Thursday, February 26, 2009

O Captain! My Captain!

UPDATE: Saturday (2/28) high noon:
Okay so both newspapers have now justified their existence and reported the resignation of our acting co supers. And of course the School Committee thanks them for their service and wishes them well in the future and all that bureaucratic BS. By next week, like the Anne Awad affair, nobody will remember their name.

So now the announcement Monday night of the new full-time, non-acting Superintendent (where this same School Committee will screw up again) can stand (or fall) on its own merits.

UPDATE: Friday (2/27) 3:30 PM:
Yeah, now the truth can be told: From the Illustrious Select Board no less (auto generated "as a rule"):

From: Alisa V. Brewer[AVBREWER@COMCAST.NET]
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2009 3:02:39 PM
To: Select Board
Subject: Clipping Service: Interim Amherst superintendents Helen Vivian and Alton Sprague quit, health reasons
Auto forwarded by a Rule

UPDATE: Friday (2/27) 7:00 AM

Well amazingly the crusty Gazette caught up, written by illustrious editor Noah Hoffenberg himself (hopefully the Gazette has not laid off all the reporters). Of course School officials would neither confirm or deny the Supers demise but that in itself is confirmation.

Catherine Sanderson made a good point saying the full-time staff had to step up anyway when the interim folks came in suddenly, so they will be able to handle things for the next few months. My two year old had a "bacterial respiratory ailment" recently and the antibiotics cleared it up within a week. Hmmm...

UPDATE: 10:45 PM


Gotta wonder if the Gazette managed to get some school official to go “on the record” about this (Thank God!) breaking development. We will know in about six hours. Although sadly, folks who read the hard copy edition will know before Gazettenet.com internet readers.

And yeah, you gotta love the irony: the highest paid position in the People’s Republic of Amherst occupied by a formerly-and-should-have-stayed- retired married couple who despise this newfangled blogesphere, have their demise first telegraphed via the web.


UPDATE: 3:00 PM
Hell No, I did not call the former, acting, not-so-super Co-Superintendents to confirm this news bulletin. But, as I'm sure you all know, I have reliable sources (and lots of them.) For the record, it will be made official Monday night.

ORIGINAL POST 1:30 PM
So the Amherst Bulletin will need to replace the “Super Column” written (I hope not on town time) by married couple Helen Vivian and Alton Sprague, former ‘Acting Co-Superintendents’ of the venerable Amherst School system.

After verbally agreeing to take the rudder in Greenfield they jumped ship and signed a one-year contract with Amherst thru June 30 at a cool $135,000. (With a two-month severance clause so they will get paid for March and April but not May and June)

They got off to a bad start. After the tragic death of a 2-year-old child in September run over by an Amherst School bus, it was revealed the Supers were at Cap Cod closing up their summer cottage.

Then, when the budget crisis caught fire, they melted like a cheap candle.

In response to a School Committee member suggesting a ‘virtual suggestion box’ so concerned folks could email the School Committee or school staff from the convenience of their computer, Mr. Sprague famously responded that in his 40 years working in public schools, “nothing good has come from a suggestion box.”

Then they were late with data unanimously requested of them by the Amherst School Committee. And a major flip-flop on reorganization plans, and maybe a tad too much support for the relatively small number of vocal parents decrying the Marks Meadow School closing.

Add it all up and they were, quite simply, in way over their heads.

28 comments:

Alison said...

Two month severance on a one year contract?! Where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

To add to your list:

the ARHS Swim Team fiasco in which the Middle School pool was closed in the middle of the team's season, and the AD sat on her hands and did nothing when the Team had no place to practice for 3 weeks. Ma and Pa Superintendent failed to let the School Committee know in a timely fashion about the closing, so that it could address the problem in advance. Ultimately, certain ambitious swimmers paid the price in terms of conditioning.

When John Coull wonders whether a superintendent candidate "can handle the Amherst-style static", he knows of what he speaks. But the swim team parents learned a lesson the hard way: they assumed that the school administration would look out for the team and it didn't. The lesson is: scream early and scream often.

Everyone who has to exercise authority is entitled to a mistake or two, and the plight of any athletic team needs to be kept in perspective BUT, thankfully, these interims are interim.

Rich Morse

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, and let's not even talk about how he handled the lack of warm water in Wildwood's restrooms.

LarryK4 said...

It could be worse Alison.

Barry Del Castilho (back when he was Town Manager and the highest paid town employee) had a ONE YEAR severance guarantee.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, lukewarm water is a crisis. They should have shut the school. Perhaps the whole town. Maybe we should have closed the borders to the state. And that bus accident was certainly their fault. They should either drive each bus themselves or follow behind each bus. That would mean some kids would not get home until midnight but it would show they were in charge.

LarryK4 said...

Not a crisis for sure. But it indicates a lack of regard for basic services.

Like a reporter spelling your name wrong, you wonder what else they screwed up.

And if we were an inner-city school in Outer Mongolia that would be one thing.

But Amherst, in the highly civilized state of Massachusetts, occupies the top ten for cost per child to educate.

And they can't provide basic service?

Not sure yet who was at fault (if anyone) over the bus accident; but the DA probably should issue her findings any day now.

