Friday, April 1, 2016

Another Principal Resigns

Fort River could merge into a mega school if a $30+ million Override passes in November

Well today certainly has been a day for high profile resignations, first the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce and now the Fort River Elementary School principal.

I've lost count of how many principals have left the Amherst school system over the past six or seven years but suffice it to say, a LOT.

 Click to enlarge/read


Anonymous said...

Can somebody please find out how many principals in Fort River in the past 10 years? I am not sure but the number might be 5. what is gong on?

Anonymous said...

another one.

Walter Graff said...

She was well underqualified. The teachers liked her as a person, but she was overwhelmed as an administrator. Plus her whole time there she travelled to Boston each week to get her degree so she can be, what else, a superintendent. If you recall the third pick of the bunch when they were looking was forced to drop out because vetting her found nothing out of the ordinary. It was embarrassing when in the last minute a teacher easily did a search and found out she had an egregious DWI. Nice vetting by the school system. And the remaining woman this principal ran against in the search claim to fame was that she was from Amherst as if that was good enough. Clearly the administration likes to hire them 'dumb' so they can control them, and no one gets out of line. It doesn't take long before they either move on or they get absorbed into the main office like the last unqualified principal was. Now they'll have another search for a very underqualified person who the administration can keep in line. Welcome to one of the worst run school systems in Massachusetts.

Walter Graff said...

I think it's 5 in six or 6 in five.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what Walter Graff said, which I why I find it necessary to challenge his "hire them 'dumb'" comment. Turnover is disturbing. The candidate field was thin for the position Ms. Finocchio filled. Someone in HR should have gotten reprimanded for the (lack of) vetting of the third candidate. In my opinion, no one in Central Office called the references for the second candidate. But Ms. Finocchio is anything but dumb, and to say so minimizes the issue and undermines the credibility of the rest of the statements.

Anonymous said...

You'd think someone would (eventually) discover the merit of a few exit interviews...

Anonymous said...

The administration did a national search a few years ago for a Crocker Farm principal, Dr. Tesauro, who then lasted only a year.

Considering that that her hire helped with the district's goal of diversifying its staff, it's a disappointing that more wasn't done (more support or whatever else was needed) to keep her here. Same with other diverse staff who have left. The district needs to figure out how both to hire more diverse staff AND retain them.

Anonymous said...

Haters are gonna hate... when anything happens in the Amherst schools there are always those that will spin it to blame the schools and the administration. How do you explain the long tenure of Nick Yaffe and Derek Shea if the administration is trying to "control" under qualified principals The district has some wonderfully talented educators. Can't spin this one other than what the resignation letter says. The Fort River principal is heading back east to be closer to family. And I hope, a community that is a little less ready to pounce with nasty assertions and false interpretations.

Anonymous said...

Bobbie Finocchio was a fantastic principal and I am sad to see her go. I wish her the best. That being said I am disturbed with the continual turmoil at the principal position at Fort River. With a new principal next year that will be the 4th one my child has experienced since beginning at Fort River. This is unacceptable.

Walter Graff said...

Play all the political correctness you want, I never called her dumb in the context of what I said. I was using the literary term of to make dumb or unheard; silence. Finocchio was green and found out the first week she took the job with all of her wonderful plans for the future (which she had) that she needed to follow the rules. Poof! End of what could have been a fine principal. She was a wonderful person, no doubt, and the teachers loved that aspect of her. The fact that the administration picked three less-than-stellar candidates, and didn't seem to bother to vet them is actually quite disturbing. On second thought, they were vetted if you use the definition "checked carefully to make sure that it is acceptable to people in authority." They all fit the profile of the kind of person the administration wanted. That is how the administration likes them. I use the term "dumb". You can call it what you wish. Won't change the reality no matter what word you used.

Walter Graff said...

Finnocio wanted something on her resume on her way to being a superintendent herself and thought coming to Amherst would look good on the resume as she like others thought Amherst was a quality school system. When she started she had a set of goals. One week later she looked battered and beaten clearly put in her place by the system. It's hard not to find culpability in the system as it shows time and again that if there is a poor decision to be made, it will do make them. Many great teachers and administrators stay in Amherst to this day. Don't confuse great individuals with a lousy administration.

