Friday, May 25, 2012

Wasted Legal Expenses

Amherst Regional High School

One of the main reasons cited by the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee for hitting the snooze button on deciding later start times for Amherst regional secondary schools was the impact on the already fragile condition of school athletics--underscored by no longer sustainable annual subsidies of $50,000.

Yet this same diffident committee has looked the other way after deciding 18 months ago to fire attorney Giny Tate from "Special Education" matters for the school system. However they allow Tate (or more specifically allow Superintendent Maria Geryk to allow her) to continue litigating an expensive case or two when the other legal provider (Dupere & Dupere) could have handled them for no extra charge.

If Murphy Hesse Toomey & Lehane (Tate's firm) really were all that good, then why does Amherst (according to the state DOE website) spend twice the state average for "legal settlements"?

And this additional superfluous legal expense has already exceeded $42,000 for the first three quarters of the current fiscal year.

Tennis anyone?

FY12 Legal $ Amherst Region


Anonymous said...

"--underscored by no longer sustainable annual subsidies of $50,000."

I don't get it. Study after study shows an alarming growth in childhood obesity. The Diabetes rate in children is skyrocketing. The antidote for this is sports. The total number of kids participating in these sports is a big percentage of the school population. The sports programs should not be beggers looking for a hand out. They are necessary and essential and should be adequately funded.

Anonymous said...

ARHS cut PE beyond one trimester in Freshman year. Students have to pay to participate in any sports or physical activity. I agree, it's sickening.

Let's not even go into the "food" they serve at lunch.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a state law that high school students had to have PE every year.

Anonymous said...

Deciding what to cut in dire economic times is always a difficult decision. The school administration has a budget that it must work within. They decided that PE to some extent was more easily cut than other subjects.

I don’t envy anyone’s position that has to make cuts to a program. However, I do believe that physical fitness is important to learning. A healthy body helps to create a healthy mind.

Personally, I strongly advocate the school committee or someone take a harder look at the Central Office budget. It is exorbitantly high. A small number of people working there are making big dollars. Compare their budget for that few people with other aspects of the district budget and see how far other parts of the district stretch their money compared to Central Office. But is has been that way for decades.

The problem is that the people in Central Office are not going to cut their own jobs.

So before you go on the attack at the HS administration, think about all of the budget cuts of the past 6-8 years. Research the percentage of cuts the HS had to make to its overall budget and then look at the percentage that Central Office made.

How many chiefs does one school district need? Do we need to pay the human resources director over $100, 000.00?

Anonymous said...

The comments seem to miss the post's point: the superintendent is literally wasting significant and scarce funds by paying for a lawyer despite the fact that the district has a lawyer under contract.

No one should ever mention tight budgets when they allow this sort of waste.

Again, the facts are that the district pays a retainer to a law firm and that firm in return covers all the legal business of the district.

But, Maria is rewarding the old firm by paying them to litigate matters the district could litigate for no additional money under the terms of the retainer.

Why does the SC allow this to happen?

Oh, right, in Amherst "School Committee" is French for "Rubber Stamp."

Anonymous said...

Yet ARHS retained quite an intense chorus and drama program - one which, for the most part, is limited to those gifted few.

Priorities, people. Priorities.

A limited number of students participate in chorus and drama. All student could greatly benefit from physical education and teamwork skills.

I'm not advocating cuts. But if they're going to be made, cut the programs for which few students even qualify.

just wondering said...

It appears that neither the author of this post nor any commenters know why the old firm/Ms. Tate is being allowed to litigate "a case or two"... just that they believe it is not worth the money. Is it possible there is a good reason?

LarryK said...

No, actually there's not a GOOD reason. But if you click the link in the second paragraph you can read the reason.

Anonymous said...

There is a VERY good reason why Ms. Tate's firm is still handling a few cases. But no one here is interested in that reason. It's been outlined here on this blog several times and yet Larry keeps ignoring the reason and bringing it up again and again.

Also, the schools beefed up their music, dance and drama programs to try to stem the tide of students moving to Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember who proposed firing the Tate firm in the first place?

Anonymous said...

It was not a good idea to fire the Tate firm.

Anonymous said...

So glad we yanked our kids out of the public schools. They are becomming more and more a school system for the special needs kids. Hey Amherst, go for it!!!

Anonymous said...

right... because the public schools shouldn't be for "special needs" kids. is that what you mean?

i know all sorts of s**t said...

the firing of the tate firm was initiated around the same time (soon after) that steve and catherine declared WAR against the arps administration and maria geryk specifically. ("You tell Maria this is WAR! YOU MAKE SURE YOU TELL HER THAT!") it was one of their campaign tactics.

steve rivkin and catherine sanderson tried to get geryk to do something they wanted, i forget what exactly at this point. they attempted to intimidate her by having someone communicate to her (they didn't seem to prefer telling her these things themselves, to her face) that they would "go after" ginny tate if she (geryk) didn't do what they wanted. geryk refused to let them dictate to her how she should do her job, what decisions she should make. after she refused, they told someone to "tell her ginny tate is next." they went ahead and proposed the firing of the tate firm, and eventually won that weird battle. (watch the tapes of that meeting and notice how happy they seem with themselves after tate's firm was oustered.)

their plan was to remove anyone who geryk had had success working with, in an attempt to intimidate her and make her feel vulnerable.

THAT is how catherine and steve decided to use their "power" on the school committee.

didn't work. they totally underestimated geryk, not being able to understand what it's like to battle people like them your whole life to get where you are.

and now catherine is the lady at the school bake sales, and steve ran away to work at the university of illinois (probably because his family had had enough.)

and now geryk gets to call the shots while larry sits at his computer and whines.

Anonymous said...

Tate was fired to save money. Marks Meadow was closed to save money. People object to all the administrative costs to save money.

With money saved, more can be spent on classroom teaching.

Steve and Catherine were very smart about the fact that ARHS spends way too much on things it doesn't have to. But please continue to vilify them for that.

Exactly how many more programs would we have to cut to pay for Marks Meadow if that had been left open?

Anonymous said...

Tate was fired because steve and catherine declared war on maria geryk. They were one of the most destructive duos to hit the amherst school community in decades.

Anonymous said...

2:50 -- you honestly have no idea.

i do agree with you that closing marks meadow saved money...and i'm glad maria geryk was proposing that moe for two years before sanderson took sole credit for that.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent Geryk also is responsible for shrinking administrative costs... and she hasn't even been on the job a year yet.

She changed vice-principals' status from full-year to school-year (teachers' schedule) which was a money-saving move, (3 people times 40 work days each = 120 days times whatever they make "per day", so to speak,) and also moved some full year admins. out of the central office (including her next door neighbor who is a close friend of hers, and was for 10 years before they started working together and living in the same neighborhood together) into school-year positions for a lot less pay. Could you imagine yourself doing that? I don't think many of us could stomach that. She's one tough lady.

That's only a couple of examples.

She doesn't strike me as the kind of administrator who spends money on a lawyer for no reason, or because she's part of some kind of "good ol' girls" network. Sup. Geryk's track record just doesn't support that kind of claim.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it was Superintendent Geryk who proposed and fought for the closing of Mark's Meadow for two years before Sanderson was even a school committee member. Sanderson and Rivkin did not conceive of that project, they took a vote on it. (It has been mentioned here before that it was the students, teachers, parents, principals, physical plant guys and ladies, and administrators who closed Mark's Meadow... NOT Catherine and Steve! Please!)

Sanderson and her ilk just love to take credit for things that other people conceive of, plan, do the work on.

As a side: I thought Rivkin said in an interview to the Bulletin or the Gazette that he got a job at the University of CHICAGO, not Illinois. (Quite a difference between those two institutions.) Anyone know what's up with that? I obviously may be mistaken.

Anonymous said...

why don't you just keep shuffling around this old town you were born into, requesting docs, larry. because, after all, you're allowed to, and these folks working their asses off to govern your town and educate your kids and run the economic powerhouse in the region are obviously stupid, conniving, amoral idiots... with faulty politics to boot... right? and it's not you townies (who own most of the town,) who are part of the "good ol' boy's and girl's" network, it's us much more recent arrivals, who've banded together to take advantage of you townies. certainly the jones' and the roberts' do everything square and even, or else you would've "investigated" and reported it here, i'm sure. and the dpw and the afd and the apd must have never made ill financial decisions, or else you would've called them on it, right?

who's part of the "good ol'" network, larry?

Anonymous said...

Steve Rivkin is now at the University of Illinois in Chicago. I just googled him to get that information.

Anonymous said...

Gazette, July 8, 2011
"Rivkin, 49, has been an economics professor at Amherst College since 1993 and a School Committee member since 2009. He plans to teach at Amherst and stay on the School Committee this fall, and then in early 2012 expects to become the head of the economics department at the University of Illinois at Chicago."
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