Saturday, November 22, 2014

Come Together, Right Now

Select Boards, Finance Committees, School Committees of all 4 towns in the Region

Over 40 local officials from four towns -- all but one of them white -- came together this morning to discuss the upcoming budget for the Regional School District, a community they collectively share, although Amherst makes up the major portion -- 88% by population.

 Maria Geryk, Mike Morris, Sean Mangano craft a Regional Budget for 4 town approval

School Superintend for the Region (Amherst, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury) Maria Geryk started off the meeting saying they were, "Very much at the beginning of the process, but it's important for you to share with us."

If this were a political rally -- which in a sense it is -- this would probably be considered a straw vote.

Three of the four towns have to approve the Regional School Budget, and then the 4th town is legally bound by the Regional Agreement to accept that status quo.

And for all of the towns the combined Regional assessment (grades 7-12) and their Elementary School budget make up the lion's share of total town spending.

 List of most recent cuts by Governor Patrick

School Finance Director Sean Mangano started off the meeting with the bad news:  Outgoing Governor Patrick's recent budget cuts (mainly impacting ARPS transportation fund by $200,000) means that a starting deficit for the upcoming year expands from a projected $760,000 to an uncomfortable $990,000.  

The Region has been using a different method of funding called Regional Agreement Method which takes into consideration a 5 year rolling average.  Thus for a few years it works to a town's slight advantage and then for a few years not quite so much.  But it all works out in the end.

Since this is a non standard way of doing business, by state law it must be approved by all four towns.  Shutesbury is currently the town coming out a "loser" in the deal as the FY16 budget will be a 5.5% increase vs a 9.4% decrease if the Region suddenly switched to the "Statutory Method".  Or a cost per pupil (139 students) of $11,921 under current system vs $10,240 under Statutory Method.

But many in the room described the current Regional Agreement Method of financing as "predictable, understandable, explainable, fair and equitable."  And for hard pressed taxpayers complaining about the more expensive years, you can always tell them "relief is coming."

At one point a Leverett representative said this year is going to be a "particularly tough year" for the town because a large tax abatement case with a major landowner will tie up money that must be placed in escrow.

He wondered if the group would consider a 2.5% cut in the overall Regional Budget?  School officials quickly noted that would be $1 million and simply not possible.  Especially since they are now facing a budget already requiring $1 million in cuts.

 Amherst Town Manager Musante suggested a tweak be found to help Leverett so the overall process is not derailed

The large assembly heard an 8 minute report from Regional Agreement Working Group Chair (also an Amherst Select Board member) Andy Steinberg on the current status of the expansion of the Region from grades 7-12 all the way down to include pre-kindergarten thru 6th grade. 

After 3 years of RAWG meetings the final report is hoped to be delivered to the Regional School Committee by year's end.  The RSC can then opt to change the Regional Agreement by a two-thirds affirmative vote thus sending the proposal to all four towns for Town Meeting approvals.

This too would require the unanimous approval of all four towns to amend the more than 50 year old Regional Agreement.  A town could, however, then vote "no" to joining the newly expanded Region and continue to utilize only the 7-12 grades.

But only the three smaller hilltowns will have that option.  Because Amherst is crucial to the operation due to sheer size it is assumed that a yes vote to form the Region is also a yes vote to join it (since it could not get off the ground without Amherst).

Interestingly if one or two of the hilltowns votes not to join (but supports its creation) they would still have elected members on the new Regional School Committee that oversees the K-12 entity.  A form of "representation without taxation."

But with all the turmoil and drama currently happening in the Regional School District, it's hard to imagine all four towns agreeing to expand the system. 


Mommy and Daddy, your reality stinks. said...


-Squeaky Squeaks

p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s.
p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s.p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s.p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s.p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s.p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. p.s. and on and on and onnnnnnn and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Anonymous said...

Larry - Where was the RSC Chair?

Larry Kelley said...

They didn't say exactly. Only that he was unable to make it. Maybe still recovering from Thursday's RSC meeting.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but notice the guy on the left in the video was wearing a hat inside a public building. Tsk tsk.

Larry Kelley said...

I think RSC members are exempt.

Anonymous said...

Why does it matter what race the people are ?

Anonymous said...

"Why does it matter what race the people are ?"


It doesn't except to blacks who need it as a tool for when they don't get what they want. Take Ferguson. A cop shoots a black kid who is drugged up, who tries to take his gun, causing it to go off in the cops truck as the kid fights with him. The cop attempting to chase the kid is threatened more and inevitably the kid charges the cop and is shot. The Grand Jury will find no wrong doing, but that is not good enough for blacks. Actually it will be an excuse to rob and steal from stores when the verdict comes down just as it was when OJ was arrested.

In Amherst CG was a lousy teacher who trumped up racism to get herself a nice paycheck. But that doesn't stop the blacks and freakish liberals from not looking at the facts, only what is going to get them what they want. They are driven by ideals and "justice" over reality.

Nina Koch said...