Anonymous said...

Average tenure for an principal in the state: 3 years. Absurdly difficult job that doesn't pay that well (what would someone make in the corporate world with that kind of responsibility?). Tack on to the degree of difficulty the aggressive parents and a staff that disliked the last principal and you have a borderline impossible task.

Anonymous said...

Many of the administrators who've left Fort River within the last 10 years have demonstrated behavioral symptoms associated with Toxic Mold Syndrome. And not to mention the toxic people they've had to encounter each day.

Anonymous said...

The theme within the last year or so seems to be: "I'm going to go away from here, and to somewhere where it feels like home and where the people feel like family." It's definitely chatter. There's no point in putting your heart and soul into something for people with no appreciation, or worse, who want to abuse you.

Sick government with no checks and balances, sick buildings, sick retail environment, sick social and political arena.

LEB said...

While we all know there are consequences for any staff member who speaks out about what goes on in our Amherst Public Schools, it's time you heard from one. I have been a long-time member of the Fort River staff and I will say that there is dysfunction and sadness within our community. We are a hard-working staff whose student/family population has changed drastically within the last ten years. We know we are looked at by C.O. administration as the "difficult, poor, step-children" of the district. We do feel forgotten, and are disheartened that our students are treated differently than those in Wildwood and Crocker Farm Schools. We have a decaying physical environment and air quality that is at the very least, questionable. Many of us have high class sizes because our teaching teams have been reduced to two classes for each grade level in the primary grades. Reduction of our staff and classroom resources have been common within the last five years, as the district readies itself for its mega-school future. We have two district programs within our school that require our staff and students to be prepared and flexible for the learning and behavioral demands of both children on the autism spectrum and those who have extreme and often traumatic emotional backgrounds. We have not had proper training for these demanding students, and we have not had the benefit of support from our superintendent and assistant superintendent when we have needed it most. Within the last five years, I can count on one hand, the times when Ms. Geryk and Mr. Morris have come into our school to ask or observe how our school community is doing. We often see Mr. Morris when a staff member's practice is called into question, or when a principal is announcing his/her resignation, as was the case yesterday. We do not feel at all valued by our district leaders or our "fly-by-night" principals who are recruited to lead us, and then within a year, are shocked at how difficult it is to lead within a school community that is not given the resources or support it needs to function properly.
I know this comment will be viewed by some as whining, but please talk to a Fort River teacher, para-educator, custodian, secretary, or parent. You will find that all we want is a leader who is invested in the Fort River community for who we are today, not after we are absorbed into the proposed mega-school community. We have no reason to be optimistic when principals are recruited from beyond the valley. Leaders like Derek Shea or Nick Yaffe have many reasons to stay here in Amherst. They have stayed because they have personal history here and family roots. They did not take the job because the district supported their four day work week while they pursued a doctorate degree, only to predictably resign the day after successfully defending their doctoral dissertation.

Anonymous said...

Fort River teachers are drastically over-resourced in terms of support staff and programming compared to just about any public school state-wide.

Anonymous said...

LEB, keep in mind that that people in Amherst who are reading your comments might just disagree with you, and possibly even at a ratio of about two to one.

Anonymous said...

Amen and Amen. And please note the convergence of large class sizes and the presence of the two District programs--this means that when children with significant behavioral and learning needs are integrated into the classroom, they are coming into classrooms that are already pushing the optimal limits. Wouldn't you think that a CO that truly valued the learning of all of its students would ensure the opposite? I echo--talk to a Fort River staff member. This is an amazingly hard-working and doggedly positive community, that despite the challenges is deeply committed to the children in their care.

Anonymous said...

Why is it we should always have to respond to an anonymous invitation, from a CAN teacher, to listen to one of their private critiques of the administration, if we want to know "what's really going on in the classrooms"? What a dysfunctional form of communication with the parents some teachers are promoting here!

And if you're not capable of educating each kid who comes into your classroom equally, go get another master's or doctoral degree, you're getting paid some of the best salaries in the state for what you're doing, please be ready for our kids.

Unknown said...

