps those officials from accomplishing other things.
Member Dawn Byers said, rhetorically, what the best avenue would be toward finding information she might need. She also said there should be a way to discover if a member has a problem with something another member said, how best should those interpersonal issues be addressed and worked out.
Approaching the end of his first year on the committee, Glen DiGravio said he has had no problems with other members.
“You guys have all treated me great,” he said. “Thanks for bearing with me and … if this needs to be improved, then to me, it’s only going to get better because I expected it to be much more negative than it’s been.”
Scriven had expressed his incredulity at, arriving to the joint meeting with the two select boards over the budget, only to find out a member had reached out to one board and come up with a deal.
“Is that how we want to operate?” he asked. “I don’t have the answers, but I have questions.”
Hillary Kniffen suggested that, in a couple of weeks there might be another committee. Michelle Bourgelas aggreed.
“I’m not disagreeing with things that you’re saying, but I think it might be a good idea to table this until we have our full committee that we will have after the tow election,” Kniffen said, suggesting that members be asked to propose a few norms they want to see and discuss at a June meeting.
Scriven said he was in complete agreement with that suggestion. Beth Stafford agreed it would be an important thing to do.
“Let’s try to remember the positive reasons we want to be here,” Bourgelas said. “A lot of good things happen at this school … there’s a lot of good people here. … There’s just been too much negative things at these meetings.”
Member David Forth said serving on the committee has been one of the greatest honors and privileges of his life, of which he is very proud as he has learned a lot from it.
Building a rapport with other members over coffee has been very helpful, he said.
“I might not always agree with your position or your vote, but I respect you and your character and your position, and I respect your vote,” he said of his fellow committee members. “We have a great group of people and I try to remember that and try to … ask what’s my role to help improve upon that.”