Should the North Kingstown School Committee be reduced from seven members to five? Voters may be faced with that questions come election day.
Over the past few months, the North Kingstown Town Council has been discussing and deliberating a handful of topics in the town's charter to re-examine and possibly change. Six topics were sent to the Charter Review Commission this spring for study.
Among the suggested changes was reducing the number of members on the town's school – a measure that the majority of the commission opposed.
“Four of the commission members felt that even though there has been some controversy with the school committee, there should be seven member as approximately 70 percent of the town budget funds the school department and the required educational programs and mandates,” said Nick Dewhurst, chair of the commission, in his report to the council.
According to the commission’s research of other municipalities across the state, 16 communities have seven members (including South Kingstown, East Greenwich and Portsmouth) while 14 have five (including Barrington, Narragansett and Coventry).
Amongst the other proposed changes is the institution of term limits for elected officials and appoint commission, committee and board members. The commission recommended that no person can serve for more than 12 years on a particular board, commission, committee or council – similar to the restrictions imposed on elected officials in East Greenwich. Additionally, they could not be reelected/reappointed to that body for two consecutive years thereafter. Most cities and towns do not impose term limits, according to the commission’s findings.
Another area the commission studied as amending the charter to grant the town manager authority to appoint and dismiss department heads. The majority of the commission recommended there should be an “advise and consent” on the part of the town council, but voted against requiring the town manager to seek the council’s approval. The charter currently allows the administration of the town to be done without the interference of the council.
The town has until Aug. 8 to submit questions for the November ballot. The council plans to vote on whether the questions go to voters at its July 30 meeting.