By William F. Zachmann, for the Duxbury Clipper
It has long been a common practice in Duxbury, when some insiders want to persuade voters to do something, to create a supposedly ‘impartial study committee’ carefully crafted to come up with the desired recommendation. That makes it possible for advocates to claim that is really was not their idea, that they are simply supporting the recommendations of a committee (which, of course, they created for the purpose). Often, the stated purpose of the committee as much disguises as advertises its real intent.
A genuinely good idea, however, needs no such shenanigans for adoption. Some folks, however, have grown so accustomed to Duxbury’s Study Committee Ritual that they practice it habitually instead of just bringing forward a perfectly sensible proposal and getting the job done. In so doing, they slow down rather than facilitate its adoption.
A clear current case is the creation of a new, high-level, position in Duxbury Town Government for a professional facilities manager responsible for the care, maintenance, and construction of all Town buildings – including the schools. There is just no excuse for the shoddy maintenance of Duxbury’s Schools over the past two decades (at least). And there is no valid reason why building maintenance (and construction) should not be handled Town-wide from Town Hall.
Professional facilities management by the Town is the best way to free the Superintendent of Schools and the Duxbury School Department to concentrate on their real job: ensuring the highest possible quality of education for Duxbury’s school children. They should not be burdened with building maintenance or construction oversight, which only distracts them from their primary responsibilities.
The Duxbury School Committee, in turn, must strongly advocate and support the creation of a Town Facilities Manager position and the delegation of responsibility to that position for the schools, as well as for the other Town buildings. This is especially important as Duxbury moves forward with the likely construction of a very expensive combined new middle and high school. Overseeing that construction is not an educational activity and can distract the Superintendent and the School Department from their real job of ensuring quality education.
Selectman Ted Flynn, who previously served on the School Committee as well, has been a strong advocate for the creation of such a position. Unfortunately, efforts to move it forward have become tangled with other issues and agendas. We do not need another government study committee or protracted strategic planning exercises to get moving with this one. We do not need to engineer a committee recommendation for it. We just need to do it.
Let us hope, therefore, that the Board of Selectmen will stop pussy-footing around on this one and get moving toward putting the necessary article on the Warrant of our next Town Meeting to create the position. Let us hope, too, that the School Committee will act responsibly, welcome and support the proposal, and do the right thing by delegating responsibility to the Town for school building construction and maintenance. It should have been done already. Let us at least get it down now!