Bobbie was principal in name only. Diane has been running things all year.

matthew rud45 said...

Fort River is the dumping ground for the other grammer schools. Bobbie did nothing to protect the staff or student body from this practice. I'm not sure what she did actually. From my experience Diane has been running the school all year. I have several children enrolled there for the record. I was literally driving to the superintendent office to complain about Bobbie when the news broke. Let's hope she recovers the recommendation she deserves.
P.S. My wife took a 25k pay cut to work for Amherst. Instate move from another public district. Pay is slightly below average at best.

Anonymous said...

Finocchio wasn't at her last job long either, just 3 years.

The article also mentions that she is expected to graduate with her doctorate in May 2016.

Larry Kelley said...

Interesting the article said she signed a "three year contract" with Amherst.

And by my math would still has a year left.

Anonymous said...

FYI, a doctorate earned in March is awarded in May -- the official degree date is the next commencement the institution has.

Anonymous said...

It is odd to compare the principal of a public institution to the head of a poorly performing marketing firm.

The principal is in charge of tons of money taken by force.

The chamber head is in charge of a few bucks of volunteered money.

The chamber is not high profile, even among businesses, who all pay far more to the schools.

Larry Kelley said...

Silly me but I found that odd -- even for an Anon.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, the 94 Ed Reform eliminated tenure for principals, hence unlike the "continuing contract" of teachers, it has to be a finite contract. Like with a Supt.

I noticed three things:

First, she "wanted to relocate to Western Mass." Now "wants to be closer to family."

Second, Amherst paid relocation expenses -- will she refund this?

Third, Amherst was paying for her doctorate -- at pricey Boston College, no less.
Traditionally, there is an expectation that the employer will benefit from the expense, usually there is a requirement to either remain for a few years or refund the tuition money. UM has something similar with sabbaticals, you are supposed to come back the next year.

WILL she be refunding the travel expenses and tuition money?!!?

Larry, depending on the agreement between either Amherst and her or BC, Amherst may have paid for more than just one year of her doctorate. It's the credits that are expensive, and the research, once one is writing it, there really aren't any significant costs.

Larry, you likely are talking five figures here, likely six....

Oh, and yes, I did note her SPED M.Ed. -- interesting....

Anonymous said...

Huh, back in the day Crocker was the "difficult poor step children" school and everyone pulled their kids out to send to Fort River. Funny what a remodel and redistricting did.

Anonymous said...

If, and I reiterate, IF, anything Ed says above is true, I would actually like to know the answer to those questions also.

Can't believe I'm saying this...

Anonymous said...

The futility of the liberal agenda must be a crushing and frustrating thing to have to uphold and believe in. For those who don't adhere to it, wearing that "pod-people" face must take a lot out of one.

Anonymous said...

That ratio...did you make that up? Or do you have some basis for it? Could be the other way round but for the afore-mentioned "pod-people."

Anonymous said...

Someone on facebook said "half the staff is finding out about this on facebook, there was a staff meeting at the end of the day, and if you couldn't go, you weren't told."

Why were half the teachers at Fort River unavailable to attend a staff meeting at 3:30 on a Friday? Are staff meetings which are scheduled during contracted work hours when students are not there non-mandatory?

Anonymous said...

yes, i made up the ratio, 9:37, now go back to sleep.

Anonymous said...

What kind of a mark would take a 25K pay cut to come to Amherst to work and then enroll several of their kids in FR, the home of the most dysfunctional, negative-break-room-teacher culture in the district?

Anonymous said...

The person who posted that was most likely on a van helping to transport a student home. Several staff have van/bus duty beyond normal school hours. The meeting was NOT "scheduled" or announced ahead of time to allow staff to plan accordingly so they could be there when it began-I've just double checked my email to see if it was posted there ahead of time. It was not. In fact, we all heard about it around 3:10 in the end-of-day announcements over the intercom when many of us are bustling around getting students to busses, parent pickup etc. Even some of us who were inside the building to hear that announcement and be in attendance didn't make it into lounge for the start of the meeting at 3:15 as we had to wrap up our work duties first, so folks were still hustling into the meeting at 320/325 having missed Bobbie's initial announcement. It was necessary for her to repeat it twice and others had to ask their neighbor what the announcement was. Horribly orchestrated. And a wretched way to end another hard week. But as usual these kinds of bombs tend to get dropped in the final moments on a Friday. Thanks for the much needed relaxing weekend Amherst. And by the way unless you work inside the Fort River building, you really have no idea what this is like for us who do or have. Demoralizing and exhausting. Monday should be delightful.

