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Operating Norms for the Longmeadow School Committee


School Committee Norms

 

HOW WE RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER

1.    The School Committee maintains an open environment where each member is empowered to freely express opinions, concerns, and ideas. Committee members will work together to clarify and restate discussions in order to strive for full understanding.

2.    All Committee members should feel free to express their opinions and beliefs about issues. Discussions will be open and encourage candor. Honest disagreements are legitimate and have an appropriate place on the Committee. However, Committee members will respect one another's opinions and will not criticize one another behind-the-back or in an otherwise inappropriate manner.

3.    Committee members agree to focus on issues rather than personalities.

4.    School Committee members agree to keep an open mind and accept that they can change their opinions by recognizing that they are not locked into their initial stated positions.

5.    Committee members will communicate in a timely, professional and respectful manner.

6.    School Committee members will take on responsibilities and be accountable based on the tasks or requirements of the assignment. Committee members who cannot fulfill any responsibility will inform the chairperson and help find someone to serve as a substitute.

7.    Committee members agree to devote time to periodic evaluation of the accomplishments, potential for improvement and a review of the operating norms of the Committee.

8.    Committee member accountability to the entire school district supersedes:

                                          i.    any conflicting loyalty a Committee member may have to other advocacy or interest groups;

                                        ii.    any loyalty based upon membership on other Committees or staffs; and

                                       iii.    any conflicts based upon the personal interests of any Committee member. 

HOW WE COMMUNICATE  

1.     It is our responsibility to set the tone for the entire school system, and we will make every effort to promote a positive image for our school system. The Superintendent will be visible in the community, and we will operate transparently and respectfully, maintain confidentiality, and respect the Open Meeting laws.

2.     We will conduct ourselves in a professional manner that reflects positively on our schools, students and Longmeadow. We will lead by example and model the values enshrined in our schools and expected of our students and staff.

3.     If School Committee members have questions or concerns, they agree to contact the Superintendent in advance of a meeting.

4.     All Committee members will receive the same information and data which are necessary for decision making. Much of that information will come from the Office of the Superintendent and s/he will ensure that each member has equal access to this information.  Information will be provided as far in advance as possible in order to ensure proper time for feedback and appropriate discussion within the Committee.

5.     Committee members are encouraged to fully participate in all discussions. Committee members should feel comfortable to speak up freely so that questions are answered and full review takes place.

6.     Committee members who are absent or late to meetings will take the initiative to find out what they may have missed. If you know you are going to be absent, notify the Committee Chair or the Superintendent.

7.     Committee members will remain informed concerning state and federal laws and regulations affecting education through regular updates by the legislative liaison to the committee as referenced in policy BBAA.

8.     Committee members agree to exercise honesty in all written and interpersonal interactions.

9.     The Superintendent and School Committee recognize the importance of working collaboratively with town officials to improve our schools, and we will actively seek ways to enlist their support in our efforts. We will work collegially and collaboratively with the Superintendent, other school and community boards and committees, district staff, community members, and each other. We will build trusting relationships, keep open appropriate lines of communication, and treat all with dignity and respect.

 HOW WE GOVERN

1.     We, the Longmeadow Public School Committee, believe that all students can achieve at high levels. We will represent the needs of all students in the district. We will strive to balance the needs of staff, parents and the community to achieve this goal.

2.     We acknowledge that a School Committee meeting is a meeting of the School Committee that is held in public, and we will make every effort to ensure that Committee meetings are effective and efficient. Under the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, these meetings are one of the few formats whereby we can legally deliberate with each other. We therefore need to preserve our ability to speak primarily to each other at these meetings.

3.     School Committee members agree to thoughtfully seek and support solutions that they believe will provide the greatest benefit to the largest number of students. Once the School Committee has taken action, Committee members will not undermine the official position of the Committee. 

4.     We acknowledge the importance of subcommittees, and the Superintendent agrees to utilize them to focus on specific topics indepth and to prepare for presentations, deliberation and possible action by the full School Committee.

5.     School Committee members agree to recognize and respect that their authority exists when a quorum of the Committee meets and not as individual Committee members.

6.     Legal questions should be forwarded to the Chair who will contact legal counsel as appropriate. Individual Committee members will not contact Committee legal counsel.

7.     Committee members will refer questions and concerns they receive from members of the school community to the Chair or the Superintendent. Committee members understand that due to privacy concerns they may not receive direct feedback on the disposition of the questions and concerns that they forward.

8.     Committee members will maintain appropriate confidentiality with particular care in executive session. 

9.     Committee members agree to maintain focus on common goals as documented in the official goals as referred to in policy BA.

 HOW WE CONDUCT MEETINGS 

1.     Committee members will act with the best information available at the time considering data, the superintendent’s recommendations, proposals and suggestions. Committee members will strive to make the best decision at the time based upon research, available facts, stakeholder and public input, best practices and financial considerations.

2.     Committee members agree that discussion will be limited to the agenda and that items will not be added to the agenda at the meeting, unless they cannot be delayed until a subsequent meeting. Committee members may request that items be added to the agenda by contacting the Committee Chair prior to a Committee meeting. The Committee Chair is the gatekeeper of the agenda and will determine whether an issue has already been fully discussed or is not appropriate for the agenda. Notwithstanding the prior sentence, during a Committee meeting, a Committee member may make a motion to add an item to the agenda. If there is a second to the motion and majority support, the item will be added.

3.     The Superintendent will make every effort to provide the School Committee complete and well-organized materials for meetings and sound rationale for recommendations

4.     Neither the Superintendent nor individual Committee members will put one another in a position to discuss items or make recommendations in the absence of appropriate information and preparation

5.     Committee members agree to prepare for discussions in advance and review the materials distributed prior to a meeting

6.     Committee members will make all reasonable effort to attend all Committee meetings, committee assignments, sub-committee meetings, hearings and work sessions

7.     We encourage and welcome the public to attend and/or view meetings. As per policy, the public may comment during the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting and we will take those comments under advisement. We will not typically engage in dialogue with the public in order to maintain effective and efficient meetings. However, topics raised by public participants may be placed on subsequent agendas at the discretion of the Chair or Superintendent or by vote of the School Committee.

8.     During the Public Comment section of Committee meetings, Committee members will listen respectfully to issues brought to them by the community. Committee members may respond during the Committee Response to Public Comment segment of the meeting.  The Committee will not deliberate or take action during the open forum regarding an issue presented. If public follow-up is required, it will be presented at a subsequent meeting.

9.     The School Committee will follow Roberts Rules of Order.

How We Improve

1.    School Committee members and the Superintendent recognize the importance of professional growth and development, and they agree to participate in experiences designed to further their knowledge and understanding and to advance the work of our public schools.

2.    In addition, School Committee members will participate in formal training organized by the Superintendent and the School Committee Chairperson and conducted by organizations such as the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) and/or Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS).

3.    All new School Committee members will participate in an orientation session, and if desired, a School Committee mentor will be assigned.

4.    The Superintendent and the School Committee agree to set aside time on an annual basis for selfevaluation and to review our progress toward adhering to agreed upon norms and beliefs.

5.    We recognize the importance of honoring our agreed upon norms and beliefs, and we agree to take responsibility for reminding one another when we get off track.