If you've followed Board of Ed business at all the last few years, you'd know that members sit in the same place for each meeting. I never really thought about how that order was established until I sat through this first meeting with the new board and noticed everyone was all moved around. Specifically, the Superintendent now sits next to the Asst. Superintendent on the far right (instead of sitting next to the BOE Chairman, Dr. Nocera, who is in the yellow shirt on the far left of the picture), and Business Manager Nancy Haynes isn't seated at all anymore.
I asked newly elected BOE member Ed McKeon who assigned the seats, and he replied that seating is basically determined by the number of votes received during the election, but that BOE members also worked it out as to where people would sit.
Interestingly, after turning over the Chairman's seat to Dr. Nocera, Ted Raczka chose to sit at the very far left side of the room, next to Marcy Poppel (the Superintendent's administrative assistant who takes minutes of the meeting). There were several empty seats between Ted and the nearest BOE member, Cheryl McClellan, which meant I couldn't get Ted in the picture with everyone else.
I also find body language very interesting, and all of the new BOE members were sitting up and forward in their seats. They appeared shiny and new and interested in what was going on. Sitting BOE members like Ryan Kennedy and Bill Grady were far more relaxed in their seats, and tended to lean back and away from the conversation. And then there was Ted, very disconnected from the rest of his board members, resting the side of his head in his hand for most of the meeting.
I comment on seating arrangements and body language because both are a real clue as to how people get along (or don't), and what they think of their personal value as compared to a group value. I was encouraged to see a Democratic Chairman nominate a Republican Vice-Chairman, even if two BOE members voted against her. I was also encouraged to see the board (mostly) sitting together, with the Superintendent next to the Asst. Superintendent on the far side of the room. Visually, it sends an organized message (like groups sitting together), and it's comforting to us OCD types.
Mostly, though, I'm hoping it's not for show. Politics shouldn't matter when it comes to getting the best possible education for our children, and I'm hoping that the new Board of Education will remember that. There is much to do in the months ahead as the budget cycle is already starting. I'm looking forward to getting to know this new board, as I hope you are. Stay tuned!