Dr. Ed said...

If, and I reiterate, IF, anything Ed says above is true, I would actually like to know the answer to those questions also.

Read the 2014 newspaper article for yourself. I'm not the person who posted the URL. Nor do I know the reporter, but why would he/she/it fabricate this?
(*I* surely didn't -- trace back the URL's IP address if you doubt me.)

As to expectations that someone whose moving expenses you've paid and whose doctorate you've paid for (not to mention permitting not to be there 1/5 of the week) will remain with you long enough for you to get some return on your investment -- that's common sense. Even UMass Transit does this, they have a minimum work requirement for students they help get a CDL. Call them and ask...

The larger issue -- Business Management 101 -- private or public sector -- you pay to train your employees because you expect them to remain your employees...

As to obligations for repayment in the event she breached her contract -- which Larry says she did, well it's whatever the contract says, and it is a public document.

Either way, Team Maria have some questions to answer. Either why didn't they protect the fiduciary interests of the district (as is routinely done in contracts) or why aren't they protecting the fiduciary interests of the district by seeking to enforce such language. Which is it?

As to how much money is involved, it's an educated guess -- a guess -- but unless the reporter fabricated the story out of whole clot, Amherst paid S0METHING on the presumption she'd be there for a while...

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like the announcement was made twice and most teachers couldn't be bothered to attend a staff meeting, or get there on time, probably eager to begin that relaxing weekend you all so deserve (so sorry your weekend mood got ruined by the announcement.) It sounds to me like the teaching staff at FR is un-orchestrate-able, not interested in hearing any announcements in the first place. The criticisms and style of harassment from staff and FR parents of this woman are what you did and said about the principal before her, and the principal before her, and so it's beyond the particular person at the helm, there's something in the culture of the place that is contributing to "botched staff meetings", among other profound job dis-satisfactions, in place at the time. It's the insular, negative, gossipy, complaint-ridden teacher culture in public schools that have been allowed to persist for as long as I can recall.

How arrogant and pathetic to expect she needed to "orchestrate" the announcement of a simple staff meeting-which happen all the time and teachers should expect and be prepared for them-around all of your needs and schedules, as you are wrapping up your duties for an early start to the weekend.

And MAKE SURE Monday IS delightful, our kids don't need you bringing your petty discontents into their environment, this isn't about you and how it all suits the teachers, it's still (supposed to be) about the students. A LOT of us are exhausted and demoralized--learn to deal with it or leave.

Anonymous said...

The new principal should set up a new standard at FR: An end of school day staff meeting every day at 3:30: what went well today, what can go better tomorrow, etc., sorry if you think you're going to rush out of here before all the buses are even gone but you're staying for a bit because we have things to talk about, that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

MatthewRud45, don't end it on a cliff hanger, tell us more, please: so, you're cruising at top speed to the central office to complain about the FR principal when the "news breaks"...

What were you going to do and say when you got to the central office? Did you have a meeting scheduled? Who were you going to file a complaint with? What specifically was going to be in your complaint? Were you going to storm into central office?

Sounds like things are at status quo at FR and that there had been lots and lots and lots of talk among staff that included spouses, culminating in you racing to "tell on" a principal, in the middle of a work day. How often do you and your spouse/you, your spouse and other teachers, spend time discussing the performance of town employees that are above you/them on the management spectrum? A little is, maybe, normal. How much goes on at FR?

Did you ever share the concerns, which you were racing to bring to central office, directly with Ms. Finocchio?

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine if Finocchio had announced her departure aqt the end of the school year? It would have ruined all the FR teachers special summer vacation moods and feelings!

