Meet the Easton School Committee...


Andrew King
Building and Grounds Committee
David Hopkins, Chair
Building and Grounds Committee
Michele MacPherson
Finance Committee
Policy Committee
Penney Siddiqui, Vice-Chair
Negotiations Committee
Policy Committee
Richard Henderson
Negotiations Committee
Finance Committee

What does a School Committee member do?

Policy Making-A major function of any School Committee is to develop and adopt policies that spell out how the School Department will operate. Policies should be based on the committee's vision for the School Department and should cover every aspect of operations-including employment of staff personnel, administration of pupil services, educational programs, instructional material, school facilities, equipment, finance and support services. A Committee can adopt policy upon recommendation of the superintendent, but the final decisions on policy cannot be delegated. Although Committees set policy, they do not carry it out. The responsibility for implementing policy is delegated to the Superintendent of Schools. The Committee evaluates the implementation of policy through its accountability procedures.

Designating Chief Executive-A Committee is responsible for recruiting, hiring, and evaluating the performance of the Superintendent of Schools who will carry out its policy. This task cannot be delegated. Unless otherwise specified in state statutes or committee policy, a Committee exercises daily supervision and control primarily through its chief administrator and does not deal directly with individual staff members employed to assist the Superintendent in implementing Committee directives.

Planning, Goal Setting, and Appraisal-This vital leadership role of the Committee cannot be delegated. Each Committee must establish a shared community vision for its School Department, translate that vision into long-and short-range goals, and then set up the structure to accomplish that vision. It is responsible for obtaining from the administration and other sources reliable information on which to make the best possible decisions about the scope and nature of school programs. The Committee is ultimately accountable for appraisal of the results of these programs, tasks which are frequently delegated to the administration, and for formulating appropriate program alternatives as necessary to ensure students meet learning goals.

Financial Resources-In consultation with the Superintendent, the Committee is responsible for approval and adoption of an annual budget that will provide the financial basis for the buildings, furnishings, staff, materials, and equipment needed to carry out educational programs. Most of the responsibility for establishing a structure for the school system is affected by the budget the committee adopts. Other financial responsibilities include:

  • Authorizing the administration to make the necessary expenditures budgeted and appropriated by the committee;

  • Adopting policies for the purchase, disposal, and distribution of supplies, property and equipment; and

  • Approving and adopting an insurance program for the district.

Staffing and Appraisal-The Committee delegates the task of recruiting, hiring, evaluating, promoting, and disciplining staff to the Superintendent. The Committee must negotiate and approve all collective bargaining contracts.

Instruction-Working closely with the school administration, a Committee must set clear expectations or standards and adopt policies upon which instructional programs will be based, all of which must be in accordance with state law and regulations promulgated by the state department of education. Often, the community will also be involved-many School Departments involve community members in the textbook selection process, for example. Decisions about instruction should be based on information about student achievement. Committees should ask how the School Department can best improved student achievement and then monitor student performance to see that they are meeting the goals the committee has set forth. In most School Departments the Superintendent will make recommendations about the scope and nature of the School Department's educational offerings, and the committee has the option of accepting, modifying, or rejecting those recommendations. Committee members should be active ambassadors of the School Department's educational program.

School Facilities-A Committee is responsible for determining school housing needs: communicating those needs to the community; purchasing, disposing of, or leasing school sites; and for approving building plans that will support and enhance educational programs. Upon the recommendation of the Building and Grounds Committee and Superintendent, a Committee will employ architects, hire building contractors, and contract for operational and maintenance services.

Students-Although the Committee does not deal directly with students and solve student-related problems, it does set policies that guide the actions of administration and other school staff. A Committee can accept, modify, or reject policies recommended by the Superintendent regarding school admissions, placement, promotion, attendance, expulsion, suspension, graduation, conduct, discipline, safety, health services, food services, and transportation services. All such policies must be viewed in light of their effect on all students' equal access to educational opportunities in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

Communication with Various Constituencies-To be an effective Committee member, members will want to maintain ongoing, two-way communication with school staff, students and members of the community. Your Committee must see to it that there are adequate and direct means for keeping the local citizenry informed and for keeping itself informed about the wishes of the public. These communication techniques should be both formal (public hearings, newsletters, official school district publications) and informal. All formal means of School Department communication should be established in committee policy and delegated to the administration.

