Governance Structure of District Subverted with Proliferation of “Advisory Committees”

How many are there now?  You know, the non-public groups that report only to the superintendent….. the “advisory committees” that have been proliferating with more fecundity than a rabbit.

Let’s see:

  • Superintendent’s Leadership Team
  • Consolidation Advisory Committee
  • Transition Advisory Committee
  • Athletic facilities Advisory Committee
  • Campus Development Advisory Committee
  • Climate Advisory Committee
  • Timberlane Executive Leadership Academy
  • Timberlane Performing and Fine Arts Enrichment Council

I’ve almost certainly missed a few.

Most districts manage with a school board and an SAU. “It is Dr. Metzler’s position that Together Everybody Achieves More,” says the press release below. Yes, the only one excluded from this cheery togetherness is the school board itself which has been isolated, marginalized and subverted into window dressing for decisions that are being made in non-public among non-elected individuals. I now get my information from press releases.

First it started with the Superintendent’s Leadership Team.  Sure, the superintendent is entitled to form a group of his direct reports.  He’s also permitted to form “advisory councils.”  The problem is the proliferation, which leads to a great deal of the district’s business being deliberated outside the view of the public and the school board. The school board is permitting this proliferation without a creak of a backbone – in fact, without even a whimper of a comment.  The chairman even refuses to put it on the agenda for discussion despite (or perhaps because of) my requests.

The school board was supposed to hear the teacher’s climate issues on a quarterly basis. Now an advisory committee has been established which I fear will cut the school board out of any knowledge of issues whatsoever. Who wouldn’t want, after all, this opportunity for the professional staff to engage in constructive self-criticism in a collaborative environment where the first person to stop clapping is conspicuous?  I don’t understand how the teachers’ union could possibly have agreed to this arrangement.

Here is the public announcement made by the superintendent on August 25th, without any consultation with the school board.

Dr. Metzler is pleased to report the establishment of a Superintendent’s Climate Advisory Committee which will meet on a monthly basis to establish a process to identify and provide support for professional staff regarding the mission to increase rigor, improve evaluation and increase accountability on all levels. This committee will work hand in hand with the newly established Timberlane Executive Leadership Academy (TELA).

Committee membership will be comprised of the Superintendent and up to 20 Timberlane Teachers’ Association (TTA) members selected by TTA executive officers. 

It is Dr. Metzler’s position that Together Everybody Achieves More. He is looking forward to working together to continue raising the bar in Timberlane to provide the absolute best public education and demand excellence in everything that we do.  August 25, 2015

Your school board has lost every last vestige of authority over the superintendent.  The Timberlane Executive Leadership Academy will be turning off the lights of the SAU board room because all knowledge and decisions will be made behind closed doors and with no accountability to parents or taxpayers.

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2 Comments

Filed under Sandown Issues

2 responses to “Governance Structure of District Subverted with Proliferation of “Advisory Committees”

  1. Peter Bealo

    Donna,
    A little overdramatic perhaps??

    As you stated: the Superintendant can have staff meetings and form other advisory committees. They are NOT SB committees, though many have SB participation. I saw your name along with mine on an invitation just yesterday for an arts advisory committee, and I believe its something you have knowledge of and can contribute to. I hope you join.

    These participating SB members have not taken an oath or Omerta like mafia members, so can report out to the SB at meetings. These committees advise the Superintendant on items within his pervue OR not within his ultimate pervue but that he will suggest to the SB in open meeting, so the public can ultimately be involved and the hSB makes the ultimate decisions.

    These committees do not involve SB governed issues: Policy setting, Curriculum Setting. Those are the controls the SB has. Other than that the Superintendant runs the day-to-dya of the district. You know that, you’ve read the RSAs. I understand you don’t like the RSAs. In that case, work on changing them. But bemoaning a loss of control implies the SB ever HAD the level of control. By law we do not. I suppose if we had hired a sock puppet instead of a strong leader we could have acquired the control, but that is not what the SAU Board wanted nor I believe wants today.

    Past regimes either had some of these committees (such as SLT or equivalent) or made all decisions on their own without consultation with stakeholders. I see these advisory committees as a way to involve broad swaths of stakeholders in areas governed by the Superintendant, and applaud his asking for opinions like this. It is far easier in many ways to just make decisions without involving others. Our last couple Superintendants appear to hav edone that and they were IMHO disasters, I am VERY glad they’re gone.

    Regarding the TTA environment committee question. The TTA committed to coming before the SB every quarter. That commitment has not gone away. All this committee seems to be trying to achieve is to FIX whatever the detailed issues are now. I have no idea why the TTA would not want to be part of defining a solution to something they themselves highlighted as an issue, and would be thankful for being heard and consulted with. IMHO Management and the union working together is good for everyone.

    • Mr. Bealo’s understanding of the SB’s responsibilities would have the board meet once a year for coffee. We don’t set curriculum. We wave at it from a bus. If the SB does set curriculum, then where is the vote to transition to the Common Core? Oh, they will tell you…. that is a set of standards, not a curriculum…. therefore, it didn’t need a vote of the board. Uh huh. Every curriculum decision hinges on the Common Core, but where is the board’s discussion of this momentous educational decision?

      As for setting policy, the SB rubber stamps whatever the Policy Committee puts in front of it and the policy committee includes administrators and the superintendent as voting members. Truly the SB “sets” policy because it certainly does not follow it, and has a loose relationship with RSAs at times, too.

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