Anybody who is wondering if there is racism in Amherst can just read 9:48 am. I disagree with a lot of what Vira has said, but she is correct that there is some appalling content in the comment section of this blog.

The amazing thing is that some commenters want to assert that there is no racism while simultaneously saying really horrible things about people of color. You can't have it both ways!

Anonymous said...

Nina, since Larry publishes anon posts. We don't know from what "community" these (or any) posts come from. Just keep that in mind, folks. They are not necessarily from our neighbors. Also keep in mind that most of those who have signed the petition for Ms Gardner aren't from Amherst. All the misinformation and hysteria is working in Vira's favor (in the sense that it get her some followers), those who have taken the time to learn the facts, have stayed away.

Anonymous said...

This was posted on fb yesterday with the caption "A union family tries to work it out, that's what it is all about. EDU/MTA".

Is anyone else getting the impression that Carolyn and her supporters truly don't understand that they went with the nuclear option when she instructed her lawyers to file an MCAD complaint? Nothing can be "worked out" at this point ...... not with Carolyn's union, not with the district and the administration, not with the public at large ...... outside of the court of law.

I certainly wouldn't sit down in public with a mixed group, especially a group where a child is listening, without my lawyer present, and discuss ongoing litigation I instigated!

Anonymous said...

Of course there is racism Nina. In fact there is not a place on earth where it does not exist. If you thought differently then you are delusional.

Political correctness can cover up racism but under the facade is the truth, people tend to want to be with their own kind. You can call it racism if it suits you, but it's more the nature of human beings. Study after study shows that religion, race, income, education, body type and age, are the attributes which people look for in a partner, whether they know it or not. Does this preference start at birth? Seems so as again, study after study of infant socialization show they prefer to be with other infants who look more similar to them than dissimilar.

Is that racism? No, just the in-group bias and unfortunately it starts when you crawl. What it does after that is defined by many physiological cues and social cues aka racism is not so simple and far to difficult to eliminate. So call it all racism but humans see the differences in others from birth and given the choice a 15 month old will always help those of their ethnicity and to choose them as a playmate. You may not like that, but it's part of being a human.

Have a look at the studies on the subject in Frontiers in Psychology and Developmental Science and you'll understand why humans have a history of choosing their own race over another in many regards.

Dr. Ed said...

"In Amherst CG was a lousy teacher who trumped up racism to get herself a nice paycheck."

That is what I was trying to say in far more neutral and objective terms.

THAT, boys 'n' girls, is why I compared Gardner's departure from the ARHS to mine from the AHA -- that's the only reason why I did.

Nina Said:
"The amazing thing is that some commenters want to assert that there is no racism while simultaneously saying really horrible things about people of color."

Again, that's why I compared it to me -- to show the discrepancy. That there was a discrimination between her and I -- that discrimination is involved here.

Racism involves treating someone worse (or better) because of the color of her skin.

The racism is that a White guy wouldn't have even gotten the offers she turned down...

Anonymous said...

Of course there is racism. It's everywhere not just in Amherst. And did exists across all races. Everyone thinks their team is the best. Black is beautiful we heard in rhe Seventies. And so it is. And so is Brown. White. Red. Yellow. Who cares what color you are? What I care about is your actions.

Anonymous said...

Generally, I'll be about as nice to a person as they are to me. T'aint exactly the Golden Rule, but about near as I get to it.

Anonymous said...

Is speech free except for criticising people whether they're "of color" or not. Come to think of it, we're all of color. And does anyone care what color? What we care about what you do as a citzen.

Anonymous said...

Did CG have a student teacher instructing some of her classes?

Anonymous said...

At some point, it's going to be understood that a MCAD complaint is the end of a public discussion about one person's case, and not the beginning.

The Gardner matter is in the hands of the MCAD, potentially for 18 months, and that's it.

Anonymous said...

6:22 - a bit fuzzy as to whether he was a student teacher or an assistant teacher (whatever that is). But there was definitely a second teacher-like person in the class.

Anonymous said...

You got a point there about the communities of those who write in. All Are welcome; not all are from Amherst.

Anonymous said...

This whole white-black thing is a major distraction--to what is really going on--Class differences--poverty--rich people paying rich people (the media) to say how bad poor people, and people of color, and immigrants are. :( Every time you take a bite of this poisonous pie--you fatten yourself in the lies and distortion--and the money mongrels gain another dollar. Sad reality is until we stop getting soooo angry over what is happening to our black and brown children, (all our children who witness the injustices in the schools)--and it is true--they are being disproportionately disciplined, and worse--dumped into special education where , "It is not expected for them to bring home the material (English Literature--books they're reading)from class to read at home." they will continue to be mistreated--I know this from first hand accounts--it is real people and it doesn't matter one bit what Maria writes in her little handbooks--It doesn't matter what rolls off her tongue during her popularity contests--I mean sc meetings--Our children are being harmed--and it's got to stop. The first step is to realize it--and change the biased, accepted ways of the system.

Anonymous said...

People who write in complain an awful lot about the rich. And we we all wanna BE rich! Ain't that a riot?