Running for Office

Have you ever considered becoming a member of the Marblehead School Committee? Town elections occur every year, the second week in May and the School Committee is always on the ballot, with at least one open position. The School Committee has five members, elected on a rotating basis for three year terms. (Note: if there has been a resignation, there may be an open position on the SC for less than 3 years).

 

 Summary: Election to School Committee:
  •  School Committee is an elected 3 year position, five members, rotating terms
  •  Elections, 2nd week of May
  •  Role of School Committee: oversee the school district budget, hire and evaluate the superintendent of schools, and establish district policy
  •  School Committee meets generally twice per month, Thursday evenings at 7 PM.  
  •  Qualifications: you must be a registered Marblehead voter
  •  To become a candidate, contact Town Clerk’s office
  •  For more information, please see below

 

Why run?
Public service is a way to enrich and serve our community. A high-functioning School Committee facilitates the work of the superintendent, which benefits all students.

What is the role of the School Committee?
The Education Act of 1993 re-defined the role of Massachusetts School Committees. The School Committee's role is to oversee the school district budget, hire and evaluate the superintendent of schools, and establish district policy. The School Committee does not hire principals, teachers or staff, although there are a few exceptions, e.g. business manager, nurses. The School Committee annually develops a set of goals for itself.

How does this differ from the role of Superintendent?
The School Committee's work is big picture-- setting goals and vision along with policies (general guidelines) for the district to promote student achievement. The superintendent is in charge of personnel, including the hiring of principals, day- to day operations, and establishing regulations and detailed directives to institute the policies. The School Committee works with the Superintendent; the Superintendent works with the staff. The School Committee is concerned with the end results; the Superintendent is in charge of the methods to achieve the end results. The School Committee monitors progress toward broad goals; the Superintendent generates reports on progress for the School Committee. Both the Superintendent and School Committee advocate on behalf of the Marblehead Public schools.

How do the School Committee and Superintendent work together?
The School Committee and Superintendent generate a set of mutually agreed-upon Operating Protocols to facilitate understanding of respective roles in a variety of circumstances, identified as a "best practice" for high –performing school committees by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. These Operating Protocols are modified as needed and reviewed annually. School Committee norms of behavior are identified in the School Committee Code of Ethics. Overall, the goal is to operate as a team.

How does the School Committee work?
The School Committee's power stems from its actions as a team, when a vote is taken. Therefore, the ability to work together is crucial to success. Individual members have no power alone, and must abide by Committee votes.

How is the School Budget determined?
The superintendent and her district leadership team begin work on the budget for May Town Meeting the preceding September, gathering information from staff, assessing student achievement to determine areas of need, looking at enrollment projections, etc. It is a "needs based" budget, meaning everything is on the table for analysis every year. The school department also consults with the town finance committee. As the new budget is being developed, it is brought to the School Committee for discussion several times, before a vote. The school budget also must be brought before the Finance Committee for approval prior to final approval via a vote at May Town Meeting. Current year budget expenditures are monitored by the School Committee, through reports at meetings.

What is Policy?
School Committee policies are statements that form guidelines to chart a course of action (what and why). They form a framework within which district leadership acts to put the policy into practice.

Does the School Committee interact with students?
The Superintendent has instituted the practice of scheduling several School Committee meetings per year in schools so students and their work can be showcased. A high school student serves as a student representative at School Committee meetings. School Committee members often attend district events- sports, plays, graduations, etc.

When does School Committee meet?
The School Committee meets generally twice per month, Thursday evenings at 7 PM.

What is the purpose of a School Committee Meeting?
School Committee meetings are opportunities for the Committee to accomplish business. Often, reports are received from the Superintendent on budget, curriculum, achievement, and various operations within the district. Meetings are open to the public and there is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the meeting. Meeting documents, generated to inform the School Committee on topics that will come before it, are posted on the district website generally the Friday after a Thursday night meeting. Minutes of meetings are posted on the district website, once approved. On occasion, a "Public Hearing" may be held to receive feedback from the public.

What is the time commitment?
The time commitment is variable, depending on what other activities the School Committee member chooses and the time of year. Preparation ahead of each meeting takes, on average, about 2 hours (to read over the materials, formulate questions for the leadership team). Committee members also act as liaisons to at least one Site Based Management Team with a monthly meeting. Other voluntary duties include serving on Superintendent Advisory Committees (e.g. Facilities, Health and Wellness), School Committee subcommittees (e.g. policy, budget). Members who are elected to be chair, vice-chair and secretary have additional responsibilities with time commitments. New members are required to take a 6 hour training session with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees within the first year.

What should I do if I might be interested and want to learn more?
Volunteer to serve on Site Based Management Team, to get a sense of how the district operates and sets goals at the school level. Get to know other parents in the schools through the PTOs or various school-related volunteer organizations. Attend school district events and some School Committee meetings. Get familiar with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Monitor committee agendas for items of interest (agendas are posted on the town webpage and the district page). Contact the superintendent to see if there are any openings on Advisory Committees. Volunteer to serve on your school's interview committees for new staff. Speak to the Superintendent and members of the School Committee by phone or in person.

What qualifications are required to run for election?
You must be a registered voter in Marblehead. You do not need to have children in the Marblehead Public schools, although many School Committee members do.

Openings
Each year, one or two 3 year term positions are up for election for the five member committee. On occasion, if there has been a resignation, a shorter term may be on the ballot. You can check with the town clerk for the specifics each year.

When do I have to decide?
Those who wish to run for office can "take out nomination papers" from the Town Clerk's office in Abbot Hall --petitions to place their name on the ballot by obtaining the signatures of registered voters (generally in March prior to the May election). Details, deadlines, etc. can be obtained at the Town Clerks' office.

Developed by members of the Marblehead School Committee (2016)

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