Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superintendent Super Sunday: It's Geryk by a nose.

UPDATE: 5:45 PM. Well I can let my headline stand (unlike the Chicago Tribune) as Union 26 did, finally, confirm Maria Geryk as permanent Superintendent--but with one major caveat: it's only for one year (until June 30, 2012) and the evaluation of her performance is due in January, 2012. Irv Rhodes (Chair Amherst School Committee) changed his vote to break the 3-3 deadlock.
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UPDATE: 4:15 PM okay, so like the Chicago Tribune in the famous Dewey/Truman Presidential race I was a tad too quick to hit the publish button with a Page One Headline. Union 26, made up of three Amherst School Committee members and the three Pelham school committee members, also had to approve the original vote to make any of the three candidates permanent Superintendent. That vote tied 3-3 with all the Amherst representative voting NO to Ms. Geryk by supporting Dr. John Bayless. We still have a horse race!

3:10 PM
UPDATE:

Acting School Superintendent Maria Geryk, the local lady (and as a result the inside candidate) who made good, received the narrow nod with 6 out of 10 votes from the Regional School Committee charged with hiring a new permanent School Superintendent for the venerable Amherst School system, which also includes Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury. Even though four out of five Amherst School Committee members voted against her. And Amherst makes up over 75% of the Region.
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Rick Hood, Amherst School Committee, Regional Chair but not a committee member to Union 26
1:03 PM
So while most of America in now comfortably curled up in front of the large screen flat panel watching all-to-far-in-advance coverage of the Super Bowl folks in Amherst are glued to cable access watching this School Committee meeting choosing the next School Superintendent for the Amherst Regional School system.

Discussion starts concerning the three candidates. Nobody seems to want to go first.
Rob Spence (Amherst School Committee): I favor by a slight margin Dr. Gerald Kohn and my second choice is Dr. John Bayless. Considering experience and background. I favor the strongest candidate with the best background. Either of them can move the schools forward. That's very important.


1: 15 PM Kristen Luschen: Doesn't seem to like Dr. Kohn (simply because he "turned around a district" as Amherst is not a district that needs turn around). Emails and calls were overwhelmingly in favor of Maria Geryk. She supports her "hands down."

Okay so now we have a tie. Eight to go.

1: 23 PM Kip Fronsh: All the candidates are good but there are profound differences. Attributes the "diversity" of womanhood to Maria Geryk (sounds like he's going to vote for her.)

It's been overwhelming the support for Maria Geryk. Her mother was a maid her father a mill worker. Twice she has stepped into the breech (to act as temporary Super). Conducted herself with class. Yep, he's voting for her.

1: 35PM
Catherine Sanderson jumps in to mention she's getting text messages about ACTV not airing this live. And I'm switching back occasionally to Comments to see that it is indeed the case. Let's hope they fix it soon.

Debbie Gould: Instantly dismisses Dr. Kahn. Sounds like she's voting for Maria Geryk. Dr. Bayless was okay, but he's from California which would increase his "learning curve" for how things are done here in Massachusetts. 85% of the feedback she received favored Maria Geryk. Okay I've heard enough to call her vote. We're now at 3 for Geryk and 1 for Bayless.

Steve Rivkin (Amherst School Committee): Cites the schools objection to transparency "troubling," especially when comparing how much we spend for education per child vs. Northampton. Mentions declining enrollment and attributes it to academic performance of the schools even though the student teacher ratio is pretty small.

Rodriguez came in but could not navigate threw our dense system. Cites hostility towards Catherine Sanderson for her championing of evaluation and results. Says either Dr. Kohn or Dr. Bayless could make an improvement in our system. Seems to favor Kohn (but acknowledges some risk in supporting him). Bayless seems less creative but very solid otherwise. Sounds like anybody but Maria Geryk.

1:50 PM Catherine Sanderson: Cites drop of 99 students in Elementary schools and 30 in kindergarten. Families are choosing not to attend our schools. I hear the "passion" folks have for Maria Geryk. I appreciate the work she's done but, I have real concerns about her being able to handle the problems we currently face. Have not seen a budget from her yet for elementary schools or the region. Have not seen a sense of "urgency" on her part. She was appointed 11 months ago as acting superintendent only by a very divided vote and she has not even tried to "reach out" to those on the School Committee who did not support her. She's way more comfortable in dealing with her "supporters".

I hoped I could vote for Dr. Kohn but it would require "too much of a leap of faith." I feel quite comfortable taking the leap of faith with Dr. Bayless. Score another one for Dr. Bayless.

2:05 PM

So far no surprises. The swing vote is going to come down to Rick Hood Regional Chair. And I bet he's going to go last. (Great for the ratings I guess)

2: 07 Ms. Weilerstein. I was disappointed that there were not more stronger candidates from Massachusetts. Striking how different individuals can have such polar differences in hearing the same presentation. This is a challenge. Immediately dismisses Dr. Kohn. Sounds like she likes Dr. Bayless but the fact that she's taking him up second means she's going to vote for Maria Geryk. That makes four votes for Geryk.

2:25 PM Nora Maroulis (Pelham School Committee). Geryk all the way. Now we're up to five. One more does it. Mr. Rhodes (Amherst School Committee) will go next.

