Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Regionalization Snoozer

Only a half dozen parents participated in last night's public forum

Last night's public forum in Amherst -- the first of four in our public school Region -- does not bode well for those who champion public involvement in major bureaucratic/governmental decisions.

In this case the expansion of the current grades 7-12 public education empire that combined the little towns of Pelham, Leverett, Shutesbury with the not so little town of Amherst over sixty years ago.

Thirty people came to the Regional High School library for the not overly well advertised event, but the vast majority were town or school officials.  Only six spectators who came to the microphone with questions -- four from Amherst -- identified themselves as parents.

 Town Moderator Jim Pistrang, Sandy Pooler, Katherine Appy, Alisa Brewer

Town Finance Director Sandy Pooler was forthright about the dollar aspect of the decision saying, "There's no significant financial impact one way or the other. Finances shouldn't drive this decision."

 About half the $600K "savings" comes from Amherst medicaid money

And like any good public speaker he closed on the same theme:  "This is not a financial decision for the town of Amherst, it's an educational decision."

The usual theme of unifying education was the pitch promoted by school officials, although some in the audience worried about too much conformity.

And the time saved by only having to file one report with the state for the Region rather than the current three (at about 1,000 pages per year per report).

Select Board Chair Alisa Brewer tried to handle the governance issue but like that Facebook relationship status, "It's complicated."  Amherst would have 7 elected members on the newly expanded 13 member Regional School Committee, with the other three towns each having two representatives.

But all voters in all four towns would get to vote on all 13 members.   One Shutesbury official wondered how it would make a Shutesbury representative feel when he/she were elected with over 90% input from voters outside of Shutesbury.

And town official Marylou Theilman pointed out a town could decide not to join the expanded Region (but as long as they vote yes to reopening the Regional Agreement the expansion can still happen) and therefor their representative would still have a say over elementary schools even though they do not have a financial stake in the matter.

Town Meeting member, parent and Regionalization watch dog Janet McGowan sent an email earlier in the day to the School Committee requesting officials hold another public meeting in November with better advance information distribution. 

Simply put, when education is your product the smarter approach is indeed transparency.

Vince O'Connor:  "It's depressing to go to meetings like this and see how ineffective public officials are at getting parents of color to attend."

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

why would we care if regionalizing saves staff some work in the central office (filing reports)? Clearly it doesn't save Amherst $ to save the staff this work. If it doesn't save us money (and actually costs Amherst $$) how does it improve student outcomes? It won't align the curriculum, as the small towns were promised that they can keep control over their curriculum. The governance is insanely complicated and will blunt the voting power of the largest community- Amherst. Amherst has way more poverty/low income folks (~40%) compared to the small towns (average maybe ~10%). Looks a lot like gerrymandering- talk about a case ripe for our local NAACP. One that actually has merit.

Anonymous said...

The difference in cost btwn statutory and alternative assessment for Amherst (4 towns) is huge (difference of $300,000/year). This is probably about the amount of money ($300,000/year) that Amherst pays (in the ARPS) now because of application of the alternative assessment (but saves the other towns $). When this was brought up at TM, no discussion/outrage ensued. While Amherst has overpaid hundreds of thousands of dollars/year, dysfunctional TM instead spent ample time talking about 10's of thousands of dollars. Go figure! We need a mayor who can see the nonsense and do something about it.

Could a town be ANY more dysfunctional? said...

Those with the most to gain

sit riiiiiiight up front.



Notice that?


No?


It's ok,

go back to sleep, Amherst.



-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. Man, this is some strong sh*t. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ--Did Vince say something?--ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...

Anonymous said...

Whoa~and the blah, blah, blah goes on and on. All this side washing with issues of regionalizing, and possibly building a new school and consolidating the middle and high schools, and planting a solar panel farm for the school/town's use, is a finely tuned distraction to what is really going on. The NAACP current issue of ending the discipline disparity for once and for all is one of actual merit. It is one that should be top priority for any 'official' be it town or school administration. It is real and it is happening every day in our schools. Our white children are being damaged when they witness their peers of color being unjustly disciplined for 'offenses' they know too well they get away with performing. They then go out into the adult world and carry on this abuse--they really do--Try and take that survey! The more this cycle of abuse is being spoken to administration, the deeper they hide and the higher they cover their pile of guilt.

Anonymous said...

anon@1109: I think you will also find that there are now many instances where minorities are NOT disciplined for misbehavior (just so the schools can report a reduction). What message does that send to peers? It tells them that you can do (just about) anything and not get disciplined. This was rampant in the MS last year, we will see how it is handled in the HS with this cohort who got that message. I suspect a careful look at the discipline data might reveal that it is small number of the SAME kids (who might happen to be minorities) who get the majority of discipline actions. There are definitely issues of equity that should concern the NAACP- like why nearly almost no black kids perform at advanced proficient in math. Could it be the way our district insists on offering a certain pedagogy? One that is inaccessible to a large number of our students without considerable intervention, like private tutoring or parental help? The contribution of the "delivery" of our math curriculum to the achievement gap is entirely predicable...

Anonymous said...

Of you like your curriculum, you can keep your curriculum. Just like the phony promise of Obamacare.

Anonymous said...

