BELMONT — After meeting on April 23 to finalize the parameters of a "culture climate and survey analysis" for the Shaker Regional School District, the school board will be meeting at the Belmont Elementary School at 6 p.m. on May 11 to interview the two companies that submitted bids to do the work.
According to a school board member who spoke to The Daily Sun off the record, the price range for the culture survey is between $14,000 and $19,000, defending on the specificity and range of services desired by the board.
The Daily Sun learned yesterday that 16 requests for proposals were solicited from qualifying companies and two responded — Loyalty Factor, LLC of Portsmouth and PCG Education of Boston, Mass.
According to the posting, the meeting is scheduled to be held in a non-public session, however the validity of the closed-door nature of the meeting is being questioned by The Daily Sun.
The idea of a culture survey stems from a non-binding article petitioned on to the end of the district warrant at the March annual meeting. It expressed a desire to form a separate committee to look at the "culture" as it applied to school district employees.
It was led in part by Moderator Roy Roberts, who temporarily ceded his podium to former Moderator Tom Goulette to speak about the "culture problem" in the district.
Roberts told the assembly that he has received letters and phone calls and that it is his perception that there are some culture problems, primarily within the staff.
Roberts was joined by parent Sunny Dearborn who said that, in her opinion, there is a culture of intimidation within the district. She said some teachers are choosing early retirement and there seems to be a lack of support for teachers and parents.
Other attendees at the district meeting who spoke included two Canterbury parents who supported forming the "culture committee".
Roberts said yesterday that the potential hiring of a private contractor by the school board is not what the people who attended the district meeting wanted.
He said the advisory warrant article that passed asked for an independent committee that contained two members of the school board, two members of the staff and two members of the general community (one each from Belmont and Canterbury) to be named by him as moderator. Roberts said he anticipated there would be some kind of survey performed by some outside company and the issue he has with what the board has done so far is not about the money.
When asked what the difference is, he said the survey they had envisioned would question staff and former staff only and the questions would be driven by the committee, not solely by the school board.
"This way the board gets to control the survey," he said. "It's not independent."
"These people who showed up at the meeting were unsatisfied with nearly every decision the board made," Roberts said, naming the Gale School, the proposed elimination of a high school science teacher and the decision not to have full-day kindergarten as items all decided by the board and reversed by the voters at meeting.
"The message was to have the board step away," he said, likening it to a vote of no confidence. "The board doesn't have any credibility with the community."
Dissatisfaction with the board was also partially reflected in the election when Belmont residents voted incumbent Donna Cilley out of office in favor of Patty Brace. Cilley was on the ballot but because of personal reasons did not actively campaign for her seat. She did not support full-time kindergarten for the 2015-2016 school year.
Canterbury resident Heidi Hutchinson ran unopposed for re-election. Hutchinson also voted for full-day universal pre-kindergarten and against full-day kindergarten.
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