Saturday, April 20, 2024

An imminent snowstorm canceled a meeting set for Wednesday to let members of the public say what they think of proposals to restructure the school system. Tuesday and Saturday meetings remained.

The Tuesday event runs from from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Saturday’s is from 10 a.m. to noon at the Work Force Office at 119 Windsor St.

These will not be the typical municipal meeting, said Mayor David Maher. As mayor, he also leads the School Committee as well as the City Council.

Instead of signing up to speak and being called in turn to come up to a lectern for three minutes, people at the Tuesday meeting will instead be given colored tags as they enter. People whose tags share a color will come up as a group to talk directly with Superintendent Jeffrey Young and other school officials, Maher said Monday after a council meeting.

“We want to create an environment where there is more dialogue, more interactivity, where I’ll have an opportunity not just to sit and take notes — although I will — but also to interact, to probe, to follow up with questions, to engage people in a more back-and-forth manner,” Young said.

Although three reports written by committee teams are online for reading by members of the public, and it is from these reports guiding Young when he proposes changes to the district next month, he was hoping comments Tuesday wouldn’t merely spring from what’s been written in them.

“What we’re looking for here is not so much a matter of saying, ‘Oh, I like this model’ or ‘Don’t do that model,’” Young said, describing his hopes for the forums. “What we are looking for is what works, what are your hopes for your children, what do you consider an excellent education, what can we be doing to provide that high-quality education, what are the things that, bottom line, must be present in our schools?”

The reports look at school buildings, school choice and how best to remodel the district. After Young makes recommendations to the committee, there will be town halls with the public Feb. 9-10. A third date is being discussed.

This post was updated when snow officially canceled the Wednesday meeting.