Months after an ad hoc committee of school board and Stoughton Common Council members stopped meeting, school board members want to give it another go – although with mixed levels of optimism.
Board members talked Monday night about a recent study they commissioned about why young people move to – or leave – Stoughton, and the need to work with the city on that and other issues. With the goal of creating a permanent committee rather than one designed for a specific, temporary purpose, board president Frank Sullivan said he would reach out alders to see if they are interested. He said he’s hopeful both sides can work together more effectively this time around.
“I feel like the tone of the discussion has changed,” he said. “I could be wrong about that, but we’ve had significant interest from numerous city council members about declining enrollment, we had council members here to talk to us about the young adults study and the findings.”
The original committee was created in the spring of 2017 as a means to better address issues affecting both the city and district, such as marketing, housing, school enrollment and poverty. It came as the result of two joint meetings of both full boards earlier that year. Three members represented each side on the committee, which was tasked to meet quarterly.
By summer 2018, the group had almost completely new members, and by then it had narrowed its mission statement to “Make Stoughton a community of choice that attracts and retains young families.” Last year, the group stopped meeting amid some disagreement about its scope and purpose.
Board member Tim Bubon said the committee needs to be a permanent one, not a one-off effort.
“We need to have ongoing decisions with the city, and it needs to be part of how we do business, rather than an ad hoc committee,” he said.
Sullivan suggested a group consisting of three members from each body and potentially other community members that would meet every other month, with an agenda addressing issues of mutual concern.
“A new way for the board and the city to talk to each other,” Sullivan suggested.
“I think that would be a start,” Bubon added.
Board member Joe Freye said it would be important that the school board and council retain control over the group’s agenda, however. He suggested the representatives change on each side every year to provide more opinions.
“Sometimes you get those six people together and they start going in a direction that may or may not be the direction the boards think is appropriate and important,” he said.