Advocacy-Many children come to school with problems that impede their ability to learn-but that the schools cannot solve. School Committee members, both individually and collectively, need to serve as advocates for children. They must make the community aware of its responsibility to our next generation ands support programs that help meet the needs of all students.

Adjudication and Investigation-From time to time, a Committee may have to hear appeals from school staff members or students on issues which involve Committee policy implementation. It may also conduct legislative oversight hearings and investigation on Committee policy implementation issues and School Department operations.

General-Other Committee activities include:

  • Establishing procedures for the operation of the committee;

  • Electing committee officers;

  • Determining who will be on the School Department negotiation team;

  • Approving the school calendar;

  • Establishing attendance zones for the School Department;

  • Retaining an attorney or law firm for the School Department;

  • Setting strategy and coordinating litigation decisions when the School Department is involved in a lawsuit;

  • Establishing and maintaining effective committee-superintendent relations;

  • Periodically reviewing and evaluating committee operations and performance; and

  • Working with city, county and other government and non-government officials and agencies.

Easton School Department School Committee Meetings

The Easton School Committee typically meets the first Monday of every month at 6:30 pm in the Elementary School Library, unless otherwise advertised. Though these are held in public, and business transpires in public, they are not a public meeting per se. The general public is invited to attend, listen, and are welcome to speak during a designated public participation time. The following guidelines shall apply to public participation, per Policy BEDH:

A. Citizens and employees of the school unit are welcome to participate as provided in this policy.  Others may be recognized to speak at the Chair’s discretion.  Individual employees and/or employee groups will not be permitted to discuss matters for which complaint or grievance procedures are provided.

B. The Chair may limit the time allotted for comments on a particular topic as well as the time each individual may speak.

C. In the event of a sizable audience, the Chair may require persons who wish to speak to sign up so they may be called on in a fair and efficient manner.

D. During the time set aside for public participation, the Chair will be responsible for recognizing all speakers, who must identify themselves as they begin talking. 

E. Speakers are not permitted to share gossip, make defamatory comments, or use abusive or vulgar language. 
F. All speakers are to address the Chair and direct questions or comments to particular Easton School Committee members or the Superintendent only with approval of the Chair.  Requests for information or concerns that require further research may be referred to the Superintendent to be addressed at a later time.

G. Members of the Easton School Committee and the Superintendent may ask questions of any person who addresses the Easton School Committee but are expected to refrain from arguing or debating issues.  Questions must be addressed through the Chair.

H. No complaints or allegations will be allowed at Easton School Committee meetings concerning any person employed by the school system or against particular students.  Personal matters or complaints concerning student or staff issues will not be considered in a public meeting but will be referred through established policies and procedures.

I. In order to make efficient use of meeting time, the Easton School Committee discourages duplication or repetition of comments to the Easton School Committee.  The Easton School Committee requests that groups or organizations be represented by designated spokespersons.

J. The Chair has the authority to stop any presentation that violates these guidelines or the privacy rights of others.

K. Persons who disrupt the meeting may be asked to leave, and the Chair may request law enforcement assistance as necessary to restore order.

L. In the event of an emergency or substantial disruption, the Chair may declare a recess to restore order or may declare the meeting adjourned or to be continued to a designated time and place or at the call of the Chair.

Executive Sessions

In accordance with the Freedom of Access Law, School Committee meetings are held in public, however the School Committee may go into private, or Executive Session upon a vote of 3/5 of the members present and voting, for consideration of certain matters specified in law (e.g. personnel, student suspension/expulsion, contracts and collective bargaining, legal advice, or pending litigation). No final action may be taken in Executive Session.

School Board v. School Committee

"School Board" is the term given to any governing board with statutory powers over a school administrative unit. (SAU) Easton School Department is a special type of SAU called a Municipal School Unit; meaning an SAU composed of one municipality (Easton) with a statutory financial partnership with the municipal government. The governing body, or "School Board", overseeing this specific type of SAU is called a "School Committee".

Other types of SAUs may be governed by a "Board of Directors", "Union Committee" or "District School Committee", though all "School Board" responsibilities are essentially the same.