Saturday, December 3, 2016

High Stakes Gamble

Amherst could apply to MSBA for Fort River Mega-School as soon as next month

The town already heard back from the Mass School Building Authority and as expected they rejected the idea of twin grades K-6 schools vs the just defeated concept of twin grades 2-6 schools as being a slight enough tweak to keep the current overall $67 million Mega School building plan in play.



For the past six months we've heard nothing but how extraordinarily bureaucratic the MSBA is, and that every i must be double dotted and every t double crossed.

Of course the only thing town/school officials really wanted is the extension from February 2 until March 31st to have another attempt at brow beating Amherst Town Meeting into giving it the two-thirds super majority it requires to pass.

 Town Meeting voted down Mega School 108-106

Considering it failed to even garner a simple majority last month, a Herculean task indeed no matter how much time the state gives them to lobby.

But that will not stop the Select Board from trying one last time to ram it through.

Considering how often they played the role of General Custer this past session with ALL of their unanimously supported major articles being shot down by Town Meeting, they better wear arrow proof shirts at that Special Town Meeting.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Arrowproof shirts" BwaaaaaHaaHaHaHaaaaaa!!!!

Anonymous said...

"as expected they rejected the idea of twin grades K-6 schools"

What was the point of the "NOs" refrain of "we'd have supported K-6 schools!" if it wasn't even a viable option?

May as well have said "we'd have supported a plan that included unicorn rides to school for all students!"

Anonymous said...

The SASS folks knew we could not change to a k6 option the whole time. They fed town meeting a constant diet of falsehoods and misinformation.

Anonymous said...

Now maybe town meeting will be ready to hear some truth.

Anonymous said...

The fact is we will be, most likely based on comparable towns in the same situation, waiting over a decade to have a school built. Hopkinton did it in 7 years but that is the only example where a rejected vote was turned around rather rapidly. The SASS folks can lie all they want but those are the facts. You are voting to have the children of this community and the employees of this town work and learn in dismal conditions while we wait for the perfect plan to come along.

Anonymous said...

read through the document and YES (1) The design is truly ugly and (2) it seems unduly expensive compared to other recently build schools BUT the main and overriding criticism of the project, that Ms Geryk and her cohorts, refused to accept was/is that many Amherst community members want k-6 schools (and Ms Geryk did not have much confidence in he judgement from the community).

Larry Kelley said...

Which is why the same clueless School Committee voted her a $300K platinum parachute.

Dr. Ed said...

Let me see if I understand -- the Fort River site is so swampy and so near busy roads that it is unsuitable for an elementary school, hence the need for the MegaSkool at the Wildwood site.

And now they want to build the MegaSkool at Fort River?

Ummmmm......

Anonymous said...

DeJaVu time...union boosters got to do those redundant meetings when seniors-property owners-or any real taxpayer or people affected cannot attend-like graveyard shift....just Say'n. !!!???$&@

Anonymous said...

No one wants to build a school at Fort River. Of any size.

Anonymous said...

If the two colocated schools are not approved by town meeting the kids will spend a minimum of another 12 years in schools that should have been replaced long ago.
Way to go SASS! Way to go Town Meeting! I'm disgusted.

Anonymous said...

Town Meeting soundly rejected the school project and the Select Board should respect the judgement of Town Meeting members. Let the school committee and acting superintendent figure out next steps. They can continue to create anger and tension, blame anyone who disagrees with them as wrong and come back to Town Meeting for another fight, or reflect on their own missteps, work to fix the problems with our schools--and start working with parents and teachers. Not working with parents and teachers led to the administration leaving $33 million on state funding on the table.

Anonymous said...

The teachers want the new schools. They don't want to wait over a decade.

Anonymous said...

Most of the teachers are NOT taxpayers in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Thanks SASS and Town Meeting for prohibiting progress as you sit back and wait to be delivered a perfect plan that's "acceptable" to you.

Perhaps the town has outgrown you?

Anonymous said...

Where are the SASS people to tell us about the reasons we are all wrong and our teachers and students should wait another decade for new schools? Anyone? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

While the SASS leader Quilter sends her child to private school. I'm sure that child has classrooms with walls. But 2/3rds of the children of anherst are now doomed to classrooms without walls for another decade or more.

