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School Committee's still a table for seven

October 22, 2010

School Committee member Paul Martin (right, with former school administrative office secretary Virginia Guiliani at a recent meeting), proposed reducing the committee's membership from seven to five.

The School Committee membership will change after the Nov. 2 election, but the number of seats on the dais won't.
By a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the committee voted not to pursue a town charter change that would reduce the number of members to five, a proposal committee member Paul Martin offered as a means of saving money.
Martin estimated that the reduction could save the district $6,400 in salary and health care benefits or buyback money for members who don't accept the health care package.
“This committee can be just as efficient as it has been, with two fewer members,” he said. “With negotiating contracts with teachers or hiring, sometimes it's easier for a superintendent to deal with five members.”
Susan Records was the only other committee member to support the proposal.
The reduction would have required Town Council approval, necessary for a charter change, and could not have taken effect until 2012.
Four of the seven seats are up for election this year, with staggered four-year terms.
Robert Durant, who opposed the change, said the committee's level of activity made the two extra members worth the cost.
“We're more active than other school committees, and we have subcommittees. If you have seven members and one or two can't make a meeting, you have a better chance of a quorum,” he said.
Jean Ann Guliano said she could see advantages to both sides, but leaned toward keeping the number at seven.
“We're a very participatory committee, and the more input you have from committee members, the more opinions you get,” she said.
The only school committees in Rhode Island larger than East Greenwich's are Providence (13 members, appointed by the mayor) and Chariho Regional (11 members, elected by residents of its three towns), Martin said.

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