A letter written by Kristen Lehoullier, a member of the School Committee’s ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee, was read during public comment at the School Committee meeting Tuesday, Oct. 21. It is reprinted here:
At the candidate forum last week, the School Committee candidates were asked a question about the strategic plan. The question noted that one year ago the school committee set the goal that EG would be among the top 100 districts in the country and raised the fact that the strategic plan to achieve that goal is behind schedule. The moderator asked how candidates would ensure that it got done and how the community would be engaged. A good number of audience members expressed support for a comment by several school committee candidates that completing the
strategic planning process needs to be a priority and that the remaining process should, at a minimum, include engaging residents of East Greenwich to provide feedback. At the time, it was concerning to hear from from an incumbent School Committee member during the forum that the draft strategic plan is being implemented before the plan is complete with no clear plan for seeking community input or feedback. In fact, this candidate felt that the community had had sufficient opportunity to participate.
I want to note, however, that the original mechanism for engaging community residents through the ad hoc committee was not authentic. The ad hoc strategic planning committee has not met for almost a year and was not engaged to provide substantive input into the planning process. It’s only role was to identify the district’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats over a period of three meetings in the fall of 2013. In addition, there have not been intentional efforts to publicize the process, engage residents in the process, or ask for their feedback. Nor has there been communication with the adhoc committee about the progress of the planning or the schedule of other strategic planning sessions with the school committee or administration team. In short, the district and school committee have missed many opportunities along the planning process to get input, utilize community-based expertise, and galvanize support for the plan. At this point in the game, the best that can be done is to complete the plan and make sure that members of the community are made aware of the plan and invited to provide feedback. What are the school committee’s plans around this?
There was no response from the School Committee members, who have said in the past that state open meetings law prohibits them from discussing anything not listed as an agenda item.
Same question was submitted to the Superintendent via FAQ section of the Supt. Field Memo. Supt. has not answered this question as last Friday.
Something is amiss here. Why is there a delay in this process? Is the district using an outside facilitator to shepherd the process (as is typical)?
“There was no response from the School Committee members, who have said in the past that state open meetings law prohibits them from discussing anything not listed as an agenda item.” This is also a problem. During the Public Comment section of any public meeting such as the EG School Committee, the committee can choose to respond to a direct question or statement such as Ms. Lehoullier’s. They don’t have to, but if they do choose to respond to public comment, it is NOT a violation of the state’s Open Meetings Law.