Last Tuesday’s SC Meeting (9-27)
I will let Jeff answer for himself, but FYI town officials _have_ been involved in SC business in the past, specifically union negotiations. I don't know the details because it was the selectboards, but members of both the Montague and Gill selectboards have sat on the negotiating committees that have met with the unions (I believe they shared one vote on the final outcome).
I believe the rationale has been that at least 70% of the district's costs are for personnel, and since the district just sends the bill on to the towns therefore the towns should have some say in how high that bill is. It might be nice if the SC thought that was _their_ responsibility, but from what I have seen they don't: they believe their responsibility is to provide the best education, and what it costs is not their concern.
This might be okay if the school district assessment were like other budgets, because the police chief, the highway superintendent, and the other department heads often have the same attitude (and, arguably, they should). But at town meeting, the voters can tell a department that they have to live with X% less than they asked for and that's that -- the department has to live with it. That's not true for the school district: town meeting can either approve the district assessment request or turn it down (and approving another number counts as turning it down). And if the SC decides they can't live with the new number, then there is no budget and there has to be another meeting. So who is watching out for the taxpayers in this case? If it's not the SC, then who?
Also FYI, the Finance Committee in Montague has never expressed any interest, formally or informally, in being involved the the superintendent selection process. A member of the Gill finance committee, as well as members of both towns' selectboards, have expressed interest, and IMHO (as a member of the Montague Finance Committee) if anyone were to be involved the selectboards would be the obvious choice. (The Council on Aging or the Board of Assessors would _not_ be appropriate, IMHO ;-).
But that's "if" with a capital "I". Ideally, I agree with you -- selection of a superintendent is a SC matter, and the SC should handle it. But looking back over the past ten years, the SC has not had a good track record of selecting successful superintendents. After Tony Serio left, there have been two caretakers (Judy Brenner and Ken Rocke), along with three actual hires who all ended up leaving for one reason or another (Roma Hansis, Sue Gee, and Carl Ladd).
That's a lot of superintendents over not very long a time. Now the SC seems all but ready to hire a person who people like and seems very talented but has never been a superintendent before. She seems to have a lot of potential, but potential is not the same as accomplishment, and yet the SC doesn't really seem to care [alternative view: the SC cannot get past its internal dysfunction to act appropriately].
Given the fact that the district could bankrupt the towns and/or ruin its chances to be a viable district if we slide back into the budget battles of just a few years ago, is it surprising that some town officials are raising their hands and saying, "um, can I help you with this?"