2:30 PM Irv Rhodes: Appreciate all the feedback from citizens. In a popular election Maria Geryk would win by a landslide. I'm aware of that. Large majority wants to see her remain as Superintendent. Her performance at the interview was "astonishingly great". But then he uses the magic word "but". Sounds like he's not going to vote or her. As I said earlier, it will come down to Mr. Hood and if I had to guess he's going to put Maria Geryk over the top.
3:00 PM Yeah, Irv does talk a lot but he supports Bayless. Now it's up to Mr. Hood...

3:02 PM Dismisses Dr. Kohn instantly. Starts talking about Dr. Bayless second so that tells you where this is going. Describes some of Maria Geryk's weaknesses (math and special ed problems.) Cites her creation of an ombudsman for the schools. She has strong qualities. Do I want to work with her to address her weaknesses or just hire somebody else? I support Maria Geryk.

That's it folks.

140 comments:

Anonymous said...

Which channel? It isn't on 12, 15 or 17.

Anonymous said...

It's not streaming online. Someone call them. It need to be fixed.

Anonymous said...

ACTV, new branding or not, just plain sucks!

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Larry,
Is ACTV filming? I thought this was supposed to be in the town room so it could go live?

Anonymous said...

ACTV = useless

Anonymous said...

Not fixed at 1:36

Anonymous said...

They should have had it at the high school library. The school IT dept always streams it AND IT WORKS!
ACTV and town IT...USELESS!!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't attend and wanted to watch. Since the town room is all set up to show it live, how hard can it be?

Anonymous said...

ACTV has let us down again: using our money.

Anonymous said...

Inexcusable.

Anonymous said...

Larry, my brother, you are it, for coverage, so keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

Why is Catherine Sanderson taking text messages when she's supposed to be deliberating with her colleagues?
Inappropriate anyone?

Dr Benway said...

Good work Larry keeping us updated.
THANKS!

Anonymous said...

"Why is Catherine Sanderson taking text messages when she's supposed to be deliberating with her colleagues?"


Here's a cookie. Go away.

Anonymous said...

The Catherine haters are on patrol.

LarryK4 said...

Wireless in the Town Room comes and goes. But I'm on it.

Anonymous said...

Finally, its on-line. yay! Thanks for those who helped this happen.

Tom Porter said...

channel 15 - IT's ON!

Anonymous said...

meeting is now on Ch 15. Finally!

Anonymous said...

Not streaming online as of 1:56

Anonymous said...

Still nothing streaming online...

LarryK4 said...

I'm told they are working on it. ACTV board member sitting next to me at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Nada.

Anonymous said...

"As I said earlier, it will come down to Mr. Hood and if I had to guess he's going to put Maria Geryk over the top."


And the sick little village will ~exactly~ what it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Hood said he would be a rational businessman and would make sensible decisions.

My bet is that he's just another touchy feely pro-Maria moron.

Caren Rotello said...

Go Irv Rhodes!! Calling things as they are.

Anonymous said...

Agreed!


Love Irv!!!

Anonymous said...

Irv needs a time limit!

Anonymous said...

No live stream online.

LarryK4 said...

It's almost over.

Safe bet it's going to be Maria Geryk.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great coverage!

Anonymous said...

Remember what happened with Arod. It looked like it was going the other way and discussions, threat of failed search, changed votes this way then back and in the end he won.

Anonymous said...

Geryk?



LOL.



Fail.

Anonymous said...

Ahoyyyyy spineless Cap'n Rick does it again!

Anonymous said...

Larry, you left before the best part! What happens if the region and Union 26 aren't in agreement?

LarryK4 said...

Yeah good point. I find it hard to believe they would fail the search now. But stranger things have happened.

Anonymous said...

Note how infrequently the members mention "students" or "kids." "I...me..mine.."

Anonymous said...

Why didn't they come up with a job description and a rubric beforehand? Why did they bring in these three candidates in order to then slam them? If the search brought no one forward who met objective criteria than they should have started over. This self-centered, not-meeting-my needs cop-out makes it impossible for anyone to take the position.

Anonymous said...

Again...The kids... Why in the name of all that is smart, would they want to have a superintendent whose contract ends April 1st? That way the school committee can get a jump start with getting bogged down earlier knowing that a superintendent could come under the leadership of this splendid monitoring process. First year teachers at least get to finish the year. Genius. Talk about waiting to exhale...

Anonymous said...

Who cares how long the contract is? They can always be fired. Besides, who in their right mind could work for this mopey, self-indulgent lot for more than a year, anyway? All three candidates have probably already changed their home phone numbers to avoid a contract offer. It will take another yearlong search just to find where they've relocated.

Anonymous said...

Could u imagine being one of the other two candidates getting to view this via the internet?

FUBAR- typical Amherst

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Irv Rhodes for being a voice of reason and trying to move away from the stalemate. His idea of a short contract for Geryk makes a lot of sense, though I think it really should be for at least two years not one.
I really hope that this process doesn't result in a failed search (what a waste of time and $ if it did!).

Anonymous said...

Just to note, both Rob Spence and Steve Rivkin backed Kohn initially, I think Larry, you blogged otherwise. Maybe you knew something about the strategy in advance?