I want to hear more about how my kid's teachers "orchestrate" a lesson plan in math, not whether or not they think a grown woman "orchestrated" a staff meeting among a group of professional adults successfully. 0h My God, there are places I've worked where if I pulled "Oh, didn't hear the two announcements about a staff meeting, no one told me, I was wrapping things up before the weekend, orchestrate better": gone in one second.

We need a MANAGER at Fort River at this point, a hard-nosed drill sergeant type. The staff and parents at Fort River chose their last three principals: let us choose the next one and see if things go better in terms of morale, overall "happiness", and good moods to take them into their over-scheduled, rejuvenating vacations.

Anonymous said...

You don't know what you are talking about. There are NO teachers rushing out the door at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Wow! 1:07 you have some hate towards teachers. The morale in this district is very poor. Little to nothing is done to work on mending it. Whether you are of the opinion that all teachers are "negative, gossipy, complaint ridden"or not, a problem exists and it seems to be getting more pervasive. The voices of the FR teachers ring with a tone of "us vs. WW & CF" in terms of how desperate their situation(s) are currently. Every school has significant challenges right now. CF is literally bursting at the seams (if you want to point out class sizes). There aren't enough resources to go around and in terms of equality - many many areas to improve.

I have particular interest in the $$ paid for the doctorate of the departing principal at FR. How can the details of that contract be obtained? When teachers enter into a program supported/offered by the district, they must agree to remain for something like 3-5 years post program completion or pay back the supplemented funds. The district provided such an opportunity a few years ago for a BCBA program and some educators are currently enrolled. Now I am curious about how often this comes up and whether any funds are ever recouped for early departures.

Anonymous said...

Many teachers leave as soon as they are possibly able, and sometimes that's before the end of their contracted work day. Try me.

Anonymous said...

Ha! I could make a short film about teachers in Amherst arriving late and leaving early.

Anonymous said...

Walter Graff said: "Now they'll have another search for a very underqualified person who the administration can keep in line."

Staff chose the last three principals at Fort River, so the question is, how is that working? Stop letting the employees choose their boss, it has not worked out well. We need to choose a principal who can wrangle and keep in line these complaint-prone teachers, there is clearly a negative culture issue going on there.

Anonymous said...

Please remember that the comments on this blog do not represent every aspect of a situation. Those of you making grand assumptions (and clearly have some anger issues toward the school district and might need therapy) need to take a breath. As with most situations in life, things are far more complex and layered than those on the outside (and sometimes those on the inside) realize.

It is shocking that several of you are latching on to one sentence about a 3:30 staff meeting that was given 10 minutes notice and reaching major claims and truths without knowing the whole story. My experience is that the teachers at Fort River and those at other schools in this district are some of the most hard working and dedicated people I have ever encountered. Those few that do leave at 3:30 (to be with their children mostly) are often taking home mountains of work home. I know of teachers buying snow clothes, food, and other things for students without. I know of teachers contributing to college funds of former students - children who might not otherwise have that opportunity. Everyday teachers are buying things for their classrooms and students because their $250 from the district doesn't even come close to covering everything. Teachers are building relationships with students and learning how best to help children who have experienced trauma. Teachers everywhere are expected to jump through hoops that even ten years ago did not exist. School districts have limited the consequences of students who misbehave and expect magic - all on the backs of our educators. Is this town really so anti-teacher?

Some of you sound like you want the teachers to be robots instead of humans who use their talented minds to think for themselves on behalf of your children. I would rather have a teacher who thinks for herself or himself any day!

When my family and I moved here several years ago, we thought this was a wonderful place to live. The longer I am here, the more I realize it is an INSANE place to live. Happy Valley? Me thinks not.

Anonymous said...

Yup, you found it out: an insane place to live. That should be the tag line when we go out searching for new principals, new town managers, a new chamber directors, fresh new businesses, new home buyers...

Y'all are gonna have a lot of searching to do for insane people willing to take these insane jobs in this insane town, in the months to come, and it might be a good time also to look deep within Your Self.

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe that if they start at the head with the superintendent and get rid of her and then work down, The school system would be so much better. What a mess

Anonymous said...

