Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Next Step In Doing The Job

Ken O’Brien

At Monday night’s joint meeting of the Town Council and the School Committee, committee member Jill Congdon made a succinct observation.

“A School Committee member’s primary responsibilities are policy, budget and overseeing the Superintendent “she noted.

Substitute the term ‘Town Manager” for “Superintendent” and one could make the same statement about the Town Council with equal validity.

This year for the first time in memory the Council took the step of instituting a budgetary practice commensurate with that in virtually every business and household. It took the (for a governmental body) extraordinary action of imposing a limit on spending before establishing a budget.

Having taken this momentous step (and hopefully adhering to it in the future), it is now an appropriate time for both bodies to implement a long overdue practice consistent with Ms. Congdon’s pronouncement.

This would have to do with the severely neglected role of overseeing the Town Manager or the Superintendent, as the case may be.

Rarely mentioned and never practiced in my recollection, there is the pronounced need to establish a regular process of annual review for the individuals filling these positions. With a newly appointed Town Manager and a recently launched search for a school superintendent, now would appear to be an ideal time to undertake such a task. There can be no basis for shirking this responsibility any longer. It is, in fact, long overdue.

The first step would be for each body to appoint a subcommittee pro tem to draft an appropriate evaluation mechanism for the respective positions.

While each executive strives to move the town forward, let’s see if the respective elective bodies can do the same.

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