Anonymous said...

Whole process is a joke. No one was going to change their vote. I'm disappointed Irv put out that idea of a one-year contract. It just looks like everyone wanted to get the hell out of there rather than duke it out. It's total bullshit. We need to get out of the union with the hill towns. Period.

Anonymous said...

How about a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the Amherst School committee, who seem to prioritize representing 10-15% of the population? Fire them, and hire Maria!

Anonymous said...

MOST OUTRAGEOUS THING SAID TODAY:

"Amherst's vote for the override was a vote of support for Maria."

Kip Fonsch.

As someone who voted for the last override, I guess I will have to consider how my next override vote is going to be interpreted. Thanks, Kip.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Steve Rivkin to end his comments with "what a sad day this is". This from the guy who criticizes Geryk for not "reaching out" to dissenting opinions. Nice way to reach out yourself, Steve. And of course Rodriguez was treated differently in his first year. He was hired as the permanent super. It only makes sense that he would have a set of specific goals that he would be evaluated on. That's what they're talking about doing for Maria now.

Anonymous said...

outrageous! if they were going to make a short contract (given Amherst's recent history with Superintendents that is not such a bad idea), make it for at least 2 years starting immediately. (since we know she will be a permanent Supt in June, why wait?)

A 2 year contract would give Ms. Geryk a chance to create and perform like a Superintendent. This crazy compromise is insulting and sounds like an extension of her interim status! And then an evaluation half way through? This proposed contract makes it impossible for her to reach the standards the School Committee has set.

I did not support Ms. Geryk, but I cannot support this proposal.

Anonymous said...

Sorry ass bunch of arrogant egos CS, SR, RS, you just cost us $60+ thousand dollars for a national search. You said that it was necessary to spend this $$ to bring forward the best candidates and that you believed in the process. Well, it did and your community responded and you failed. If she refuses the 1 yr contract, (which is a complete insult and I hope she does) will Bayless take it knowing a LARGE contingent of the community wanted someone else? NO! He has refused other positions he was offered out right. Way to go in your self centered agenda that leaves the community begging for voting day.

Anonymous said...

If the school committee tries to do a search next spring, NO ONE will apply knowing what the school committee just did. Very very disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree w/6:15. Where are we now? No better than 3/10.

Anonymous said...

Well people, wake the f#$k up. An election is coming up, you know what to do. THROW THE BUMS OUT!!

Anonymous said...

And ... Ms. Sanderson has already taken to her blog to say that while her first choice candidate didn't get the job, she gives Maria Geryk her 100% support and wishes her all the best.

Sorry. That's in the alternate universe. The one where Catherine Sanderson acts like a reasonable, mature, professional. She actually took to her blog to continue to make the case for why Geryk shouldn't have been hired and Bayless should have been. Unfreakinbelievable.

The School Committee is an embarrassment of unprofessional, juvenile and petty behavior, led by Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin. Can't wait to vote them out.

Anonymous said...

Mission accomplished: a school system of, by, and for the employees.

Anonymous said...

Mediocre schools get a mediocre leader.


And every year things get worse in Amherst.


Seems about right.

Anonymous said...

Now that the schools are effectively insulated from citizen criticism............................LET THE 2013 OVERRIDE CAMPAIGN BEGIN!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Home, home in our schools,
Where the teachers and the administrators play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Step aside, Stephanie O'Keeffe. Maria Geryk is the best politician in town.

Anonymous said...

See where sleeping with the boss gets you?

Anonymous said...

Pigs love shit.

Taylor said...

Whether you support Maria or not, do you realize that this makes Amherst continue to look like a bunch of world class morons? For a group of supposedly highly educated group of people, this particular committee is coming off as group is coming off as a group of incompetent Keystone Cops. You spend 60k on a national search, then hire the local candidate and offer her a 1 year deal. Think of the possibilities Maria might say no and due to this complete non-sensical process Bayless will have no interest in moving across country to work for this group of mental midgets, or Maria takes the job and is then relieved of her duties after one year and we spend 70k for another national search that will yield no one because no one will want to work for the Fools Committee, or my favorite Maria gets a 3 year deal at the conclusion of the 1 year deal, because the committee without a clue knows they would like fools to reopen for the 3rd time in 3 years. Oh, what a mess and what a bunch of incompetent donkeys we have elected.

Taylor said...

One other point, while I think Sanderson and Rivkin have at times offered some reasonable alternative views, their handling of this process has pretty much signed their death warrant at the polls. Sanderson has replaced Larry Shaffer as the most polarizing figure in Amherst and is now the least popular town official. Maria, for better or worse enjoys immense public support. That vote will turn out and vote Sanderson out. Rivkin is pretty much thought of as an aloof,out of touch elitist. He's toast too, which will further shift the balance of power on the Fools Committee.

Anonymous said...

Fucking Rick Hood.


EOM

Anonymous said...

8:01 Rick Hood had the integrity to stand up for what he believed was the right choice. Clearly it wasn't easy. He was visibly on edge. FU for your pathetic post. When's that last time you put your self out there to server the community a*%hole?

Anonymous said...

She's sleeping with Catherine Sanderson?

Anonymous said...

Rick Hood represents the ~ideal~ male in Amherst...


