An East Hampton School Board work session on Tuesday evening focused on goals and objectives for the coming year, both for the board and for Richard Burns, the interim superintendent, along with finer points to aid in evaluating a superintendent’s abilities.
“The goals before were so broad,” said Laura Anker Grossman, the board president. “We need to set priorities and then talk about how to accomplish them.”
George Aman, a board member, agreed. “One thing that was missing last year was specificity. We, as a board, have to learn to establish goals.”
Dr. Aman had drawn up a draft of what some of the goals might be. One was a complete review and acceptance of the district’s policy book by Jan. 1. “It’s some five years out of date,” he said. “We can’t keep going without policies in place.”
Kerri Stevens, the district clerk, said there was already some progress on that, since two interns had worked on it all summer. “You should get it tomorrow,” she said, “and you’ll be able to compare the two side by side and easily see what’s missing.”
One of the duties of the superintendent — interim or not — should be “to prepare and present a curriculum evaluation every month, with relative weaknesses and how we can improve them,” according to Dr. Aman.
“We need to diagnose and target weaknesses, instead of boasting about our strengths,” he said.
He went on, and the board agreed, that there should be a topical sum-up at least once a month, focusing on continuing issues, like the Sandpebble lawsuit.
“We bring up topics at an open meeting, and then the public never hears about them again,” Dr. Aman said. “It makes it seem like we’re hiding something. We have to be transparent.”
Besides the lawsuit, Dr. Aman brought up the consolidation study. “We okayed $40,000 for a consolidation study, we should let the public know where we are on that.”
Kathee Burke Gonzalez, the school board president in Springs, and Dr. Grossman had a brief meeting on the subject of consolidation and/or shared services last week, and the presidents and vice-presidents of both boards will meet on Monday at 4 p.m., joined by board members of all of the other sending districts at 5.
“The only way to be transparent is to continually discuss these issues,” Alison Anderson, a board member, said.
Mr. Burns brought up shared services, using the example of the $80,000-$120,000 each that the district spends on sending several autistic students to Bellport for school.
“If we brought them here, with Springs, Montauk, Amagansett, and other districts, and set something up in the alternative school, it could translate as significant savings for all of us,” he said.
The board attempted to divide the superintendent evaluation goals under several headings: board relations, oversight of policy and procedures, instruction and student achievement, community relations, budget and finance management, and personnel and professional development. Something like shared services would be classified under finance management, while briefing the public about ongoing issues would be community relations.
The board also discussed preparing for the 2-percent tax cap, upcoming negotiations with personnel, and arranging a program with the New York State School Boards Association to be held in East Hampton with tips on school board functionality and goal planning.