Tonight’s Tri-Board meeting to discuss the Trust Administration Order was three hours of minutiae punctuated by a half hour of substantive discussion on the spending policy. In particular, the italicized phrase in the sentence below:
“The educational uses of the distributed funds shall be determined by the Ipswich School Committee, with preference when feasible for supplemental enrichment programs and uses that provide educational enhancement for Ipswich public school students.”
There was a surprisingly large variety of opinions among members of the three boards as to what was appropriate. The range went from a suggestion that the School Committee should not, in any way, restrict the potential uses of the funds in the Trust document to suggestions that there should be no leeway for the funds to be used for anything but enhancement and that this could be best enforced by Trustees that are sufficiently independent of the School Committee, possibly through a granting structure as had been discussed in earlier versions of this document. There was much discussion, but in the end it was up to the 5 members of the School Committee in attendance. Rachel Roesler moved to strike “with preference when feasible” and this motion failed by a vote of 3-2 (with Jen Bauman joining in the affirmative). Then Barry moved to strike only “when feasible” and this motion passed 3-2 (with Jeff Loeb and Laura Dietz joining in the affirmative). It was not clear at the time why those in the affirmative thought that removing only this part of the text would have any substantive effect in practice, since “with preference” and “when feasible” seem to be duplicative.
It would appear that there is no clear consensus on this issue among the three boards, and since we are confident that this trust document is not going to be implemented anyway due to the intervention, there may yet be opportunities to revisit the question with a broader constituency participating.
So while the outcome was not what we had hoped for, we did get one critical thing that we were denied in the decision to sell Little Neck: a public airing of the question, with the cameras rolling, and where members of the boards could be held accountable to the statements made in the meeting.