Dickless.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 7:53, don't leave us hanging here, WHO is Maria Geryk sleeping with?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Watch that Rick Hood endorsement of Maria Geryk one more time. There is no better definition of "damning with faint praise" than this.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Amherst Center. Looks like you've given Mr. Hood a fresh case of PTSD.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! All you idiots that spent weeks dissing Geryk, and acting like she had no support. Time to come out of your fantasy bubble. The real world's calling.

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase Alvy Singer from the movie "Annie Hall", a school system is "like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hand is a dead shark."

Anonymous said...

Notice to potential home buyers in Amherst:
The schools are great.
The schools are great.
The schools are great.

Notice to future override voters in Amherst:
The schools are great.
The schools are great.
The schools are great.

Repeat after me and keep repeating until the belief sets in.

Anonymous said...

Inmates, the asylum is yours.

Anonymous said...

"Ha! Ha! All you idiots that spent weeks dissing Geryk, and acting like she had no support. Time to come out of your fantasy bubble. The real world's calling."


You think this is over, fool???


You aint seen nothing yet...

Anonymous said...

Anybody got the over/under on the Geryk administration???

I propose 20 years. Where else is she going to go?

Anonymous said...

Hire her then promptly fire her for the 96,000 she stole from tax-payers.


Done.

Anonymous said...

Who here thinks M.G. has zero skeletons in her closet?


You?


How bout you?

Anonymous said...

hey man, who got the job?

ANW said...

So why did SR and RS want Kohn? I couldn't get the meeting on TV and didn't hear about their support.

Ed said...

I wanted to post this on Catherine Sanderson's blog, in response to a Team Maria clone, but don't have an account:

it is not the job of the superintendent to bring the SC together.

Actually, it is. It is one of the primary jobs of the Superintendent -- to be the public face of the schools and to get all the different constitutiences working together toward a shared goal. We ask it of college presidents and university chancellors and how is this any different?

It is the job of the SC to work togeher.

No it isn't. It is the job of the individual members to represent their individual towns. Would you have wanted Kennedy, Kerry & Oliver voting with GW Bush so that there was harmony in Washington??? We had a Republican Governor for 16 years - would you have wanted Stan & Ellen voting with Romney to promote harmony???

Think about that before you state that an elected representative should ignore the interests of his/her/its constituents to blindly pursue harmony at all costs. Neville Chamberlin, anyone?

It is not Maria Geryk's job to force you to play nice.

It is the job of a leader to LEAD and may I suggest reading what Machavelli wrote about the leader's need to have a vanquished people love the leader, even at the expense of the leader not being able to do everything he might wish to?

Maria Geryk has the second best people skills I have ever seen -- only Billy Bulger is better and I am not just talking local folk but about 30 members of Congress whom I have met. She has these skills and is really good at it -- and she can either choose to use this gift to unify the district or not, and I hope she decides to do it.

The most powerful leader is the one whom everyone loves -- GW Bush and BH Obama both made that mistake. I hope that Maria G does not...

Anonymous said...

when do we find out if Maria Geryk accepts a one year contract?

Ed said...

I saw Maria Geryk at the Wildwood meeting and I was truly impressed by her people skills -- and I say this as one who likely has personally met the next POTUS.

I was impressed with her ability to involve everyone in the room. She didn't mention any specifics -- she was all jargon and slogans and even when I pressed her for specifics, she didn't have any.

So she has a year to prove herself, or not. She can give us some specifics - or not. She can institute specific programs and do specific *things* -- or not.

Above all else, she has a year to use her excellent people skills to unify the players and to address the concerns of Catherine, Steve (and Larry) -- or not.

The wisest thing she could do right now would be to endorse Catherine Sanderson for re-election, ask her supporters to vote for her, and to pick 3-4 of Sanderson's issues for her own agenda. This is leadership, and I am not expecting to see it, but one can hope...

Otherwise -- well I am still waiting for the eventual fallout from the PPrince trials...

Anonymous said...

So, Catherine Sanderson is not allowing anonymous posts on her blog any more. Seems after yesterday's School Committee meeting the sentiment on her blog was almost universally against her and Steve Rivkin. She did not want to post any more comments attacking the two of them so no more anonymous posts on her blog.

This after nearly three years of constant anonymous posters slamming teachers, administration, Maria Geryk, other school committee members, community members etc etc etc. I guess anonymous attacks are ok as long as they are not against Catherine and Steve. So, how does it feel, Catherine, to be so universally slammed? Now do you have some sympathy for the others that you have allowed to be attacked endlessly? Now do you see why there is no constructive debate or dialogue on your blog any more? Now do you see why you will be voted out of office by a VERY WIDE margin in just 7 short weeks? You can dish it out until the cows come home, and allow others to do the same...but you can't take it when you are rightly criticized.

After Maria is voted in as Supeintendent you post an almost 1800 word piece on why Bayless was your guy. After Maria is voted in Steve calls it a sad day for our community. And Maria is the problem? Maria is not reaching out to the two of you and that is the problem??? Maria is appointed Superintendent and the two of you continue to push against her. Reaching out is a 2-way street.

I voted for you, Catherine, when you ran the first time. I will not make that mistake again.

Anonymous said...

