Brookline School Committee speaks about norms for future meetings



Jim Marini speaks about COVID-19 at the BSC meeting.

The Brookline School Committee (BSC) held a workshop meeting to go over operating protocols and norms that would help with future meetings’ efficiency. Committee members had many concerns relating to the current protocols and goals in place.

Massachusetts Association of School Committees Field Director Dorothy Presser facilitated the meeting which took place over Zoom on Oct. 22.

The initial purpose was to discuss norms and protocols for the operations of the BSC, including the chain of command, the job of subcommittees and efficient communication.

They decided on six norms. However, these norms were eventually thrown out and they decided to rewrite them in a separate meeting of the policy subcommittee.

The first two hours of the meeting consisted of reviewing BSC norms that were last put in place in May 2009, when only three of the current committee members were present.

These norms focused on the communication between the superintendent, committee, and subcommittees. This included conversations about the role of subcommittees and how their in-depth work, while valuable, made it difficult for things to be accomplished in a timely manner.

Interim Superintendent Jim Marini criticized the inefficiency and workload that the subcommittees place upon the superintendent.

“If the expectation is that the superintendent is meeting with all these subcommittees, that’s not a realistic expectation,” Marini said.

The committee went on to discuss maintaining common goals, as well as how these goals would be decided. There were several concerns regarding the distribution and clarity of the assigned goals, including one from new committee member Dimitry Anselme.

“I’m struggling with figuring out what my goals are and what we are trying to accomplish and who should be giving them to me,” Anselme said.

Brookline, like the rest of the world, has felt the severe impact of COVID-19 and has been in crisis-mode since March. The BSC has struggled to stay efficient in such difficult times.

Members agreed that the BSC was finding difficulty in creating common goals while also trying to deal with the problems that COVID-19 has presented. Marini said that Brookline needed a plan in order to tackle the problems the district was facing.

“This community is aching for a strategic planning process. Concord Carlisle went through one a couple of years back. All it requires is community input which there is no shortage of in Brookline,” Marini said.

Committee Member Mariah Nobrega was concerned about how the committee would bounce back from COVID-19 and make any goals realities.

“Toggling from a crisis-driven committee to a goal-driven committee is a good thing to do, but requires a hard reset. It requires us to drop things where they are,” Nobrega said. “I am wondering how that can happen in a graceful manner.”