I'm really, really tired of having to listen to, for my entire life, how teachers take home "mountains of work" and buy their children and their classroom's all the things they need, and are constantly kept down by having to have a boss. Bullshit. I've known/encountered literally hundreds of teachers, the ones you describe are very few and very far between. For the great part, teachers are done with work before most of us and do NOT spend their evenings poring over paperwork. It's just an old, cliched, entirely false go-to sentiment to distract us from how little teachers actually have to be there to earn the dollars they do, compared to most of us and our situations. And don't forget, teachers have negotiated many hours per teacher per week during the school day, where they don't even have to be with any students, just planning to be with them. And that doesn't count the time they have to plan during PE, Lunch, Music, Art, Computer, and any other subject they don't actually teach but send their kids out of the class for. Your kids are at school for 32.5 hours per week; how many of those hours does your kid spend with their classroom teacher?

And then on top of that, we're supposed to leave them alone, un-managed, so they can get "creative" about teaching our kids. Do you think that the people you're talking to on here haven't been students in hundreds of teachers' classrooms throughout their entire public school and state college careers, and haven't seen first hand the work ethics and standards of many of our public school teachers? You think we haven't at one time or again been a student in one of the low quality and negative teacher's classrooms? We're supposed to believe they're all super-hard working, in it for the kids, using their paychecks to clothe their students, evenings until midnight correcting papers... do you think we've never made any of our own observations?

Anonymous said...

Wow! Having moved to Amherst from New Jersey 25 years ago I don't recognize the schools you folks are talking about in the present day. My son went to Fort River and had a wonderful experience with a terrific teacher in the 6th grade. And my daughter went through the high school with an enormous selection of courses that were the envy of just about any other school system you could think of. But that was back then. It's really sad to hear the dissatisfaction with how, apparently, the school system has morphed into what a lot of you are calling "a mess." Very sad.

Anonymous said...

"And don't forget, teachers have negotiated many hours per teacher per week during the school day, where they don't even have to be with any students, just planning to be with them. And that doesn't count the time they have to plan during PE, Lunch, Music, Art, Computer, and any other subject they don't actually teach but send their kids out of the class for. Your kids are at school for 32.5 hours per week; how many of those hours does your kid spend with their classroom teacher?"

Elementary teachers get 40 minutes of preparation time (that happens during PE, art, etc.) and a 30 minute lunch per day. So out of 32.5 hours a week, teachers are with the kids 26.7 hours.

Anonymous said...

To say that Amherst teachers are some of the highest paid teachers around is laughable - simply not true.

Anonymous said...

As the spouse of a Fort River employee, I can tell you that there are things that this principle, HR, and the superintendent have done in the past few years that have been swept under the rug. There have been many people that have left quietly instead of the administration admitting that they ignore hostile work inviroments, racist comments, and illegal retaliation. I suspect this principle resigned before she was fired, and so that once again Amherst doesn't have to admit to the negatives at Fort River.

Anonymous said...

Quick search results/comparison of Teacher Contracts in the area for 2015/16 school year. Amherst falls in lower 5 of 15 districts with Holyoke and Chicopee data from 2013-14 so likely changed or increased. Ranked highest to lowest salary scale for base salary Bachelor's and Master's Degrees.

1. Ware BA/44,392 MA/47,051
2.South Hadley BA/43,890. MA/47,284
3. Westhampton BA/43,201 MA/46,373
4. W. Springfield BA/42,543 MA/45,854
5. Chicopee BA/42,046 MA/44,777
6. Southampton BA/41,790 MA/46,358
7. Easthampton BA/41,697 MA/45,866 (must have friends in East Longmeadow exact same scale)
8. E. Longmeadow BA/41,697 MA/45,866
9. Union 38 BA/41,226 MA/43,840
10. Hadley BA/39,867 MA/45,037 (although BA is $965 less than Amherst the MA gets $1284 more than Amherst)
11. Amherst BA/40,841 MA/43,753
12. Northampton BA/39,432 MA/42,591
13. Belchertown BA/39,236 MA/42,357
14. Holyoke BA/39,413 MA/41,042
15. Granby BA/38,997 MA/41,608

So for all the teacher bashers ranting about the ridiculously high pay rate of teachers in Amherst - a little reality check- Amherst falls in the average range. Sorry to dampen your hate parade.

