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As Town Diversity Grows, Select Board Works To Establish Holiday Policy

by Connie Sartini
Town Manager Mark Haddad advised the Select Board at their Monday virtual meeting that he had worked closely with the Groton Interfaith Council to prepare a list of Holidays for multiple religious groups. The purpose of the list is to establish guidelines for public meetings on holidays for all Town Boards and Committees.
     He suggested the following policy statement to the Board.
A. It is the policy of the Select Board that no Town Board or Committee shall hold regularly scheduled meetings on any recognized and/or declared Local, State or Federal holiday including religious holidays, except under emergency circumstances.
B. The following is a list of holidays to which this policy applies (subject to annual review and additions by the Select Board:
Chinese New Year
President’s Day
Patriots Day
First Night of Ramadan
Fourth of July
Krishna Janmasthami
Rosh Hashanah
Columbus Day
Veteran’s Day
Christmas Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
New Year’s Day
Maha Shivaratri
Sri Ramanavami
Good Friday
Memorial Day
Guru Poornima
Labor Day
Yom Kippur
Vijaya Dashami Day
Mawlid al-Nabi
First Night of Hanukkah
Orthodox Easter
C. All boards, committees, commissions are strongly encouraged to recognize and adopt this practice.
Discussion, Research, Revision
     Select Board member Becky Pine said she was “not in favor of this list. I don’t even know what some of them are.”
     Select Board Chairman Alison Manugian suggested eliminating sections B and C and just cite major Holidays. Colleague Josh Degen said he too felt it was a “big list.”
     Pine added that the list should be just the “ten Holidays that are part of the union contracts that everybody recognizes.” She asked what the School Department does for Holidays. “Where should this list end? The ones we know about should be included.      Adding some that none of us knows about is overkill.”
     Select Board member John Giger responded, “Just because we don’t recognize them doesn’t mean that they should not be put on the list. We need to get more education about these.”
     Following further discussion, Chairman Manugian said she would like to do more work on the list, understanding which are
State and/or Federal Holidays, and which ones fall on Sundays.
Revised Policy Established    
     After Manugian’s investigation, the following policy was established:
* It is the policy of the Select Board that no Town Board or Committee shall hold regularly scheduled meetings on any recognized and/or declared Local, State or Federal holiday, including religious holidays except under emergency circumstances.
The following is a list of holidays voted by the Select Board to which this policy applies:
New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King Day
Presidents Day
Patriots Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veterans Day
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day
     If a meeting is posted and a religious holiday precludes attendance by an individual or group, the Town Manager in consultation with the Select Board Chair shall be contacted and the agenda items of interest shall be deferred or continued to the next meeting.
Select Board member John Giger added that if a Board has a member whose religion prevents attendance, the meeting should not be scheduled for that night, and the committee should not meet.
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