Rick Hood said...

Applying for Fort River does not mean one builds the new school at the Fort River property. Just shows how Mr Ed is not paying attention. It's not the swampiness that makes FR property unbuildable - you can deal with that in many ways - it's that there is a 100 year floodplain that comes very close to the back of the current building that you cannot build anything on, thus the actual build-able space there is much less than it looks. Again anyone paying attention to this would know, but ignorance is in fashion today.

Anonymous said...

Perhpas privatization would be beneficial. Surely the private sector would do it for less than 20k per student and you would not have to provide financing...contract to only pay if students do better than they do now. There will be companies that will bite. It is like paying for slaves that come off the ship vs. Those that get on. This was the idea of a preist which resulted in close to 100% survival vs. 50 to 75%.

But let us be real, lots of employees want better working wnvironments, all they have to do is find new work or start their own company...or they are better accepting what they get. They are not plants, they can move...but they may not have the skills to do so...perhaps a better education could help them become a specialty product va. A commodity.

Anonymous said...

SASS and Town Meeting are not the only ones saying no!

Anonymous said...

Surveys done by the building committee found that parents and teachers did not support this plan. Where is the proof that this has changed?
Plan went forward with little support from the start!
.

Anonymous said...

Majority of teachers at each of the schools has singned on supporting this plan. Stop listening to SASS lies.

Anonymous said...

Over 50 staff per school.

Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know how many of the teachers that "signed on supporting this plan" live and pay property taxes in Amherst and have kids in the schools.

If they live elsewhere and the question posed to them was, "do you want a new school?" then I would imagine it would be pretty easy to say yes, possibly without fully weighing the pros and cons of the current proposal.

I would give more weight to the opinions of teachers who live in Amherst and pay the taxes and their kids go to these three schools. How many of them think the grade reconfiguration plan is better than retaining a K-6 model (either in 3 schools or by reducing to 2)?

One of the problems we face in finding out this information is that I believe there is immense pressure on teachers to agree with the Superintendent and Principal and support the current proposal.

Anonymous said...

The agenda for tomorrow's Regional School Committee and Union 26 meeting says the meeting will be held almost completely in Executive Session. The only agenda item is
"Adjourn to Executive Session 6:01 p.m.
REGIONAL MOTION: Move to adjourn to Executive Session according to MGL30A, Section 21(2) to conduct contract negotiations with nonunion personnel(Interim Superintendent) and Section 21(3) to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the public body and the Chair so declares."

Since Mike Morris has already been appointed Interim Superintendent, I wonder what's next.

Anonymous said...

Set his salary.

Anonymous said...

I very much hope that Mr Morris' salary is not set anywhere near Ms Geryk's. He has no previous experience as a SI, just one consideration, while Ms Geryk's salary was based on her years as a SI. But you never know with this committee....

Anonymous said...

Typical, move the goalposts when you don't hear what you want. We have been bludgeoned with the fact that teachers don't support this with zero caveats like if they live in district but now that is pertinent to their opinion which has been devalued because they do t agree with your position?

For what it is worth, I teach in the schools and have kids in the schools and am totally behind the new building.

Anonymous said...

People may want to look at the parent teacher survey from January 2016 to see the results and comments by parents and teachers. For some reason, I can't find this on the ARPS website. Hopefully, the district will respond, at some point, to my 3 - 4 requests that they do so. Patience is a virtue.

Anyway, here are the links:

The School Committee commissioned McBassi & Co. to survey parents & teachers. Results are summarized here: https://wildwoodpgo.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/2015jan-schoolsurvey-results.pdf

The parent comments are posted here: https://wildwoodpgo.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/2015jan-schoolsurvey-parentcomments.pdf

The teacher comments are posted here: https://wildwoodpgo.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/2015jan-schoolsurvey-teachercomments.pdf

These results were presented at the joint School Committee / School Building Committee meeting on January 13, 2016. The minutes of that meeting are here -- http://www.arps.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_926729/File/ASCminutes1.13.164pm.pdf -- and for some reason this meeting is not listed on the Amherst Media website.

