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Mendon Upton School Committee to Hold Coffee Hours

The Mendon Upton Regional School Committee has formed a task force to discuss options to increase their public outreach in the Mendon and Upton communities.

School Committee Members Diane Duncan, Pamela Angenent, and Dorothy Scally have joined the task force and held their kick-off meeting on February 18 to discuss ways to further connect with the public beyond School Committee Meetings.

"I thought that the School Committee should have a platform not only to share information but also to have a way to interact with the public," said Committee Member Diane Duncan who came up with the idea of additional public outreach.

Duncan said that she is often approached on the sidelines during her children's sporting events, leaving her wondering about how other residents could get their questions answered or concerns heard. "I have never had anyone approach me that did not know me," said Duncan, "They should be able to and they can."

She brought the idea of a more "formal" outreach plan to the School Committee, and they agreed to assign a task force to look into the best communication channels for both parent and non-parent residents.

"I want to do something, instead of doing nothing, to find a way to have a little more presence in the community," said Duncan.

The task force began their meeting discussing different options to reach out to the public, including starting a Facebook page or a website that gave a bio of each of the School Committee Members.

"People should know who we are individually as well as collectively; that is really important," said Scally.

An idea for an informal coffee-hour was also raised as a way to get people to meet face to face with the Committee Members.

"Maybe someone feels more comfortable in a more intimate setting then to have to speak up at a School Committee Meeting," said Duncan. "We may be able to get a better sense of how people want to be communicated with."

Angenent agreed that a coffee hour would be a good place to begin before moving forward. "The feedback we get [from the coffee hour] could help us decide which way to go," she said.

It was agreed that the coffee-hours would be "conversational" in nature with three School Committee Members in attendance, giving residents the opportunity to ask questions and/or provide feedback to the Committee. The task force agreed to hold the public outreach meetings quarterly.

Duncan stressed that as the Regional School Committee represents the towns of both Mendon and Upton, that the coffee hours be open to both Mendon and Upton residents. "I think it is good for people to know and feel that they are being heard; that they are being taken seriously," she said.

The first coffee hour/public outreach meeting is scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m. at the Mendon Senior Center. Residents of Mendon and Upton are welcome and refreshments will be served.


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