Board of Education does away with on-site school meetings

Published Sep 25, 2018 at 4:00pm

The Board of Education’s full regular meetings this school year are not being held as frequently overall nor are any scheduled on-site at schools, where large audiences often turned out for student performances and demonstrations at the start of meetings.

Meetings of the nine-seat board for the 2018-19 school year that began July 1 are every three weeks on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated, including a couple of gaps beyond three weeks, with all scheduled for the school district office at 409 Bell Road.

Previously, board meetings had typically been twice a month in the evening, while one of the meetings each month from September to June had been held at a district school with at least one session per school for the year; the other regular meeting each month during that span had been at the district office.

The school meetings especially at elementary sites usually began with student musical performances, student demonstrations of classroom programs, or students being recognized, with many parents and other family members in attendance.

However, board President Paul Fitzpatrick said Monday that part of the reason for the location change was that it was “a lot of work” for school staffs to get ready for the meetings.

It posed “an extra burden” overall on school principals and staffs including such efforts as preparing for student performances, he remarked.

He added that he and district Superintendent Peter C. Blake agreed it was “not really necessary.”

The meetings that included student performances and demonstrations usually were held in school cafeterias and auditoriums.

Fitzpatrick said of the large audiences that he “always invited them to stay” after those events for the rest of the board meetings. But those attendees typically left as soon as the events ended.

Fitzpatrick did point out, though, that if there any requests for student performances or presentations to be offered at a board meeting, the school district can “work that out.” Such requests should be brought to the district office, he added.

As for the decreased frequency of board meetings, Fitzpatrick said not as many sessions are needed to “get our jobs done.” Many matters are dealt with by board sub-committees that meet monthly, he commented, while the purpose of the full meetings includes receiving comments from the public plus passing resolutions.

The changes were approved at the board’s annual reorganizational meeting last July.

“We’ll see how it works,” Fitzpatrick said of the revised arrangement.

Among upcoming full board meeting dates scheduled at the 409 Bell Road office at 6:30 p.m.: Oct. 4 and 25; Nov. 15; Dec. 6; Jan. 3 and 24; Feb. 14; March 7 and 28; April 23; May 22; June 13 and 27. The 2018-19 year concludes next June 30. A few of the meeting dates vary in frequency because of such factors as school vacation breaks, Fitzpatrick observed.