Anonymous said...

Here's a reality check on teacher salaries in Amherst, as many of them make far more than the base starting salaries cited in the last comment.

According to the MA DOE web site:
average teacher salaries (2014):
in Amherst elementary schools: $70,462
in MS & HS: $79,282

average teacher salary statewide: $73,908

Amherst teachers aren't doing so badly on the salary front. I know teachers in other W Mass districts who would love to make as much as Amherst teachers do.

Anonymous said...

20 years ago, a top-of-the-scale teacher would retire at $35K after 30+ years.
The teachers today are paid nearly three times that! Are they three tines better than the teachers we had in the 1980's & 1990's?

Enough said?

Anonymous said...

That's funny "Enough said " and again untrue. 20 years ago I started working in another W. Mass district as a 1st year teacher and made $29K with a Master's. I admit I was paid more than I would've had I been working on step 1 in Amherst. However it certainly was not so close, as you suggest, to what someone with 30 years into Amherst would've been making during the same time period- 20 years ago. Furthermore, does anything else cost the same as it did 20 years ago? Oh right! Didn't think so. You seem to have a selective reality.

Anon 8:56 Thanks for making my point. Amherst teachers are paid in the average range. Many teachers in W Mass do make as much or more than Amherst teachers do. The base salary example was just for comparison sake. Salary scales typically increase with years of service and level of credentials so the amounts listed are the minimum. Makes sense that, when a district is able to retain staff for extended years or hires teachers with advanced degrees, the average of that district's salaries increases.

Dr. Ed said...

What people need to remember is that teacher pay has the quoted "base" salary, and then annual "step" increases above it. Hence almost no one only is paid the base, most make more.

Case in point, Caroline Gardner -- memory is she had three years teaching experience in 'Hamp, hence she started in Amherst at step 4.

Anonymous said...

haven't seen anything in the print media yet about this story...
when will they catch up?

Thanks Mr. Kelley for being the best source for the latest Amherst news.

Larry Kelley said...

You're welcome.

And it's getting more traffic than any story over the past 30 days (including the Charter win).

Anonymous said...

Crazy teacher and Fort River bashing! I went to Fort River (early 80's!). Absolutely loved it. Had some great teachers, including Mr. Wallace, Mr. McNiven, Mrs Ware. But not sure why we would bash the teachers or their salaries. 40k is a high salary??? You can't even afford to live in Amherst at that rate.

Reality: Fort River building is decaying and there is a lack in investment to maintain it, obviously reflecting the district preference for the mega-school.

Teachers: High turnover at the principal-level of leadership is negatively impacting.

Bad overall situation that needs to be addressed. Not sure throwing the teachers under the bus (couldn't resist) helps in anyway. Maybe focusing on how to fix the problem would be more productive and interesting (expect for the trolls).

Anonymous said...

The district & its Media and Climate Communications Specialist, Carol Ross, has been robo-calling, emailing, and doing other promotion ( its Spring Festival of Films for Humanity.

Seeing all this attention paid and money spent to promote community dialogue and "advance social literacy," I can't help but wonder if district resources would be better spent on the urgent issues facing our school now, including:
* the continuing increase in Amherst children opting out of Amherst schools, for charter school, choice, or other options; and
* the turnover of administrators (how many principals has Fort River had in the past 5 years?) and loss of other staff, including teachers and staff of color, whom the district works hard to recruit.

In these tight budget times, when teacher and staff positions continue to be cut, is the Media and Climate Communications Specialist position really a necessity?

Anonymous said...

how many districts have a "Media and Climate Communications Specialist"?

Anonymous said...

What is the point of the exchange about teacher salaries? Is it:

Teachers are paid too much and should be paid less.
Teachers are paid so much that they should not be concerned with their working conditions.
Teaching is easy and they actually have fantastic working conditions, of which I am certain.
Most teachers are bad and not worth the money they are paid, of which I am certain.

Dr. Ed said...

‘When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children.’ 

