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Peabody mayor, school board to participate in weekend seminar

PEABODY – Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti and School Committee members will gather on Saturday for a daylong seminar sponsored by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC).The seven participants will take part in “Charting the Course,” a mandatory orientation program for newly elected school committee members of Massachusetts.The program has been required on an individual basis in Peabody for many years; however, with the encouragement of School Committee member Beverly Ann Griffin Dunne, all members, new and old, will now participate together as a group.”I always thought this would be a very helpful thing for the Committee and help us work well together,” said Dunne, who first introduced the idea to her board members two years ago. “We’re finally able to have this training and show support of our new members.”Dunne likens the seminar to a form of professional development.”It explains your role and responsibility as a member,” she said.Michael Gilbert, MASC Field Director for Information and Technology will lead this weekend’s session. He’ll cover such topics as executive session protocol, open meeting law, school finance, collective bargaining, and conflict of interest. He’ll also touch on leadership standards and evaluations and Special Education.”One of the best things about Saturday’s training is that we’ll be able to talk together about issues and ask questions and get specific answers,” said Dunne. “It’s always good to see a topic through other people’s eyes.”As the city’s mayor and School Committee ex-officio, Bonfanti said he’s certainly felt the heat. He said that like most mayors, he believes in his school system and truly wants the best, but his job involves finding a way to balance the needs of the community within a specific budget.”To get people to understand that role will be good for me,” said Bonfanti.Bonfanti believes that the “chemistry is very good” between this new group of members, but it’s always important to work towards a common ground.”I believe it’ll be a positive thing and that’s the intent,” he said. “To get people working together, this is the first step.”Peabody is one of many Massachusetts school districts that belong to the MASC. By being a member, “Charting the Course,” and many other programs are of no cost to the city. MASC also provides Committee members with legislative updates, news on educational funding, and packets of related materials on a regular basis.Saturday’s session will be specifically for Peabody School Committee members and the Mayor, although the public is welcome to attend. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Kiley School, 21 Johnston St., Peabody.

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