The establishment of the SBC in Longmeadow followed the letter of the law as set forth in Chapter 70B and in the accompanying MSBA regulations, and complied with our Town Charter. Section 4-4 of the Town Charter gives the Select Board and the School Committee the authority to establish new committees as necessary to conduct town business. The Select Board and the School Committee held joint open meetings on June 16, 2008 and June 23, 2008, to interview and then vote on the proposed community members of the SBC. Those members were thus vetted by publicly elected officials in open session. As noted above, the other members are specifically enumerated in the MSBA regulations. The July 21, 2008 letter from E. Jahn Hart, then-Superintendent of Longmeadow Public Schools, to the MSBA (erroneously cited by Mr. Grant as being sent by the Town Manager) requested approval of the SBC membership as required by the MSBA regulations. Upon such approval by the MSBA, the SBC became the local body with responsibility for shepherding the high school project through the MSBA and town approvals, as well as through the design and construction phases of the project. The SBC is simply a creature of state and local law organized pursuant to applicable regulations.
Lastly, we must take issue with Mr. Grant's assertion that there has been no public involvement or input in the design of new high school, and that no opportunity exists for such input. The SBC is an appointed public body subject to the Commonwealth's open meeting laws, and as such, all meetings are publicly posted in advance. Residents who would like to learn more about the project and offer feedback are always invited to attend. We also remind Mr. Grant of the well-advertised series of public forums held to discuss the design options for the high school project during the months leading up to the May 25, 2010 Town Meeting vote approving the project. In addition, the planning board and zoning board of appeals held publicly noticed hearings on the project in November and December of 2010, respectively. All these meetings and hearings have provided and will continue to provide a multitude of opportunities for public input on decisions still to be made by the SBC. The obligation of the SBC is to the residents of Longmeadow, who so strongly supported the high school project but who will also demand that the project be constructed in a transparent and fiscally responsible way. The members of the SBC promise to continue to work diligently on behalf of our community to plan and construct a high school in which our children can receive the highest quality 21st century education available anywhere.
Respectfully submitted by the Longmeadow School Building Committee, Christine Swanson