On Tuesday October 29, there was a joint meeting of the Southbridge School Committee and the Town Council’s subcommittee on Education and Human Services.
Item number two on the agenda for that meeting was, “Discuss the process to ‘temporarily’ fill vacancy on the School Committee until the 2014 election.”
On October 30 a memorandum was released to the media that outlined the “process” that was adopted by this joint session. It reads as follows:
TO: MEDIA (IMMEDIATE RELEASE)
FROM: BASAN NEMBIRKOW, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
DATE: OCTOBER 30, 2013
RE: SCHOOL COMMITTEE VACANCY
The Town is now seeking to fill one (1) vacancy on the Southbridge School Committee. The individual selected will serve until the Town election in June, 2014.
Residents who would be interested in serving on the School Committee should submit a letter of application, including experience, qualifications, and resume to: Superintendent of Schools, Town Hall, 25 Cole Avenue, Southbridge, MA 01550. The deadline is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2013 AT NOON.
Applicants will be invited to attend a joint meeting of the Southbridge School Committee and the Southbridge Town Council, and at that time, they may make a brief presentation concerning their candidacy. The successful candidate will be chosen by a majority vote at a joint meeting of the Town Council and the School Committee to be held on DECEMBER 3, 2013.
Now, I might be overly critical, but I have several problems with this.
First, and foremost, since when does a person submit their application for a position to a person over whom they will have jurisdiction if selected?
The superintendent of the school district is, after all, the subordinate of the elected members of the school committee. Who in their right mind would submit an application for a position to someone over whom they would ultimately be the boss?
It would be far more appropriate to have such applications submitted to either the Town Clerk or the Town Manager.
Second, if one were running for school committee the only requirements would be that they be a town resident of voting age. What is this business of submitting an application, “ including experience, qualifications, and resume”.
Does this imply that an evaluation will be made about whether one is “worthy” of being considered for this position that goes beyond the basic requirements imposed for candidacy for election imposed by law? Who is to know if applications that do not meet the scrutiny of the superintendent will end up being discarded?
Finally, let’s assume that more than two people apply for the position.
Will the joint gathering keep voting until someone gets a majority or will a second runoff vote be held between the two top vote-getters or a least among those who receive a minimum number of votes? The word majority means more than 50% of the votes, anything less being a mere plurality.
So, do we really need to wait until December 6 to resolve this? Well, I guess that, in light of the foregoing, that may be appropriate. It certainly shows that our town leaders would not have done any better a job with the Obamacare website.