Time for Sanderson to support the choice of the majority of the committee not rail against it. How would she feel if her choice had prevailed but people kept trying to undermine it?

Anonymous said...

ed at 10:2 pm:

You miss the point and your analogy does not hold. The school superintendent is NOT the leader of the school committee. The school committee works for the citizens who voted them in. The superintendent works FOR the school committee who picked him or her.

It is emphatically NOT the job of the superintendent to make sure that the members of the SC act like civilized adults. It is NOT the job of the superintendent to beg the members of the SC to live her even when at every juncture they fling arrows of hate and distrust at her, even right after hiring her. See Sanderson's post hiring blog post and Rivkin's "sad day" comment.

Anonymous said...

Ed said:

"No it isn't. It is the job of the individual members to represent their individual towns."

And in the face of 85% of the community saying they supported Maria Geryk as Superintendent, Steve, Catherine, Rob and Irv continued to say they would not support Maria Geryk. So, quite clearly, they have not gotten the message that they were elected to represent the interests of their town. Thankfully, Irv came up with a good compromise and Maria was offered a one year contract. Now we just need to see if she will take it.

Steve, Catherine and their clone, Rob, continue to embarrass the Town of Amherst and will be voted out of office when they stand for re-election, Catherine this year, Steve next year and Rob the year after that. Imagine, Steve and Rob supported Kohn on the first round of voting - a candidate who advocated shunning children and teachers. Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

6:19 What the heck are you talking about?!?!?

Catherine Sanderson DOES still allow anonymous posting on her blog. Just go look. It's specificaly explained on the front page.

Anonymous said...

Read further. Sanderson turned off anonymous posting last night after too many people posted things about her that she didn't like.

She didn't correct the home page nor did she fix any of the typos in her post about the hiring of Maria Geryk (like the fact that she'll be evaluated on January 1, 2010).

Anonymous said...

For all the people distressed by Catherine posting her prepared statement on her blog after meeting:

Please consider the possibility that it was not intended as a slam of the new superintendent, but was just meant to inform people like me who were not able to carve out 2+ hours of uninterrupted time on a Sunday to watch every minute of the meeting. (Somehow my 2 elementary school age kids were not persuaded by "go play by yourselves so Mommy can watch the school committee meeting").

I believe she posted it in an attempt to have some people understand the rationale for her vote. If people spend as much time reading the words as they do counting them, they may see some legitimate concerns.

I voted for her last time and will vote for her again.

I also voted yes on the past 2 override ballots. Don't count on me for the next one. It looks like I may be having to save up for private school.

Anonymous said...

Let's not glorify Irv Rhodes' ridiculous "compromise" which only serves to undermine Geryk if she chooses to accept this insulting contract offer. The fact that this would be viewed as acceptable shows how little (and poor) management (or real world) experience these SC members have.

Couldn't we have offered her a 2.5 year contract, to start immediately, with an evaluation 18 months in?

The only way to understand the School Committee is to see that they are really just a bunch of self-important know it alls. Amherst's kids deserve better than these clowns.

This does not bode well for the upcoming teacher contracts. And no, I am not employed by the schools. But I am one of its funders.

Abbie said...

My thanks to the Amherst school committee. I saw it as a very difficult decision, I don't know how I'd have voted and happy not to have had that responsibility.

I now wish Ms Geryk the best in her efforts to improve our schools. I think the one year contract is a reasonable compromise. Those that disagree, either discount the major issues raised by ALL the Amherst School committee members about Ms. Geryk's performance as interim or they just don't care. I hope that Ms. Geryk takes those comments seriously because they meant something important. Many of the weaknesses raised were related to the management of the elementary schools (that non-Amherst regional committees would not be a part of). Some issues raised were lack of transparency, forthrightness, and the need to address difficult issues (and not hide or ignore them).

I hope Ms Geryk accepts the one year contract, learns and acts on the criticisms offered and leads us to greater achievement for all our students.

I continue to be disappointed by anonymous posters, you lack integrity and are a poor example to kids in our community. You should be ashamed and how can you look at yourselves in the mirror is a mystery to me.

To anon@940: why would we want to evaluate after 18 months? This would be twice as long as that given to other Superintendents? Our last SI was evaluated after about 8 months.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:27 a.m. - my take on Catherine Sanderson posting pre-prepared statement on her blog was the same as yours. She wanted to explain the reasoning behind her vote, and be on the record for making the choice she did. I did ask my kids to play for themselves for a while during the meeting, but no kids are good on their own for the 4+ hours that the meeting took.

I realize that Catherine and all the committee members were no doubt exhausted by the end of the long meeting. However, it would have been nice for her to show a little bit of support for the final outcome. I hope now that she has had the chance to recover from yesterday and reflect, she will make sure an overture today. Reaching out is not a one-way street.

Anonymous said...

Better yet, 9:40 a.m., offer her a three-year contract, set clear guidelines and expectations and include a mandatory mid-contract review. Or mandatory yearly reviews. You know, like at normal jobs.

Maybe the problem here is that we have pampered tenured professors (Steve and Catherine) running the show and they're not used to normal employment practices or being accountable to anyone.

