Left to rt: Superintendent Maria Geryk and Chair Rick Hood. Center (of the storm): Catherine Sanderson, (empty chair: Rob Spence), Irv Rhodes, Steve Rivkin 12/14
The dissident wing of the Regional School Committee (all three from Amherst of course) and the highly paid regional administrators--Superintendent, High School and Middle school principals--reenacted the Civil War clash of the ironclads: lots of cannon fire, but no real damage.
Unless of course you are student in the system or parent who subscribes to the theory "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."
The full committee--by not taking action--endorsed the concept of quiet time in a room with no actual teaching taking place, supposedly valuable simply because a certified teacher is acting as traffic cop.
According to the written opinion of attorney Regina Williams: a directed study can count toward time in learning so long as a teacher is present, and “where the teacher is available to assist students academically”.
The study may be held in “a classroom, computer lab, media center, etc.” However, it cannot cover a “large group of students with no clear educational focus who are housed in a cafeteria or auditorium where a teacher is present to monitor but is not interactive…”
As far as a I am aware, the last time the Department or the Commissioner issued any advisory on Time in Learning was in 1999 after the regulations’ amendments. The regulations have also included directed study as part of the “structured learning time” necessary to meet the 990 hour requirement."
But even with this lower setting of the bar (assuming it is indeed legal--and this attorney has been wrong before), the Amherst Schools just barely meet the minimum state requirement for time on learning. No real reason given as to why this seems to happen 'Only in Amherst', the Happy Valley's supposed flagship of public education.
Northampton and Hadley manage to get their teachers to actually instruct while in a room with students. And their average cost per student is--Hadley just under $11,000 and Northampton at $11,699--considerably lower than Amherst's $16,909 (state average including those upstart Charter Schools is $13,062.)
About 90% of the Amherst schools operating budget goes towards employee salaries and benefits. Hmm...