Board of Education votes to establish Operational Effectiveness Committee
FAIRFIELD — The schools have launched a new committee charged with how to best spend the dollars they have.
The Board of Education voted Tuesday to establish a broad-based ad-hoc Operational Effectiveness Committee, though not without some disagreement.
According to BOE Chairman Philip Dwyer, the goal of the committee is to evaluate issues related to staffing, financing, utilization and program services at all Board of Education facilities.
“I think the purpose of this committee is to implement the district priorities for excellence, which our superintendent put out, saying how do we engage in structural change for the long term good,” said Dwyer, clarifying his intention was not to bring the subcommittee together in order to get a quick report complete by January to influence next year’s budget cycle.
The board was in agreement that the board should exist, but questions arose over who should comprise the board and how many members there should be.
One board member, Jennifer Maxon-Kennelly, proposed a series of amendments to Dwyer’s draft resolution. Rather than 12 to 15 members, as Dwyer had written, Maxon-Kennelly suggested eight to 10 members. Rather than Dwyer recruiting members from the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Representative Town Meeting, student representatives, bargaining unit representatives, and representatives from the town at large, Maxon-Kennelly suggested only elected town officials comprise the board.
In order to receive the input from other groups, according to Maxon-Kennelly’s amendment, focus groups would be formed to lend insight to the subcommittee’s work.
Bob Smoler, president of the Fairfield Education Association, and Tina Brown, a teacher in the district, both spoke in public comment stressing the importance of having staff and teachers on hand during subcommittee meetings to provide “real-time feedback.”
“I completely understand the points raised in public comment regarding needing to have some real-time feedback and it had never occurred to me that that wouldn’t be a part of this,” Maxon-Kennelly said, though her amendment was voted down five-to-four.
One member of the public, Suzanne Miska, questioned whether or not the subcommittee should be created at all, saying that the description of the subcommittee was too broad.
“I don’t know what you’re going to get from this. I don’t know that this might just be too broad to really get the feedback that you’re trying to get,” Miska said.
Still, the board voted in favor of the ad hoc subcommittee.
“I would rather start the conversation than keep trying to find the right bullet to put in the right gun to fire to solve everything,” Maxon-Kennelly said.
The establishment of the subcommittee was approved eight-to-one. Member nominations should contact Chairman Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org