Warwick to discuss forming school subcommittee to advise PVRS

  • Warwick Community School FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/13/2018 12:09:08 PM

WARWICK — Residents concerned about Warwick’s representation in the Pioneer Valley Regional School Committee will meet with the Selectboard on Monday to discuss forming a subcommittee to advise on Warwick-specific issues.

The district agreement allows each town to create an “advisory committee” that would be composed of the town’s elected School Committee members, plus two non-members appointed by the town moderator.

So far, the idea has been discussed at meetings of the Warwick Community School Preservation Committee. Adam Holloway, one of the organizers of the School Preservation Committee, has said that an advisory committee could be an official “conduit” to the School Committee. In recent months, the School Committee has limited public comments at its meetings.

“The problem with the structure that we have is that they (Warwick’s School Committee members) are very clear that they are not representative of Warwick. They are representatives from Warwick, for the School Committee,” Holloway said at a School Preservation Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Some School Committee members, most prominently David Young, who is also Warwick’s town coordinator, have argued that School Committee members are primarily responsible for the well-being of the school system and should not see themselves to be representative of their towns’ interests.

This has concerned some residents, especially as talk of school closures may be widening the gap between the well-being of the school system and the interests of certain towns.

“We as this committee and the town at large have no voice in the School Committee,” Holloway said.

But some members of the Warwick Community School Preservation Committee were skeptical of creating another committee with its own formal rules.

“We need to change the culture and the way the School Committee is operating,” said Tom Wyatt, who has regularly attended meetings of the School Preservation Committee. “I feel that’s what needs to be addressed, rather than creating another body.”

He also suggested that in practice, School Committee members can’t be totally disinterested in their own towns, even if they officially do not represent their towns’ interests.

“These are Warwick people,” Wyatt said. “You think Sue (O’Reilly-McRae, member of the School Committee and H.E.A.R.T. Committee) is not concerned about the impact on Warwick?”

The district agreement says that an advisory committee may make recommendations on matters including but not limited to budgets, personnel and curriculum. But the agreement does not specify how an advisory committee would interact with the School Committee — if advisory committee members would attend School Committee meetings, if they would meet separately with School Committee members, if they would submit letters of recommendations.

So far, only Holloway has expressed interest in serving on Warwick’s advisory committee. The agreement says that “Advisory Committees shall be composed of the elected school committee members from each member town plus two additional members.”

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