The Barrington School Committee has new Democratic leadership.
Partisan politics prevailed during the board’s reorganization before Thursday night’s meeting. With Democrats now having three of the five seats after November’s election, Democrat Robert Shea Jr. was elected chairman of the board and Democrat Kate Brody was elected vice-chairwoman.
Shea replaces Patrick Guida, a Republican, at the helm of the committee. Brody, who had lobbied for bipartisan leadership about a year ago when Republican Scott Fuller was selected vice-chairman in place of Shea, was selected vice-chairwoman.
There was no reference at all on Thursday night to bipartisan leadership by any board member. The votes for Shea and Brody were unanimous, 5-0.
Shea actually returns to the post as chairman. He held that spot for about six months in 2010 after former School Committee chairman Jim Hasenfus resigned from the board to seek election to the state Senate.
Shea praised Guida as the School Committee chairman and described him as a “mentor” who has been an oustanding source of guidance, leadership and respect. Shea thanked him for his support and his long service to the schools, which includes more than 10 years as School Committee chairman.
Shea said he had no immediate plans to change how the board operates. But, he said, the School Committee will definitely “be working in a different manner” during his leadership by virtue of the fact that it is adopting a Strategic Plan that is establishing several new subcommittees to deal with certain issues.
“It really will require us to work differently than we have in the past,” he said. “The only subcommittee we’ve had in the four years that I’ve been on the school committee is the Health and Wellness Subcommittee.”
Shea served as chairman of that subcommittee, which has worked to establish healthier food choices in the schools and was the group pushing for a change to the school start times. That issue is on the back burner right now.
Among the new subcommittees will be one on policy and procedure and one on technology. Several others are anticipated.