Thursday, November 13, 2014

Regional Roadblock?

Regional Agreement Working Group (established 2011) almost final meeting 10/15/14

After three years of spending evenings together discussing the best interests of their individual towns, err, I mean the collective-good-of-education-for-all-children-in-the-four-town-region, you would think the 12 member committee (4 from each town) would be solidly in favor of their plan to expand the Region (currently grades 7-12) all the way down to pre-kindergarten.

At the last Regional Agreement Working Group meeting (10/15) Shutesbury member Michael DeChiara started things off with a stern note of skepticism.  Now one committee member does not make or break a proposed recommendation ... usually.

In this case, however, it could.

video

Because in order to change the Regional Agreement to allow the educational expansion, all four towns via their Town Meetings have to support the idea -- even if they do not plan to join the expanded Region at inception. 

Now why would Shutesbury rain on this ill-prepared parade and say "no," thus killing the ambitious project?   They are already involved with the Region at the 7-12 level, and could be concerned the expansion will destabilize the entire Region, costing them more financially.

Or the other deal killer expressed by another smaller town is that the newly expanded entity could decide to close an elementary school for the "good of the Region."   And you can bet it would not be an Amherst (who makes up almost 90% of the new Region) elementary school on the chopping block.

At the 10/14 Amherst Regional School Committee Meeting Chair Trevor Baptiste, who is also a member of the RAWG, made it sound like the expanded regionalization report would very soon be coming before the Regional School Committee for their approval, which requires a two thirds vote.

The 10/15 meeting demonstrated they are not close to drafting a final report.  And as of now, no further meetings of the RAWG have been scheduled.  

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered:

What is Alisa writing down while others are talking? Swear words? You'll see her doing it throughout meetings. It's gotta be some channeling thing, frustration out through her fingertips onto the page.

And how much punishment over years and years and years can one woman take?

She's our town's Joan of Arc figure.

As for Mike, we've known and loved him for years.

Dr. Ed said...

Better solution, abolish the small towns -- absorb them into Amherst for economy of scale and then move 8th grade into the high school, have 4-7 in the middle school, and build a K-3 school between the two.

Close ALL the elementary schools, and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed.

I have thought carefully and sensitively about your idea, with full respect for your wisdom on this subject, knowing that you have a doctorate, and have lectured us extensively on a variety of topics.

No.

Anonymous said...

What does Amherst get out of this proposed deal?

Loss of Amherst's 100% control over our elementary school budget, curriculum and policy. Our voting power will go down to about 52%.

When it comes to selecting a superintendent or closing a school, the voting power of Amherst will drop below 50% of the vote. (Amherst has 88% of the population of the 4 towns.)

Taking on small, expensive high performing elementary schools in towns that can no longer afford them. As one member of this committee: "I'm only here for the money." Other members have described their small elementary schools as "financially unsustainable."

The 3 smaller towns can vote on and impose a school budget over Amherst Town Meeting's opposition.

So, less control over our tax dollars, weaker voting strength, less focus on our school children, paying for other towns' high performing, expensive schools and cuts to our town budget to pay for them.

Anything else?

Oh yes, other towns get to vote for the Amherst members of the regional school committee and we get the gift of voting for their school commitee members.

Say what?

And Shutesbury gets 2 school committee members on the Regional School committee, up from their current 1 member. Shutesbury has no plans to join the full K-12 region. So Shutesbury's 2 members will vote on the elementary school curriculum, budget, etc all affecting Amherst kids--votes that won't affect their elementary kids.

Can Amherst students at least go to the high performing hilltown elementary schools?

They can already. Amherst kids now can Choice into Pelham and Leverett. Each school has a declining student population.

When do we get to the good part for Amherst?

Dr. Ed said...

"Taking on small, expensive high performing elementary schools in towns that can no longer afford them. As one member of this committee: "I'm only here for the money." Other members have described their small elementary schools as "financially unsustainable."

The towns themselves are unsustainable -- at least at the level they want to be at.

Anonymous said...

Mike D. has the qualities of a bully. I don't know why he has not been removed from any and all civic duties. The committee is a huge waste of time. The small towns want complete control. Amherst residents think the committee is giving up to much for Amherst. Dissolve the committee already and stop wasting your time members. Go spend time with family and friends. Even a dysfunctional family is better than these meetings.

Anonymous said...

Mike seems to be a guy who thrives on confrontation, which is not what you're looking for from a board of this type.

Is anyone struck by how much speakers in public meetings in Amherst and surrounding towns use the personal pronoun "I" as in "I'm not happy", "this is not what I expected", "I would be comfortable with..."? It has an odd sound, as if we all should focus on how to please YOU. This is often when these folks are serving in a representative capacity.

Anonymous said...

Why do two or three Amherst fire engines respond to each elevator entrapment at U Mass?

With personnel shortages- this really needs to be addressed.

Today's stuck elevator had one person on board and two engines responded

Dr. Ed said...

Maybe there is a minimum number of bodies required and it took two engines to produce that many?

Maybe it was a training exercise -- park an engine in the wrong place/manner in a situation like this is a low-stakes error -- it's not if you are responding to a working fire...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ed should just say, "I don't know."

Dr. Ed said...

Maybe Ed should just say, "I don't know."

Ed actually was saying: "Look, no one is more critical of AFD than I, but there very well may have been a legitimate reason for this; and before blindly demanding that it "be addressed", it might be worthwhile to ensure that there wasn't one. Facts do matter...."

Or -- prove that they are wasting resources *first*, then lynch them for it....

None of this "Sentence Now, Verdict Later" stuff....

Anonymous said...

In other words, Ed is incapable of saying, "I don't know."

This from the idiot who's always yelling, "Facts matter!", until he screws up those facts, as he usually does -- at which point he just shrugs, "Whatever". (See the blog comments about the truck that hit the bridge for the latest example.)

Anonymous said...

this is RAWG deal for Amherst and I hope the Amherst reps will be appropriately embarrassed with they "recommend" the plan to Amherst TM. They should have walked away a long time ago, stating that they could not arrive at a negotiated plan that didn't disenfranchise Amherst tax payers and students.

Anonymous said...

I haven't submitted anything to anyone. And not true. We're talking One east Pleasant, but whatever. It will be settled in court.

Anonymous said...

Kendrick Place, are I you kidding? As in four parking spaces for two hundred residents and two businesses? You're actually that as a PB achievement? The guy 's right. A joke.

Anonymous said...

Facts do matter. And the facts are that both Kendrick Place and One East Pleasant are off campus dorms without parking and without proper safeguards for the community at large. The PB failed to ask for any modifications despite a litany of legitimate citizen concerns. The PB failed, period. The fix was in because Musante only appoints people who tow the line and reflect his narrow views. He actively blocks boards being representative of the entire community. He is a disaster to this town.

Anonymous said...

We need a Mayor!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:38,

You absolutely correct. The reps for Amherst should listen well to your opinion.

Anonymous said...

Facts do matter. And the facts are that both Kendrick Place and One East Pleasant are off campus dorms without parking and without proper safeguards for the community at large. The PB failed to ask for any modifications despite a litany of legitimate citizen concerns. The PB failed, period. The fix was in because Musante only appoints people who tow the line and reflect his narrow views. He actively blocks boards being representative of the entire community. He is a disaster to this town.