May 22, 2019 Professional Dev. Workshop

Quincy School Committee Workshop for Professional Development

Coddington Building
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 6:45 pm


Participate in a Professional Development Workshop Conducted by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC)


Quincy School Committee
School Committee Professional Development - May 22, 2019

School Committee Professional Development was held on May 22, 2019 at 8:00 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were Mr. Anthony Andronico, Mr. James DeAmicis, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mrs. Emily Lebo, Vice Chair. Also attending Mr. James Hardy from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mr. Hardy shared the compilation of the Protocols Worksheet, 4 of 6 School Committee members completed prior to the meeting. Some of the items raised as issues are in the Policy manual. Mr. Hardy reviewed video of some School Committee meetings online, it seems that members lose interest in the presentations after a certain length of time. It might be worthwhile to consider limit presentation length or setting expectations as well as having technology devices at each place.

The process for developing and placing items on the agenda seems to be unclear, as three of four respondents identified that as an issue. In addition, getting questions answered prior to the meeting is an area of confusion. Part of the issue may be the learning curve for new members. Subcommittee information is not distributed ahead of time; School Committee presentations are also not shared ahead of time. One suggestion is developing a year-long agenda, specifying topics of interest for presentations and setting expectations for the presentations.

The layout of the School Committee room seems good, as well as the lighting and acoustics. Mr. Hardy noted that the chair should announce that the meeting is a public meeting and being recorded/broadcast.

All members agreed that Subcommittee meeting agendas are set by Superintendent. Mr. Hardy suggested this is also the responsibility of the Subcommittee chair to pursue.

In terms of deliberation, there was a split between there being too much or too little deliberation. Mr. Gutro said that any member can request the Superintendent do something and there is no consensus required before he does it. Mr. Hardy said that practice is that if something needs to be created that doesn’t exist, School Committee would decide to make the official request.

Mrs. Lebo said that having an iPad or other device available would be helpful for School Committee.

Mr. Hardy said that using Google Docs and moving away from paper copies would be an advantage. All of the items for one meeting could be organized in a folder, serve as an archive.

Mrs. Lebo said that sometimes presentations are not exactly what was requested. Mr. Hardy said that this is up to School Committee to be as specific as possible, i.e., a 10-minute presentation on Mathematics instruction at Grades 6-8.

Mr. Gutro said that it would be helpful to have estimated times for each section. Mr. Hardy suggested that presentations could be broken up, background information shared ahead of time and then critical information shared in the presentation. Mr. Hardy said the Subcommittee chair should reach out to the Superintendent two weeks ahead of time to plan the meeting.

Bringing up new ideas is an issue, how do you not violate the Open Meeting Law. Mr. Hardy noted that the Policy is to limit discussion after Subcommittee meeting minutes

Mr. Hardy said that for Subcommittee meetings, only the members should be participating and must be seated separately. Otherwise, this is a violation of the Open Meeting law. If you post the meeting as a Subcommittee of the whole, there must be a quorum of the whole present.

Mr. Gutro asked about items not in Subcommittee, can they be introduced in Subcommittee. This is permitted for anything except Policy. There is a School Committee Policy that defines how Policy items get reviewed or amended.

Mr. Hardy suggested adding Future Topics as an item on the Agenda. School Committee can suggest items (without comment) here.

Mrs. Lebo asked about “Old Business”; MASC recommends changing to “Unfinished Business.” (This will require amending the Agenda format in the Policy Book.)

Mr. Gutro asked about setting goals for the School Committee, Mr. Hardy said they need to work together to develop goals. A goal about increasing access to information might be a place to start.

Most School Committee members didn’t feel that communications is an issue, but having a protocol in place might be a good practice. Keeping in mind that superintendent can only communicate what he knows, not every issue rises to the level of his attention. The Communications section of the agenda can be used to share information without comment. If using a shared platform, documents can be added as resources. Participation in social media must be carefully done, especially in a closed group. The revised Open Meeting law addresses platforms not yet available. Members should be cognizant of comments or opinions of things that are under jurisdiction of School Committee.

Mr. Hardy suggested that email and in person communications be handled the same way: ask the person to try to resolve the issue at the level it begins and follow the chain of command. Ask them to speak with the teacher or the principal, then the Superintendent if it cannot be resolved otherwise. If it is an issue with School Committee Policy, then responding with information is appropriate.

Mrs. Lebo asked about inviting audience participation at Subcommittee meetings, this is allowable as long as on meeting topic.

Mr. Hardy said that Open Forum is often not productive as it is not limited to topics on the meeting agenda. It is recommended that the floor be opened to questions after each New Business item.

Mr. Andronico asked if non-Subcommittee members can participate at all at meetings. Mr. Hardy said they can ask questions but cannot deliberate, give opinions, or vote. The consensus is that each meeting be posted as a Subcommittee of the whole.

There was some discussion around visiting school protocol, School Committee Policy is that visits must be requested of the Superintendent.

Mr. Gutro asked about School Committee members directly contacting other City departments to resolve a school-related issue. Mr. Hardy said that as individual members have no authority, this must be done as a consensus of School Committee, not as an individual member.

Mr. Hardy said he started to draft suggested protocol based on this poll. He will share via email.

Mrs. Lebo would like to schedule a goal-setting meeting for the summer. Mr. Hardy suggested looking at the District Improvement Plan and deciding which part of that School Committee owns.

Mr. Hardy also suggested adding a default statement in Policy, for instance if Chair and Vice Chair absent, most senior member to preside.

Mrs. Hubley made a motion to adjourn the Professional Development at 9:00 pm. Mr. Andronico seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.