The School Committee tabled a vote last Thursday night that would have decided if the committee should make a request to the Select Board on redefining the designation given to school committee members from regular municipal employees to special municipal employees.
The decision came a day after the Select Board, citing Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 41 Section 11, which dictates that “if a vacancy occurs in any town office, other than the office of selectman, town clerk, treasurer, collector of taxes or auditor, the selectmen shall in writing appoint a person to fill such vacancy,” had begun the process of filling a vacancy on the committee created by the resignation of Vice Chair Emily Barron.
The board set Nov. 30 as the date of submission for those interested to apply for an open committee seat with a 4 p.m. deadline.
Interviews and appointments will be conducted at a joint meeting of the School Committee and the Select Board on Wednesday, December 7th at Abbot Hall.
Toward the end of Thursday’s meeting, committee member Sarah Gold requested that the committee table the vote. Gold had originally supported voting to redefine the designation due to a similar situation that she encountered in the past.
“I had a similar experience when I first joined the committee five years ago where there was a portion of my job at that point that I did not end up being able to carry forward with because it created an ethical situation,” Gold said. “In my head, I wanted to avoid future issues with members of our board in future committees coming into the same situation and having to make decisions.”
However, after speaking with Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer earlier Thursday, she stated that it would be best to push the vote until more information on the matter is learned.
“As I’ve started to dig into it and I was talking with Thatcher … there’s more to it than what I initially saw it as, so I’m going to get my ducks in a row, and make sure that once they’re in a row, it makes sense to actually bring it to the committee,” said Gold. “I would like to table it for the time being and bring it back when I’ve got a lot more information I can present as to why it makes sense.”
Prior to the vote officially being tabled by committee Chair Sarah Fox, committee member Meagan Taylor voiced her concerns regarding the length of time that it will take to fill the seat, also recommending that the committee follows policy in regard to filling the vacancy.
“My takeaway from this process is that we need to follow our policies, and if we’re not going to follow the policies, that’s the point where we take a vote,” she said. “This has kind of dragged on longer than we needed it to and it got way muddier than it should have, because we didn’t follow policy we had in place. If we’re not going to follow it, that’s fine, we just need to make that very clear.”
In response to Taylor’s comments, Fox noted in terms of filling the vacancy in a timely manner, the committee is on par with a similar situation in 2016, when another committee seat was vacated, stating that they are scheduled to fill the seat one day earlier than the vacancy six years ago.
“Even with the way we went about this, are still filling this, believe it or not, one day sooner than they filled it in 2016. So we’re still exactly lined up with their timeline. I one-hundred percent hear your (Meagan Taylor’s) point , but I just didn’t want anybody to have concerns that this was sitting open for weeks or days longer. This is actually one day sooner than they did it then.”