This must be a joke. The students "of color" are the last to be disciplined. 11:09, you're kidding, right? Surely you know about the lamebrained liberal non-discipline policy, don't you? Godalmighty.

Anonymous said...

Obama and his liberal minions can't get out fast enough. Not that Amherst can ever be saved...

Anonymous said...

We've lost some great teachers this year already due to this nonsense that's going on in our school system. And what? Nobody says Anything!

Anonymous said...

11:09 a.m.: If you look at the actual offenses for which students have been disciplined - ie. assault, drugs, etc. - you will hopefully realize that any school would discipline students for these offenses - in fact, loosening the consequences just leads students to believe they can get away with anything, as 11:27 a.m. correctly points out.

Anonymous said...

If. Of course. Not 'of.' Ugh

Anonymous said...

11:09 here--not kidding--not one bit--lived the disparity and know it first hand--it is for real--adults have got to stand back and take a good. long. hard. look at ourselves--We were raised with minus exposure to people of color--come on now--No Black people in our classrooms growing up--no Black people in our history books--still difficult to find--no teaching of slavery or of the American Indian massacres. Getting away with being fresh and disrespectful to adults is not what it is being advocated here. Please don't twist things around--Students of color are not in high achieving classes because so much time is wrapped up in keeping them out of the room--they're missing out on lessons sitting in seclusion. It is time to take back our classrooms and support our teachers--they need help!! They don't need to leave--they need stronger administrative support. god almighty!??? whoa... While the pockets of the top notch admins are getting fatter and fatter--the support staff and other highly qualified teachers are getting side swiped right from under the students's feet. :( sad story--
And that old statement that it is the same student(s) getting disciplined over and over that makes their numbers look soooo high, is bs! If this is true then we oughta be pretty dang worried for this child(ren).

Anonymous said...

Mac and Cheese boy sure has your blog hopping with
Visitors from all over the US!

You have a picture of his Dad in court with him last year.
Today's picture is of Dad loading the car to leave UConn.

My thoughts are with the Dad!

Anonymous said...

When ypu say no black people in your classrooms, and all the other drivel you refer to, exactly who are you talking about?.You say "we." Please. Speak for yourself. All we hear about from you liverals is how we have racism, as Obama says "in our dna." Does that mean he has it in his too? I don't have it in mine. Nor did my parents. Nor theirs. So stop telling me what to thonk and how tp speak.

Anonymous said...

We've been taught to death about slavery. Is there anyone who doesn't know about it? The Jews were slaves. Muslims have been slaves. And yes, whites too. Your ass was never a slave. Nor was the ass of anyone I know.

Anonymous said...

Voting is not about picking winners, it is about you accepting loosing in advance.

This is about removing the borders between towns when it comes to the regional school. It makes no sense to rig the vote in advance so that small towns get two votes. The voters can decide this, it is a vote.

There is also no real universal bond between town members. Future town members are decided by those in town that are leaving. Sellers rarely interview buyers and usually make the decision of who your neighbor is going to be based on the largest offer (bribe), like landlords.

People decide for others all the time at way more than the 90% level - that is the new American "freedom" that mocks the flag and those that died for us every minute. That Shutsbury official seems to not understand the concept. Regionalization is about removing the town borders in regards to the school district. It is similar to a town forming out of a bunch of properties. The properties still exist, but when it comes to voting in town, the border between you and your neighbor is not a factor in your voting rights. You can own 99% of a town with 1000 people and still have the same voting power as the lowly peasants (at least you can evict them for disagreeing, unless they vote your property rights away - sound familiar). This is similar to us saying that all races will have equal rights in town and this guy saying, "but that guy is black". Not a smart town official.

Anonymous said...

Students are no longer disciplined at ARHS. Teacher write ups of infractions are changed by the administration to prevent too many suspensions, so why should they write up anyone. The students know they are running the building and if they fail their parents will show up and threaten to sue.

Anonymous said...

Larry, isn't it understood that Leverett and Shutesbury have no plan to vote in favor of Regionalization? Perhaps that's why there is so little interest in the debate. I thought this was a "dead in the water" type issue and am kind of surprised we're still spending time and resources on it. Or... maybe I've missed a turn of event/change in sentiment???

Larry Kelley said...

Shutesbury will most likely vote no on Question 1 to allow opening the Regional Agreement, thus killing the entire project.

Anonymous said...

Who appointed Vince to speak for Black folk?

Anonymous said...

is it possible that the push by our admin for regionalization is partly motivated by the WW project? Where will WW students go during renovation/rebuilding? Do we even need another building? If the MS moves to the HS, as the admin wants (and history shows they ALWAYS get what they want- thx SC), then there is plenty capacity for Amherst elementary kids to fit into the MS (or at least those proposed to go into a new WW building 2-6 grade?). It seems much cheaper to lease the MS building from the region (if total regionalization fails as expected) than to build another school.

Anonymous said...

7:53 Of course Vince can, haven't you ever heard of the "Black Irish" or Van Morrison. lol

Anonymous said...

He doesn't even speak for white folk either.

Anonymous said...

hopefully, Shutsbury TM will vote NO before the issue needs to be brought to Amherst TM, which will vote no by a large majority, but only after hours and hours of "discussion".

Anonymous said...

Unofrutnately Vince speaks for a lot of people

Anonymous said...

Unofrutnately indeed.