The Sachem Central School District Board of Education voted Wednesday to add nine additional members to its Facilities Study committee in a special meeting at Samoset Middle School in Lake Ronkonkoma.
The vote came one week after several residents claimed at the Oct. 9 work session to have been excluded due to a current or previous affiliation to either a Sachem PTA organization or the Board of Education.
Board of Education trustee Michael Timo said during last week’s meeting that the facilitator for the committee’s formation made a recommendation to exclude applications based on if they were a PTA official.
Michael Kinney, the facilitator who also serves this role for other school districts, spoke at Wednesday’s special meeting and explained the suggestion, which he clarified is ultimately at the board’s discretion to take.
“My belief is that you don’t necessarily appoint somebody as a representative of a particular group,” Kinney said. “What you’re trying to do is appoint people who have an overall view and overall psychological ownership of the district that feel as though they could have a broad view.”
Kinney said he would personally not designate PTA representatives, as being on the committee would put them in a difficult position. However he said that other districts have added representatives in the past if the decision was made that they could serve appropriately as general representatives of the district. Kinney used the PTA president position as an example.
“By the very nature of their position they are a representative of their school and an advocate, so by that very definition it is very difficult for them to be broad based,” Kinney said.
The large size of Sachem’s school district creates a challenge in finding residents with a broad view, Kinney said. He also cautioned the board against having people represent different schools, as he said that creates division when the committee is looking to reach a consensus.
Before adding nine members, the committee already had 19 people appointed. Kinney said he will work with whomever the board designates, but said that larger committees become more complicated. He recommended 20 to 25 members to be a good number, and said that more than that can get unwieldy. There are now 28 members with Wednesday night's addition.
Facilities Study committee meetings are open for the public to observe the group working, but the public will not be able to listen in during the meeting's small group work sessions.
What are your thoughts on the addition of nine members and the selection process for this committee? Do you agree that members should have a broad view of the district or would prefer that members represent specific areas of the district? Talk about it in the comments below.