I'm surprised it has taken this long (probably preoccupied with that "Justice For Jason" thing).

Anonymous said...

My point is somple: Amherst is in the top ten in terms of cost, but NOT there in terms of outcome. If I am not mistaken, Belchertown was in the *bottom* ten in terms of cost and routinely outscored/outscores Amherst....

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Hopkins Academy (Hadley) and Smith Academy (Hatfield) also score pretty high while spending a LOT less than Amherst.

Probably has something to do with being raised in a farm community where hard work is the order of the day (from dawn to dusk)

Anonymous said...

The only interesting question that remains is whether it was H.Vivian or A.Sprague who sent in that excellent "question" regarding the proper role of School Committees; fortunately they were able to field that "question" notwithstanding the lack of an electronic suggestion box. Although A.Sprague knows of no good coming from a suggestion box, it appears that the co-super, interim and don't-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-@8$ on your way out supers both find sending themselves "questions" to be highly useful

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I'm sure those underhanded techniques worked well back in the Good Old Days when they were in their prime, before the dawning of the Internet.

Let the sun shine!

Ed said...

I trust you saw the Amherst Bully on this - printed today, dated tommorow - about how he as pnenomia and she is needed to care for him...

Now I was younger, but when I had pneomia, I went from death's door to back at work inside of 10 days. And thus some of us are wondering if the medical excuse is just that....

Of course, if THEY are the ones who decided to leave, I am not so sure they are entitled to the severance, so hence it means....

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Jada had pneomia a month ago and the antibiotics cleared it up within a week.

But its a fair bet THAT will be the excuse for their sudden departure.

Considering the School Committee was silly enough to hire them in the first place, also a safe bet they will pay them the two months.

Anonymous said...

These people are in their 70s so pneumonia is a whole different thing than when you are younger.

LarryK4 said...

Yes, and I bet just normal stress (and the current economic conditions are far from normal) is also a "whole different thing than when you are younger."

Maybe the School Committee should have considered that before hiring them.

Anonymous said...

Well, the question is then why did they need an interim superintendent(s)? Why did they not just hire permanent replacements? Interim is like a substitute teacher. They sub for you but sure don't teach like the teacher. They mostly take roll and watch the spitballs fly.

Anonymous said...

"Catherine Sanderson made a good point saying the full-time staff had to step up anyway when the interim folks came in suddenly, so they will be able to handle things for the next few months."

Gotta ask, if this is true, why weren't they made acting something or other in September? I'm sure that the existing administrators would have done a much better job than the 2 Supers did for the past 5 months --- and at a much lower price tag. This is not rocket science.

LarryK4 said...

Unfortunately Catherine Sanderson is a "Force of One" (although it would be hard to physically confuse her with Chuck Norris) on the venerable Amherst School Committee AND the Regional School Committee.

Anonymous said...

You know, it is people with AIDS who don't recover quickly from pneomia once the antibiotics are administered. In fact, a questionare regarding high risk sexual practices is now protocol for doctors treating such cases.

At least in adults....

LarryK4 said...

Now, now. Let's not start unsubstantiated rumors--that is precisely what gives the blogesphere a bad name.

And you just know the crusty Gazette is a tad embarrassed about being one step behind (almost all of the time), so they would love to print that damn Internet produces nothing but unsubstantiated, slanderous/libelous (I can never keep those two strait) rumors.

And knowing my luck the not-so-super Supers will say that I drove them from office by stalking them or whatever what’s her name claimed. Hey, maybe the X-supers will retire to South Hadley (all our other castoffs seem to.)

Anonymous said...

See ya, scum bags. Now time to kick a couple of managing asses out of maint/transportation.

Anonymous said...

Libel is to print something that is not true. Truth is a defense to libel.

It *is* true that AIDS (along with other conditions) prevent one from responding to antibiotics, and it *is* true that inquiring about high risk sexual activities is one of the medical protocols for persons with pnenomia.

Now as to what one concludes from that, well....

Anonymous said...

Also notice how Bully stated that a physical exam may be a requirement for the next Supt of Schools?????

Now why would that be????

Anonymous said...

I just heard from a friend at the middle school that they have resigned. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of dumb ass malarky.

"Antibiotic resistance is a common cause of health care-associated pneumonia." --HealthDay News

Antibiotic resistance is growing for all kinds of bacterial infections including pneumonia and you don't need to spread all kinds of unlikely rumours just tosatissfy your blood lust for these people.

Anonymous said...

Why is there a need to be so mean spirited? Lets wish these two folks good health and godspeed and then get on with the business of addressing the future needs of the town.

Anonymous said...

quote from Anonymous: "I just heard from a friend at the middle school that they have resigned. Is this true?"

How did you miss Larry's post? (and all the related comments?)

Anonymous said...

Uh, maybe because that was asked at 3pm and Larry didn't post that it was "official" until 3:30.

Anonymous said...

any one see a pic within the pic? now the school committee gets to go to Florida and check his district? who pays for the trip?? if I had the choice of touring Miami-Dade, Hartford or Northampton in this wintery mess, damn straight I'd pick the guy from Florida! HA!