But then that would be waaaay too logical and sane for our town's school committee. I'm also not an employee, but like, you I am a funder and a future customer of its product.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of how I feel about any of the candidates, if I was Ms. Geryk I'd take the lousy one-year offer and immediately start looking for another job. Who in their right mind would want to work for such an unstable body. It's pretty apparent that the school committee is going to hound her like a hawk and find fault whether fault exists or not. Can't wait for the next $70,000 search and a new override on the ballot. Then I can legitimately say "outta here."

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me if a 3-year term for elected school committee members is "typical"?

Anonymous said...

The Amherst School Committee is an embarassement.

Anonymous said...

10:09 - YES! annual performance reviews! what a concept.Give the woman a multi-year contract so she can actually have an opportunity to show us her "vision" and demonstrate whether or not she's got the stuff to get there.

This contract is a trap.

Anonymous said...

For everyone who talks about Catherine Sanderson and Steve Rivkin as if they are twins joined at the hip, I really see them as being quite different. Yes, they are both Amherst College professors, and yes, they have both been critical of the schools. However, Catherine gives so much more of herself and works so hard on behalf of the school committee and to improve education in Amherst. She is critical of the schools at times, but much more conciliatory than I have ever seen Steve be. At a number of SC meetings, and yesterday's was no exception, both of Maria Geryk and of fellow SC members. I find him by far the most negative member of the SC and don't think that level of negativity is productively. I wish that he was up for re-election this spring instead of Catherine so that I could vote against him with all my heart. I think Catherine has so much more she can offer the schools and the community during another term on the SC, and I sincerely hope that the next few months are not the end of her SC tenure.

Anonymous said...

rivkin should step down, his arrogant and rude behavior has increased recently to a concerning and unacceptable level

Anonymous said...

This is the school committee that was appalled when one of their own suggested we simply appoint the interim and not pay for a search. Now, $60,000.00 later the losers' whining begins.

Now that the candidate some of them didn't want won, they are whining about Pelham and Union 26.

I thought this was a process that all agreed was legitimate. Very immature on the part of some of the SC.

Is it now when Rivkin says, "Oh yeah, well then I'm taking my ball and going home!"

So, go home already.

Anonymous said...

10:51, Catherine may have some good ideas but these ideas are hard to see because her abrasive and divisive personality overpowers everything. The fact that she may seem more conciliatory than Steve isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
She did not want to post any more comments attacking the two of them so no more anonymous posts on her blog.


Did I miss the passage of a law that only she was able to have a blog? Start your own damn blog or STFU!

After Maria is voted in as Supeintendent you post an almost 1800 word piece on why Bayless was your guy.

I wish every politician would have the courage to stand by their convictions and let all see what they said.

Ed said...

And in the face of 85% of the community saying they supported Maria Geryk as Superintendent

Cite your source, damn it!

I really doubt that 85% of Amherst would even agree that there is snow on the ground -- and the statistically-valid, variance-free representative sample of the population was obtained exactly how?

Anonymous said...

10:51 completely agree

Anonymous said...

I don't agree at all with Cathy's actions. I don't like her divisive approach to governance and I find her lack of willingness to move on after the selection of Geryk disappointing at best.

However, equally disappointing is the hostile tone in which some people have addressed her on this blog. Name calling just makes the name caller look bad and does nothing to serve the greater good of improving public education in Amherst.

What ever happened to modeling civil behavior and taking the high road?

While I give Amy Wasserman and others credit for using their real names, I would like urge everyone to take a deep breath and act like adults.

Anonymous said...

"10:09 - YES! annual performance reviews! what a concept.Give the woman a multi-year contract so she can actually have an opportunity to show us her "vision" and demonstrate whether or not she's got the stuff to get there."


Are you fucking kidding me???


What do you think is going on here, some kind of experiment???


GTFO.

Anonymous said...

It boils down to this:


If you're pro Geryk, you're pro corruption.


If you're pro Geryk, you're pro mediocrity.


If you're pro Geryk, you're pro conflict.


if you're pro Geryk, you're pro higher taxes.


End of story.

Anonymous said...

I was against appointing Geryk (the other candidates were so much more experienced, an outside perspective is almost always good, etc.) until I watched the meeting yesterday and came away with the impression that Geryk is being blamed for not meeting goals that were never articulated. Most of yesterday's discussion was about the school committee members (she did not meet my needs, she didn't ask me out to coffee, etc.), not about the schools and the students. What's more, if the 3 finalists were as awful as various members made them out to be yesterday (and maybe they were--I don't know), the search never should have progressed to the voting stage--it should have been abandoned when the search committee failed to find 3 qualified candidates. By the time you have finalists, the discussion shouldn't be so subjective. It should instead be about who among them best fits a clearly articulated profile--who would do the best job of making a budget, for example, of reviewing the math curriculum, etc., etc. We need someone on that committee who knows how to conduct a job search.

Anonymous said...

Abbie,

Geryk has not had the chance to be evaluated because:
1) She was an interim, not permanent super
2) The SC did not set performance goals for her

Neither of those things were true for our last super.
That circumstance will change now that Maria actually has a contract (assuming she accepts it), which is great.

