Tri-Board: shaking things up, one loooong meeting at a time

I’m writing to you today because of a quiet story that affects your daily life. I felt it was time to share.

Here in Stoneham, every year we used to approve $70m of public money being spent – a.k.a. the town budget – based on a one page spreadsheet distributed the very same night as annual town meeting. It was mind boggling.

I can’t tell you how many years of meetings went by where our conversations revolved around questions of: Where is the reliable information? What is the big picture here? How are we to make informed decisions? Raw data and information fragments were the norm.

We argued over information instead of building plans for the future.

And then a big change started to happen. We started to get the house in order.

With a predictable budget calendar and a nationally recognized budget book, today we know where we stand. We can focus our energies on figuring out where exactly we want to go as a community.

Think of a public service or institution that you see struggling here. There is no shortage. I’m sure you thought of at least three right away. The first step to moving from struggling to thriving has now been taken.

We can turn your frustrations into change because, without question or delusion, we know where we stand. And we know it is an unpleasant spot. There are grave misalignments between our values and what we’re able to muster for funds right now. There is a lot of work ahead to plan together for better things.

I think we can make it happen though. Yes, I do. If we continue to struggle forward together, as we have to create the progress of recent years, then there is no problem here that we cannot solve.

I hope that if you are interested in getting involved in this work, you will not hesitate to find an on ramp to being part of it. One ramp that I try to keep always available is an open offer to meet with anyone interested in local government work. My email address: rachel.meredithwarren@stonehamschools.org.

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

Sincerely,
Rachel
Elected Member, School Committee of Stoneham Public Schools
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This message represents my own thoughts only, not of any group I’m affiliated with.

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Tri Board

When boards operate in separate silos, problems of misunderstanding, misinformation are everywhere. There’s a lot more room for outright mischief too.

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Stoneham has done a great thing in putting a predictable Triboard meeting system in place. Your Select Board, Finance Board and School Committee met to kick off the FY20 budget cycle last night. A shared budget calendar, a nationally recognized town budget book and this meeting routine mean you get better – and better cost controlled – public services. Last year was the most drama free and productive budget cycle I’ve ever participated in. This year promises more.

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After many years of debates over Where is the reliable information? We are finally getting to a place where we can debate policy and future looking plans.

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This pic is your School Committee at the August 19, 2019 Triboard.Share Facebooktwittermail

Reading list…

Summer is winding down. The first Tri Board meeting of FY20 is tonight, with many more meetings on the immediate horizon where we’ll make pivotal, far reaching yet un-ballyhooed decisions.

A lot of important prep work for the fall happens in August. It’s a month of new beginnings.

In the fall, I turn back to almost exclusively serious reading. I got this book to get better grounded in the recent past and help me figure out my own opinions about how we should shape the future. We’re struggling with the notion of the nation state in what has become a very small world. I was an American History major in college, so looking into the facts of the past has always been my way of navigating into the future. How do we preserve what is worth preserving, shed what no longer serves and move forward. Truly forward – where change and loss are usually part of the cost.

I’m sharing this because I think a lot of you are struggling through the same questions I am. I wanted you to know that I’m sharing your struggle and bringing it to my work as we go along.Share Facebooktwittermail

High School Process Moving Forward Thanks to Town Meeting Voters

Thank you to everyone who came to Town Meeting last night! You showed resounding, unanimous support for the Stoneham High School modernization project. We are now able to move forward with hiring a team of design and engineering professionals to determine, along with many other aspects of the project, whether new construction or renovation is the best approach.

Want more details on the High School project? Click on the report of the High School School Building Committee below.

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