A major budget meeting between the Town Council and the School Committee was one hour in when Town Clerk Leigh Carney announced the virtual link on the agenda filed on the Secretary of State’s website was incorrect.
School Committee Solicitor Matt Oliverio said, based on his understanding of the Open Meetings Act, the meeting could not continue.
“It may be deemed intentional if we proceed,” he said. “I think we ought to postpone and reschedule this meeting. That would be my advice; it certainly is to the School Committee.”
The Open Meetings Act requires public bodies to post agendas at least 48 hours before a meeting, with the idea that meetings are open and accessible to anyone who would want to attend. Meetings during the pandemic have added a layer of complexity to that, requiring a valid virtual meeting link.
Carney said the original meeting agenda was posted Friday but she had made changes to the agenda (regarding links to backup material) more recently and the Zoom meeting ID listed on that agenda was no longer accurate.
“We have to cease immediately,” said School Committee Chairwoman Anne Musella. “This is an administrative error. It happens,” she said, noting it had happened to the School Committee earlier in the pandemic. “I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often,” she said.
The School Committee’s agenda on the Secretary of State’s website did include the valid Zoom link.
Supt. Alexis Meyer and Town Manager Andy Nota had both finished their budget presentations, with discussion on the budget about to proceed at the time of Carney’s announcement. The meeting was discontinued and Town Manager Mark Schwager said the meeting would be rescheduled. There is some time pressure: by Town Charter, the council is supposed to approve a budget by June 10.
You can read more about the school and town budgets HERE.