-- Al Shanker, AFT

The Amherst contract is at

"and will move through the steps at the rate of one (1) step per year in each succeeding year"



Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11















Dr. Ed said...

Contract also specifies a SEVEN hour day.

Anonymous said...

It is always fascinating to me that the folks posting on this blog have no clue that administration might leave, in large part, because of them (the posters) as individuals and their collective hate filled mentality, unrealistic expectations (from one end of the spectrum to the other) and that held in the community. This is not a warm, welcoming community; there are pockets of amazing people but the hate mongers fill up all the space and drain energies so quickly.

Unless you have been a teacher, please refrain from making comments about hours, effort, and personal expenditures. There may be some teachers who are in it for a paycheck and want out the door so badly that they should just resign. However, the large majority of teachers in our schools are in it for our children!

For those who have been around for a long time, please remember that Wildwood went through a large number of administrators before Nick Yaffe took over and stabilized the leadership. Crocker Farm had a similar experience. Fort River is feeling its pains but staff should not position themselves as the "woe is me" ones - don't recall them stepping up to help the other schools get stabilized.

At the end of the day, this is not a them versus me conversation - this is a community conversation about how to we work together instead of how do we continue to divide and spew hate.

Dr. Ed said...

"Unless you have been a teacher, please refrain from making comments

I have been. I also am a FOURTH GENERATION TEACHER, I know what this profession used to be, and how little we used to be paid.

I also have all the credentials, and to those who say they are meaningless, (a) I might be inclined to agree with you BUT (b) I at least have them and thus have the legitimacy of one who does. And if they are meaningless, why have five different pay scales, why should the taxpayers pay more for those who have these "meaningless" degrees?

Above and beyond this, we live in a country where everyone is presumed equal. Otherwise, why do we have juries???

"At the end of the day, this is not a them versus me conversation - this is a community conversation about how to we work together instead of how do we continue to divide and spew hate."

Yes, General Westmoreland.

In an earlier age (i.e. the 1960's), the military said pretty much the same thing that my profession is saying now -- give us your money & your children and shut up because we are the experts and you are ignorant.

Well, there were logical fallacies then -- and now -- in that argument.

I care about education, and if that makes me a hater, I'm proud to be one.

And call me names, it makes what The Short Lobster Company is going to be doing in a few years acceptable -- can you say "privatization" of public schools?

Nina Koch said...

to 3:15 pm-- well said.

Anonymous said...

You're not a hater Ed. You're a fool.

Anonymous said...

My father started teaching high school math in 1937. He made $3000 that year. I started teaching jr. High in 1980 at $11K. I left the profession when I hit the top of the ladder 8 years later @ $19K. These salaries seem huge to me. I had to go into the private sector to make those bucks.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!

Anonymous said...

All of the above.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't just stop reading these blogs or whatever they are?

Anonymous said...

Who do u think you are to tell anyone to refrain from making comments? Oh! Lemme guess: a libtard.

Dr. Ed said...

And the tenured layabouts call me a "fook."

I call them "Parasites."

Anonymous said...

"Unless you have been a teacher, please refrain from making comments about hours, effort, and personal expenditures.

Fine, if you can get your cohorts and their families who have never been admins, to stop commenting anonymously on administrators and their families and what that entails, the teachers will receive a reprieve. Until then, Welcome to the Terrordome. This IS an us vs. them conversation. And it will get really bad. WAY too late to ask for civility toward the teachers now, and to come out NOW, after all these years, saying "let's get together." Go back to remaining silent when community members get publicly savaged, especially if you've never been an admin in this town.

Anonymous said...

Pity the poor underpaid administrators.

Anonymous said...

1. Ft. River is the school that houses Building Blocks, a name misleading in that this program 'teaches' exceptional children--ones they often restrain and keep isolated from their peers. I believe the APD was just there a few hours ago to help keep peace with one if its students. 2. The air quality in that building is a bit less than lethal--years back their gym teacher wound up nearly on her deathbed. No one has done a thing to improve this--so you can just imagine the harm from inhaling this toxic air--for what 7, 8, 9 hours a day has on any living soul?! 3. Kudos to the principal--I hope she gets her doctorate-She was very brave to stick it out as long as did.