To the Editor,
School Committee needs individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership and collaboration skills. I offer my perspective as a member of the 2012 Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).
In January, CTC Chair and TAC member Lisa Bergen was nominated as a candidate as “the only person to have earned the respect of two very different constituencies through her simultaneous service on two conflicting committees (CTC and TAC).” As a TAC member, I must respectfully disagree. CTC and TAC were not “conflicting committees” but committees with very different charges. The CTC charge was “to “search diligently” for ways to keep the school transportation department in-house.” The TAC’s charge was to “be responsible for researching all feasible methods of providing safe, economic, reliable transportation for students in Concord Public Schools (CPS) and Concord Carlisle Regional School District (CCRSD).” TAC members did not have an “agenda” in support of one approach or another, and represented a range of backgrounds and constituencies.
I observed firsthand how CTC and TAC approached tasks at hand. TAC conducted its work with civil discourse, transparency and free flow of information -- among its members and with CTC. Unfortunately, collaboration and sharing information often worked in only one direction with the CTC chair. Answers to questions about pending CTC recommendations were not disclosed - despite numerous requests.
Most troubling was discovering later that the CTC Chair (with others in town) actively contacted the MSBA for months – questioning, challenging and trying to discredit each move and statement made by District Administration, School Committee and Building Committee - while serving on both committees. The barrage spread to efforts to halt and/or slow down the CCHS building project, including Ms. Bergen’s October email to MSBA director McCarthy, requesting that MSBA not reinstate funding for the CCHS project. Ms. Bergen filed an Open Meeting complaint with the State Attorney General in August 2012; the AG office ruled they “declined to investigate and consider the matter closed.”
Do we want a School Committee member who implored the MSBA not to reinstate $28 million funding for a building project with an 84 percent positive vote by Concord citizens? Can Ms. Bergen work effectively with the Building Committee? Is this the type of leadership and collaboration we want on the School Committee?
On March 19 we will decide the direction of our schools over the next three years. We need leaders who will proactively and collaboratively lead our education program. They must focus on students and learning, not undermine school administration and committees. Please consider your choices carefully.
Janet Rhodes Friedman230 Old Pickard Road