GREENFIELD — After a heated conversation among its members, the school board voted to order the administration to “make reasonable efforts” to tape subcommittee meetings and adopt a script-reading practice at the start of meetings – under the Open Meetings Act – who asks if anyone else in the audience intends to record.
Last week’s votes followed a meeting in March, where school board members voted to send a discussion on recording subcommittee meetings to its policy and curriculum subcommittee, in in favor of establishing a policy on how meetings will be recorded in the future.
“Thinking about our role as a policy subcommittee and as a school committee, it is not our responsibility to establish procedures for the district,” explained Glenn Johnson-Mussad, member of the school committee and chair of the policy and curriculum subcommittee. “That’s up to the superintendent.”
To that end, the subcommittee consulted with Superintendent Christine DeBarge on the options available to record these meetings, as it does for meetings of the full committee.
“I was able to speak with (Executive Director Nick Ring) of GCTV (Greenfield Community Television) to talk about the options we have for video recording, where we could use some of their equipment…and record,” said DeBarge. “The challenge is if… for some reason all the loanable equipment they had was busy. He didn’t think it would be a constant problem, but it could happen.
Staff could also record audio of meetings using their phones, which GCTV could upload to GCTV’s YouTube channel, at least until the minutes of the meeting were posted.
“I think it’s doable under our current staffing model,” DeBarge told committee members.
Some committee members, particularly chairwoman Amy Proietti, found it unclear whether the recommendation required a vote to secure registration.
“I will do what is necessary as directed by the committee,” DeBarge replied.
Proietti also doesn’t feel like any progress has been made since the last meeting in terms of developing a procedure.
“We went to the superintendent and said, ‘It seems to be outside our realm – it’s not our job to develop plans for how you implement practices like this,'” Johnson-Mussad said. “We made sure the language was ‘reasonable effort’ which we ask (the administration) to make.”
He added that the political subcommittee does not have the power to run the administration on its own; this authority emanates from the entire school committee.
“Previous committees have put all kinds of procedures and practices in the policy manual and we’re not going to do that,” Johnson-Mussad said. “We’re reporting this to you as recommended direction to the administration, not as policy.”
School committee member Elizabeth Deneeve noted that Proietti was at the March 31 meeting where this was discussed. Proietti clarified that this was the meeting she left early because materials were not provided three days in advance, per school committee policy. Later in the meeting, when member Kate Martini said she was unfamiliar with one of the referenced documents, Proietti said it was likely because it was added that afternoon.
In the end, Proietti was the only dissenting vote. Members Susan Eckstrom, Johnson-Mussad, Martini, Deneeve and Jean Wall voted “yes” to order the administration to make reasonable efforts to tape future subcommittee meetings.
The subcommittee also recommended that the full committee adopt a practice of reading a script at the start of each meeting that notifies the public when a meeting is taped by the district or GCTV, and asking if anyone else the fact.
There was some disagreement over whether the Johnson-Mussad motion constituted policy.
“I have no problem with that being said,” Eckstrom said. “However, the policy subcommittee exists to develop policies and revise them. I don’t see any policies here.
Johnson-Mussad said he considers the motion on the table — adopting a practice of reading a script at the start of meetings — as a recommended practice. Deneeve and Johnson-Mussad noted that under the Open Meetings Act, the chair of a meeting must notify the public if anyone present is recording.
“We don’t always create policies that replicate elements already in state law, such as the ability for members of the public to tape and the requirement for chairpersons of meetings to let people know when things are being taped. “, did he declare. mentioned. “This is a recommended procedure that the committee is adopting in order to comply with the Open Meetings Act.”
Still, Proietti disagreed that it was necessary. According to legal advice, she said, the committee is only required to inform the public that GCTV is recording.
“From my perspective, I don’t have a problem with that, but it seems like a colossal waste of subcommittee and full committee time,” Proietti said. “If you want to come up to me, Glenn, and say, ‘Don’t forget to say we need a recording announcement,’ I’d be happy to do that.”
Proietti and Eckstrom ultimately voted ‘no’, while Johnson-Mussad, Martini, Deneeve and Wall voted ‘yes’ to adopt a practice of reading a script at the start of meetings, asking if anyone in the audience is recording .
Journalist Mary Byrne can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne