Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Regionalization Not Ready For Prime Time

RSC voted unanimously to support $30 million budget but no vote on Regionalization

The Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee closed the door on sending an agreement to all four Town Meetings this year by not coming to a vote in favor of the draft document presented to them last month by their subcommittee, the Regional Agreement Working Group.

Since the education expansion involves amending the Regional Agreement it would have required a two-thirds vote of the committee and then must be approved by all four town meetings. 

Currently the four towns -- Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, and Shutesbury -- have been joined in a Region at grades 7-12 for almost 60 years.

 RSC Chair Trevor Baptiste (center)

Regional School Committee Chair Trevor Baptiste started the meeting (8 minutes late) by saying the agenda allowed ten minutes of discussion on the idea but that it should serve to come up with an outline for a longer discussion at their upcoming March 24 meeting.

The Select Board is scheduled to sign the Amherst Town Meeting final warrant at their March 23rd meeting.

The discussion then went on for almost 45 minutes with most members solidly agreeing a lot more time is needed to flesh out a regional agreement, even after the three years of work by their sub-committee.

While improving  the quality of education at the preK-6 level is paramount it still has to  be politically palatable enough to pass all four town meetings, and Amherst School Committee member Kathleen Traphagen suggested it would be helpful if actual cost savings could be documented.

The School Committee's attorney has yet to provide them with a legally vetted document that imbeds all the changes suggested by RAWG into the current Regional Agreement, so it would have been all but impossible to vote on it this evening anyway.

As generations of Boston Red Sox fans would say, "We'll get 'em next year!"


Anonymous said...

Die, RAWG, die!

Anonymous said...

Forget that, what about the cuts. My God, the climate specialist is losing her job. And she did so much. (Snicker) Is it because the worse of the cold weather is over. (chuckle) Why must teachers be cut. Isn't there more than enough administrative jobs that can go? Two assistant principals? Just curious, how many admins are there in the system anyway Larry? Of said another way, how much waste is being kept at the top while again kids suffer at the loss of teachers, the direct link to education.

Anonymous said...

I think they should put Calvin Terrel on as full-time staff. Chief of Chill. Superintendent of Vibes. Or better yet.. JANITOR.

Anonymous said...

Amherst school is just a sample of larger problems with American k-12 education. Here is an interesting piece to read...

The key reason for the failure of American schools is the government monopoly of public education. Once the government — even local government — gets involved in anything, the fastest growing segment of that enterprise quickly becomes the bureaucracy, in this case, principals, assistant principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents, assistants to the assistant superintendents, etc., etc., etc. In addition, American schools are controlled by unionized teachers, licensed by State Boards of Education, and intellectually dominated by the remarkably similar university Schools of Education throughout the country. The interrelatedness of all these institutional influences leaves the local school boards able to do little more than hire and fire superintendents and provide the funding for ever-increasing budgets.

What we need is experimentation with different approaches to different challenges. Charter schools, home schooling, and limited voucher programs have shown the way. It is time to act on what we have learned from these experiences.

The answer is not the curriculum, the teachers, the books, or the facilities. The answer is to change the way the American institution of education is organized.

The way to accomplish this goal has been pioneered by school vouchers. The new principle for overhauling our educational system is this: the money should follow the child, not the school.

This approach puts parents in charge of the child’s education, rather than the State, rather than the teachers, principals, or superintendents. With each child carrying a publicly funded voucher, many experiments with educational strategies will be tried. The successful schools will be easy to spot – they will be the ones with the most students. Likewise, teacher evaluation will be vastly simplified — the best teachers are the ones with the greatest parent support. (One note on teachers’ unions: Collective bargaining does not go away, but the rules on tenure will have to change.)

Dr. Ed said...

Anon 2:35AM raises a good point.

Larry, the names & salaries of public employees is a matter of public record, as are the specifics of where and how they spend their working day.

While name of any child, or anything "personally identifiable" to any child is protected by FERPA, the fact that a public employee works with children and the specific nature of what the public employee does with/for/to them is not.

While the information the public employee has is confidential, the fact that the public employee works with it, and what the employee does is not!

There is precedent on this -- me forcing UMass to name the members of the then super-secret Assessment Care Team. The public has an inherent right to know how public employees spend those hours they are on the public payroll.

While there is the public safety/security exception to the public records law, there is also precedent on that one too. Remember the 2006 Deval Patrick Pep Rally in the Cage? UMass wouldn't tell me how much it cost in police overtime.

I argued that public safety would not be jeopardized by the public knowing "how much extra money an unknown number of police officers would have to spend on Christmas presents for their children" and Boston agreed.

I know how much work would be involved but I would request the data for all three districts as well as the central office -- then compile a single list of who, what, and how much. I would include everyone, perhaps not listing the salaries of those below a certain level -- perhaps the Western MA median family income figure.

Anonymous said...

Honestly think that Calvin Terrel has ever mopped a floor?

I'm not saying "stood around with mop in hand" but actually done it???

Honorable work done well is respectable and you shouldn't disrespect janitors by comparing them with this schmuck.

Dr. Ed said...

(One note on teachers’ unions: Collective bargaining does not go away, but the rules on tenure will have to change.)

I'm not so sure -- there always has been the "RIF" exception to tenure, if there are more teachers than they need (i.e. have money for), they get laid off, tenured or not.

But the teachers' unions have a very different issue -- they think the collective good rather than the individual good -- they don't want Black kids in Boston to be able to go to a Charter School because it isn't "fair" that the kid who wants to learn is able to do better than those who don't.

Anonymous said...

Also check out amount of money apportioned for secretarial/administrative assistant positions to support recently (last couple of years) elevated administrators -

Anonymous said...

Ed, all of that info is online and easy for anyone to access. You don't have to request it.

Anonymous said...

Tax money follows the children, not stuck with a low performance school.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why Mr. Shabazz abstained in the budget vote?

I'm looking for the explanation most favorable to Mr. Shabazz, not the snark answer.

I can supply the snark.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't Mr. Terell be coming back for another visit or two per his contract with the district? Or the district now paying him his money & asking him not to return?

Larry Kelley said...

Last I heard he was coming back "next year". I do know he is all done at Amherst College, the ones who are paying his freight.