Though I hate the one year contract it does seem like the best "compromise" to come out of yesterday's divided vote. It gives a real chance for Maria to be given benchmarks to be worked towards in areas where SC members found her lacking while at the same time enabling her positive initiatives to continue. Not to mention that the wishes of the vast majority of the community who weighed in have a chance to be validated.

Abbie said...

anon@114

yes, I am aware that she hasn't been evaluated because she is an interim SI. I am still confused (if you are anon@940) why an evaluation at 18 months? If she accepts the contract, she would be on the same schedule as Rodriguez and we should expect an evaluation next March (12 months from now). I just was questioning the 18 months proposal. Simply a procedural question...

Anonymous said...

anonymous@12:22 PM, you make excellent points. So Steve and Catherine were mad because Maria didn't ask them out for coffee. But if she had, w have been accused of courting favor with the School Committee? Obviously none of the other candidates had the opportunity to go on play dates with the SC members. Maria was smart to stay away while she was a candidate for the permanent job and she was punished for that.

It's the old damned if you, damned if you don't scenario.

Anonymous said...

Steve and Catherine need to go. The School Committee needs to offer Maria a 3 year contract, with annual reviews.

Steve and Catherine are an embarrasment to the community.

The 1 year contract to Maria is an insult to her.

If only we had a recall provision in our town. We could vote out both Steve and Catherine right now. For Catherine we only have to put with her for 7 more weeks. Alack and alas, we have a much longer wait til we can be rid of Steve.

Anonymous said...

Abbie,
Anon 1:14 here. Sorry, I wasn't referencing the 18 month evaluation comment and disagree with it. She should be treated like any permanent super. The January 1st date is earlier than that provided Rodriguez, but I'd be OK with it given that there is a track record of performance and already identified points of weakness that the SC would like addressed. The process of addressing them should begin now, as far as I'm concerned. I agree with Rick Hood's statement that this doesn't represent an end, but a beginning. I hope everyone, including those on the Amherst SC that really would have preferred a different outcome, can make it a FRESH start. Steve's comment about "this being a sad day for the community" worried me on that front. Regardless of what some commenters have said about whose responsibility it is to reach out to whom in order to bridge differences, I really believe that it HAS to be a two way street to be at all legitimate and, ultimately, successful. Crossing my fingers for the good of the kids, which should after all be what this is all about.

Anonymous said...

Catherine's blog is posting links to a Tues Daily Hampshire Gazette article and an updated Masslive article about yesterday's school committee discussion and the superintendent negotations.

Both articles make reference to the fact that Catherine has not yet decided whether she will in fact run for school committee because she is not sure if she feels comfortable keeping her children in the public schools for another three years, and wouldn't want to serve on the school committee if she is not planning to do so.

I find it very hard to believe that had either Kohn or Bayless had majority support for the superintendency yesterday that she would be taking this stand. Thus, it seems her position now is directly related to the committee's majority support for Maria Geryk. I was one of the anon. posters who earlier wrote that everyone needs to try to get along and that reaching out to others is a two-way street, and I understand that Catherine needs to do what she thinks will be best for her children. However, even to me, who has been planning to vote for her in the upcoming election, this comes across as a big vote of no-confidence in Geryk and which does not move the community and committee forward towards better collaboration and less hostility.

LarryK4 said...

And if she does not file her nomination papers tomorrow by 5:00 PM to continue fighting the good fight, the impetus for change, accountability and transparency is snuffed out for a long, long time.

That truly will be a very sad day indeed.

Anonymous said...

Catherine already announced publicly a few weeks ago that she was running for SC. Did she not actually file papers at that time? (I guess probably not!) or is she contemplating withdrawing her filed papers?

Anonymous said...

Catherine took out nomination papers to run for SC but she has not filed them yet. She has until 5pm tomorrow, February 8th, to file papers and appear on the ballot.

Anonymous said...

Hey Abbie.....can't take anything you say seriously about the quality of teaching in Amherst when I read this

http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=346040

Looks like someone should take some teacher training classes.

Anonymous said...

Separate from her disappointment in yesterday's committee decision she is probably reading the tea leaves in the huge community support for Geryk and questioning the viability of her candidacy to begin with. I wouldn't blame her for not putting herself or her family through what is likely to be a futile fight, particularly of the bitter nature that it is likely to be if any of the comments above are an indication. I do wonder though, about the sincerity of her comments related to putting her support behind whomever is hired. Talk of pulling her three children from the schools just a day removed from the hiring decision certainly doesn't have the remotest ring of support to me.

Anonymous said...

Irv Rhodes in the Gazette: "I really don't have confidence in you but I'm giving you an opportunity to win my confidence,"

Why on earth did he vote for someone he feels this way about? And saying after the fact that this is how he really feels is inappropriate, unprofessional and immature.

idiot said...

Name calling just makes the name caller look bad


leg licker

Anonymous said...

After shutting off anonymous comments on her blog, Catherine Sanderson posted this:
"If anyone wants to share private thoughts with me, please send them to my private email:
casanderson@amherst.edu"

This is an email address issued to her as an employee of Amherst College. It is not a private email.

Note the policy of the College for use of such email addresses:

"Use of an account in ways that are not consistent with the main purposes of the College, or that interfere with the work of other members of the College community, may be revoked, following the usual disciplinary processes of the College for students, faculty, and staff."

