The worst state report card in seven years for Amherst Elementary Schools
Not sure what Amherst Regional School Committee members were looking at in a dispassionate way (it's hard not to be passionate about a personable lady) when they came up with such a saintly review of Maria Geryk's first year as superintendent without "interim" in front of it.
At $16,413 vs state average of $13,055, Amherst elementary schools have the highest average cost per student in the Valley , a student/teacher ratio of 10 to 1 when the state average is 13.9 to 1.
And with Amherst average teacher salaries at $66,000 that enviably low student teacher ratio adds up. Now throw in the 21 administrators (Elementary and Region) making over $85,000; which is why our average cost per child for "administration" is a whopping $698 vs state average of $446.
But we get less than whopping results--especially with low income and minority children, who failed to reach proficiency at a higher rate than state average. Our Special Education results are certainly not special, with 82% failing to reach proficiency vs state average of 70%. Particularly disconcerting since Maria Geryk came from a special ed background.
A background that does not, however, include a doctorate...in a town where coffee baristas have one.
Even though Regional School Committee member Debbie Gould's husband is employed by the Regional Schools she penned the only part of the evaluation made public. No direct conflict of interest I suppose, but a little open disclosure would have been nice.
Like when Dr. Rebecca Woodland from the UMass School of Education (where Ms. Geryk attended) appeared before the School Committee 9/22/10 to sing the praise of Maria, she could have mentioned the no-bid $96,000 teacher training contract Ms. Geryk gave her that very week.
According to School Committee minutes: "Rebecca Woodland, parent and UMass education professor, stated that she believes it is unwarranted and unwise to go forward with a Superintendent search and doing so would amount to a vote of no confidence in Ms. Geryk. She noted that she has worked with Superintendents across the state and Ms. Geryk has accomplished more in her seven months on the job than most new superintendents accomplish in three to five years."
And considering our lack of Adequate Yearly Progress this past year, Dr. Woodland's expensive services do not seem to have resulted in better teaching.
Such a glowing review after one year as "interim superintendent" and now a full year as real deal superintendent does not give Ms. Geryk much incentive to do anything differently. Maybe the schools do not require an entire 12 step rehab program, but they could unquestionably benefit by the first step: Admit there's a problem!