Three Boards / Committees – One Meeting
The Select Board, School Committee, and Finance Committee held their first joint meeting this Wednesday. Many communities in the Commonwealth routinely hold these session which are often called a ‘Tri-Board’ meeting. Sam Tyler served as Moderator as Town Moderator William Mayer was not available. Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter took minutes for the discussion.
Select Board Chair Mark Ahronian called the joint session to order. Fourteen of the possible seventeen members were in attendance. The meeting started with each person introducing themselves and sharing what they hoped to gain from this discussion. The topics varied, a few themes seemed to emerge: “Better understanding of others’ priorities,” “Open and frank dialogue / communication,” and “Collaborate to make the best decisions for our community.” Mr. Tyler introduced himself last and set forth the format for the evening’s discussion.
Each Board / Committee Chair shared their group’s high-level charge:
- The School Committee: 1) Hires / evaluates the Superintendent of Schools, 2) Develops the Public Schools Budget, and 3) Develops education policies.
- The Finance Committee: 1) Advises / recommends town-wide budgets, 2) Develops financial policies, and 3) Recommends Capital spending plans
- The Select Board: 1) The Executive Branch of Town Government, 2) Appoints non-elected committees / members, 3) Approves funding. Each Board member acts as a liaison with the various town departments and committees.
Mr. Tyler moderated the discussion that focused on what is working well with the current budget and communication protocols and areas that could be improved.
A robust discussion had many participants sharing their points of view. A variety of perspectives were shared. Mr. Tyler kept the conversation civil and focused on the meeting’s agenda. Two areas of concern seemed to emerge: better 2-way communications among all three groups, and a town-wide strategic plan that would guide each group to a common goal.
One specific idea was to appoint a working group for the purpose of crafting a vision / strategic plan.
Those in attendance agreed to continue the discussion in early April. At that meeting, each Board/Committee will bring 2 – 3 items to advance the dialogue begun at this meeting. The meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
The discussion is worth watching in its entirety on HCAT.