Two local school boards are facing criticism, one for assigning members alone to the job of assessing candidates for superintendent and another for trying to gain information, at some expense, to become better board members.
The Stonington Board of Education faces the task of finding a replacement for Superintendent Leanne Masterjoseph, who is resigning effective June 30. The board has assigned itself as the search committee. The decision not to include on the committee one or more residents has generated some criticism.
Board Chairwoman Gail MacDonald said anecdotal evidence from search consultants suggests that enlarging a search committee beyond the school board can discourage qualified candidates from applying. The thinking is that non-board members are more likely to have loose lips, and superintendents don't want their employers to know they are considering a new job.
Frankly, we don't follow that logic. Certainly any citizen asked to assist in the search will have demonstrated their support for education, perhaps through participation in a parent-teacher organization, past teaching experience or volunteer work. Why these individuals would be any more likely to tattle than school board members is unclear to us.
The benefit of expanding the search committee, on the other hand, would be to gain insights perhaps those closest to school operations would miss and to reassure the public the board welcomes contributions outside the inner circle. The final decision on hiring a superintendent would still rest with the elected school board.
In Montville, meanwhile, five school board members are taking some heat for spending $7,164, about .02 percent of the education budget, to attend last month's three-day conference in Boston presented by the National School Boards Association. The criticism is unfair. The money paid for the $725 registration fee of each participant and for hotel rooms. These volunteer elected officials reportedly paid all other associated costs out of pocket.
The fact that this spring's conference took place in New England provided an enrichment opportunity at reasonable cost. Having several members at the conference allowed them to attend multiple workshops and share information. The conference covered more than 200 educational topics. There is no indication this was a junket, but rather a good-faith effort at becoming better board members.