Surely using her account to conduct town political business and to argue and defend her school committee positions with constituents is not "consistent with the main purposes of the work of the College." Surely if she uses her email address to argue her points about her choice for superintendent with other members of the Amherst College community or the public at large, this "interferes with the work of other members of the College community."

https://www.amherst.edu/offices/it/about/policies/eligibility

The town of Amherst issues email addresses to all SC members specifically so they do not have to use their personal or business email address to conduct SC business. Why is Sanderson using an Amherst College email address to conduct School Committee business? This looks like both a possible ethics violation and an obvious violation of the rules put in place by her employer for use of her email address.

LarryK4 said...

Methinks thou doth protest W-A-Y too much. Cowardly Anon Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

7:19,
if someone emails her SC account it becomes public domain doesn't it? She's trying to give them a private way to contact her.
And don't you think her AC email is up to them to worry about? I have lots of friends who work there and other colleges, they all use them.

Anonymous said...

So Sanderson is taking her kids and running?

Good.

Don't let the door hit your fat ass too hard.

Bye now.

Don't come back!

Anonymous said...

Larry,
It's your blog; you can turn off anon comments anytime you want. Let's see who is left to comment. If you want people to use their real names, calling them "nitwits" may not be the way to go about it.

7:19,
If she wanted to give someone a private way to contact her, she could open up a gmail account or a yahoo account. She doesn't have to use her employer's email service in probable violation of the terms of service.

Also just because other people do it (I doubt lots of people at AC use their email in their work as elected officials to conduct business with constituents) doesn't make it right. Is it the job of AC job to police it? Sure. Are you saying everyone else should just turn a blind eye when there is a potential ethics violation and when an elected official is possibly violating the rules of her employer?

LarryK4 said...

Last I looked Amherst College was in the business of EDUCATION.

Nitwit.

Anonymous said...

She's taking her kids and sending them to private school exposing herself as just another hypocritical white liberal poseur who talks a good game about improving education for all.

LarryK4 said...

She's probably tired of dealing with Cowardly Anon Nitwits like you. I know I am.

Anonymous said...

She was NEVER interested in improving education for ALL. It was always about her own kids. It was about doing away with IMP because she does not believe in reform math, it was about getting rid of Environmental Science in the 9th grade because that might somehow jeopardize her kids chances of getting into Harvard or MIT, it was about adding AP Chem and Statistics because she has the mistaken idea that her kids can't get into Harvard or Yale or MIT w/o those classes on their transcripts.

It has always been about her kids and getting her way and never about improving education for all. She does not care about social justice issues or the achievement gap or anything that does not improve her kids chances of getting into an Ivy League school...though many kids currently and in the past have gotten into Ivy League schools going through the Amherst School system in its current incarnation. If she decides to not run for re-election Ms. Sanderson will not be missed.

LarryK4 said...

Certainly not by folks like you.

Unfortunately the sane, Silent Majority will miss her more than they could ever know (or deserve).

Vincent said...

It would seem to me that one of the key prerequisites of social justice is respecting the beliefs and opinions of others. I find it ironic that so many who espouse the words "social justice" fail to live by these tenets. I am personally ashamed to see the bullying behavior exhibited by many of the posters. While you may disagree with the opinions expressed by Sanderson and others in the community, that does not give you the right nor the excuse to question either their motives or their ethics.

LarryK4 said...

Especially when perpetrated under the cowardly cloak of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

That's right Vincent, that's right.


It also doesn't give anyone the right to question the motivation(s) of those supporting a criminal who by her (and their) ACTIONS has not only shown contempt for parents, her bosses and the working class tax payers of the town she works for, but who has also STOLEN $96,000 (at least) in hard earned tax dollars (for some their FOOD dollars!!) AND countless other hundreds of thousands in salary dollars as the puppet head of a conspiracy that rewarded her a new job (interim to full time) and a HUGE pay increase by planning with her and executing a political dirty trick, BOLDLY silencing the will of the majority of Amherst tax-payers who simply want a voice in a process they had a RIGHT to be a part of!


"Vincent"??????????????????


You GOD DAMN betcha.


It aint over...

Celeste Palladino said...

Larry-
Why are you dismissing everyone's comments by calling them a nitwit? People have varying reasons for posting anonymously-some prefer not to have all of their opinions show up as the result of a quick google search of their name. I am trying hard as I get older to avoid a knee-jerk rejection of beliefs other than those I espouse to- and respecting the person holding the beliefs is the first step. Do you feel comfortable teaching your children to shrug off differing opinions with name-calling?

Anonymous said...

it's official (on Catherine's blog): she is not running for SC.

LarryK4 said...

Yes Celeste, why don't you ask Amy Wasserman a few months or years from now how she feels when normal folks Google search her name.

Celeste Palladino said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Celeste Palladino said...

Just wanted to add I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate a different perspective on local events and issues. Just don't want to be called a nitwit ;)

LarryK4 said...

Hey Celeste,
I can honestly say in the almost four years of this blog with over 1,400 posts and God only knows how many total Comments/responses contained within those posts, I have never called an actual person who has the integrity to leave their name a "nitwit".

Unlike Bill O'Reilly, who calls people "pinhead" all the time.