Guidelines for the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional District School Committee
In the interest of functioning as an effective and productive deliberating committee, in support of all students in our District, we affirm the following guidelines for the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional District School Committee.
We believe that we should model the highest form of respect and collegiality within Committee deliberations. We will strive to reach decisions by consensus, discussing ideas with civility and disagreeing without acrimony. Committee deliberations are the time for advocacy and for the expression of differing viewpoints and concerns by the School Committee.
The Superintendent and the School Committee represent the educational and developmental needs and interests of all students in the District and place those interests above all others in the decisions we make.
It is the responsibility of the School Committee to oversee and vote on the budget, create policy, hire and evaluate the Superintendent, and participate in the long-term planning and the vision for the District. The School Committee also approves the hiring of the Director of Business Services, Director of Student Services, legal counsel, Treasurer, school physician, nurses, and the recording secretary. (PolicyBBAA)
It is the responsibility of the Superintendent to manage the day-to-day operations of the District, including overseeing the hiring, evaluation, and handling of personnel issues. The School Committee evaluates the Superintendent’s effectiveness in these matters.
We will refer any important questions or concerns received from members of the community to the Superintendent. The Superintendent, not any School Committee member, has the authority to investigate. It is not the role of the School Committee to resolve issues**.**
When a constituent brings a concern to a School Committee member, we will listen respectfully and seek to gain a sense of the efforts they have made on their own to address the problem. We encourage problem-solving at the most direct level following the “chain of command” and will support constituents in addressing concerns directly with the administrator who can help to resolve the issue.
We acknowledge that all School Committee meetings are meetings of the School Committee members elected from each town and that while these meetings are held in public, they are not public meetings. This is equivalent to citizens being able to observe our representatives deliberating at the State House, but citizens do not participate in the discussions. There may be times when the School Committee and/or the District hold public meetings to give more opportunity for public comments on important issues.
We make every effort to ensure that meetings are effective and efficient. To that end, we acknowledge the importance of subcommittees, and we and the Superintendent agree to utilize them to focus on specific topics in depth and to prepare for the presentation, deliberation, and possible action by the full School Committee.
We will conduct business with a set agenda published at least 48 hours in advance. Emerging business shall be addressed in subsequent meetings through a planned agenda; unless it is determined by the School Committee Chair that it would be detrimental to delay the issue. Ideally, requests to add items to an agenda shall be made to the School Committee Chair a week prior to the meeting.
We will attend meetings well-prepared, having read the packets, to deliberate issues on the agenda, and participate in efficient decision-making. We will engage in critical thinking, listening to differing viewpoints prior to making a Committee decision.
Each member will have an equal opportunity to express their views and opinions and to relay their input in a brief, concise, and topic-focused manner. School Committee members are recognized by the Chair before speaking.
Remarks must be courteous in language and behavior, with a focus on the issue and the facts rather than on personalities.
School Committee members will vote according to their convictions and will uphold and support the decisions of the majority of the Committee. They will not actively undermine the work of the majority. Members recognize that authority rests with the decision of the School Committee. Freedom of speech allows School Committee members the right to respectfully express their own opinions to the public, but they should clearly state when they are not speaking in their role as a School Committee member.
School Committee members will be mindful of personal bias. It is the duty of members to be scrupulous about identifying and avoiding conflicts of interest and to abstain from discussions and votes about those topics. Members may contact the MA State Ethics Commission if they have questions. (https://www.mass.gov/orgs/state-ethics-commission)
School Committee members will respect the confidentiality of Executive Sessions.
The Superintendent and the School Committee recognize the importance of proactive communication. If School Committee members have questions or concerns, they agree to contact the Superintendent or Chair well in advance of a meeting. We strive to make sure there are no surprises.
Requests for information will be channeled through the Superintendent and/or the School Committee Chair rather than directly to district staff.
We will ensure that we do not breach the Open Meeting Law by deliberating outside of duly convened meetings of the Committee. Members must exercise caution when using email and social media to avoid accidentally reaching a quorum.
School Committee members, recognizing the importance of professional growth and development, will participate in experiences designed to further their knowledge and understanding and to advance the work of our public schools. Members are encouraged to attend the regular professional development meetings offered by the Committee.
The Superintendent and School Committee recognize the importance of working collaboratively with town officials to improve our schools, and we will actively seek ways to enlist their support in our efforts.
School Committee members will exercise discretion and good judgment if they maintain a website, social media page, or blog to ensure they are supporting the best interests of all students. In our role as School Committee members and instructional leaders in the community, we will ensure that our communication is appropriate for all ages.