At last night's session of Town Meeting (Night 2), I attempted unsuccessfully (some might say naively) to consolidate the school department's capital budget requests into one motion, to try to infuse some organization into what seemed like a disorganized mess of a warrant article. There were 31 capital requests under Article 6, with five separate motions, and debate endured for well over 4 hours and two nights, pinballing from one line item to another without any rhyme or reason. In the meantime, parents at town meeting with babysitters on the clock at home are anxiously waiting to vote on the school capital budget items. A vote on Article 6 finally happened after 10PM last night, closing out the 6th of 38 articles.

Someone approached me after I made my motion, lamenting that if we move all the school budget votes up front, all the parents will then head home and not participate in the rest of town meeting's business. I agree that this would be unfortunate. But if we continue to have 5 or 6-night town meetings, can we really expect working parents to attend every single session, incurring babysitting expenses each night? The obvious answer is reforming the format of town meeting itself. Shouldn't we be accommodating the few hardy souls (3-5% of the electorate) that actually come out to town meeting by providing incentives for them to continue to participate, rather than discouraging them from ever coming back?