Janet McGowan

Drooling overboard with Cap'n Hood said...

"Again anyone paying attention to this would know, but ignorance is in fashion today."




Shameless Rick Hood.



Our own


village


idiot.



-Squeaky Squeaks


p.s. Fits right the F in tho. Right --- the --- ~EFF~ --- innnn...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where the survey that went around last week is currently but I have little doubt it will be made public. At my school 70 teachers and staff signed. That could be labeled the vast majority.

Janet, as a staff member of one of the elementary schools, I filled out the survey you linked At that time I put k-6 as my preference. I then listened to the arguments of the school committee and the superintendent and have changed my mind like many many of my colleagues. Please stop referencing a document that was filled out my less than half of the staff at the schools as some statement about what teachers think. It might have been at the time but that was a year ago.

Nina Koch said...

Squeaky, what is the origin of your ongoing fascination with Rick Hood?

Anonymous said...

So, Rick, how'bout build in the FR parking areas outside the 100yr floodplain, then expand the playground areas in back, and relocate some parking there too?

Anonymous said...

"Squeaky, what is the origin of your ongoing fascination with Rick Hood?"



History.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcSfz_TJpsY



-Squeaky Squeaks

Anonymous said...

Let's get this straight. There is little pedogodical data that supports the model proposed by Ms. Geryk. (1) Yes, quality early ed is vital but that can be delivered in a K-6 +preK model. (2) the curricular alignment that seems to still be lacking in places may or may NOT improve under the proposed model. (3) the equity issue can also be addressed outside the proposed model (equity does NOT require identical). In the absence of a strong pedogical rationale, I really don't care that some teachers support the reconfiguration. This an Amherst community wide decision, if residents want k-6 schools, that is what the SI (who worked for the community) should have strived to find a solution for...imo.

Dr. Ed said...

"Yes, quality early ed is vital"

Ummm, the research does NOT show that.

There is a whole lot of data indicating that the perceived advantage has disappeared by second or third grade and when you adjust for a lot of things including parental support of the child's education (which IS a BIG factor), early ed is irrelevant.

The real issue with early ed is the free babysitting, but we can't say that.

"I'm not sure where the survey that went around last week is currently but I have little doubt it will be made public. At my school 70 teachers and staff signed. That could be labeled the vast majority."

I'm surprised that all the teachers haven't signed -- kinda like how everyone
(who was smart) voted for Fidel Castro in Cuba's elections.

In K-12, it isn't wise to antagonize your principal and superintendent...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if they submitted the 2-6 plan because they thought it had the best chance of winning the grant?

Anonymous said...

"I would be interested to know how many of the teachers that 'signed on supporting this plan' live and pay property taxes in Amherst and have kids in the schools."

But that wasn't a concern of yours when you thought that teachers DIDN'T support the plan? Disingenuous!

In response to Janet McGowan: "Please stop referencing a document that was filled out by less than half of the staff at the schools as some statement about what teachers think."

Funny (not!) how we'll use the data that fits our purpose, without really caring about the real truth.

And Larry, you, in particular, are the most disingenuous of all in your championing of this flawed TM decision while railing against the institution itself as a meaningful body for decision making to begin with. I guess I was mistaken to think better of you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:17, moving the goalposts again Ms. Quilter? The teachers have been referenced again and again as not in support of the project by SASS. That seemed to be one of the major reasons to vote against it. Now that they disagree with you, their opinion doesn't matter. This post-truth thing keeps on popping up.

No pedagogical reason? You might disagree with the reasons but to claim there aren't any is at best uninformed.

Anonymous said...

anon@9:58: anon at 7:17 is Not Ms Quilter, just a regular Amherst citizen, not even associated w SASS. One who values our K-6 schools as glue that brings our community together (this would be entirely lost upon reconfiguration- sometimes I wonder if that's what Ms Geryk wanted...)

Anonymous said...

anon@9:58 Ms Geryk might have offered pedagogical reasons but there are very little valid data supporting them (either for or against).

Anonymous said...

People--I was adding links to the survey to add some facts to the discussion, not taking a position. It is pretty weird that this survey is so hard to find on the ARPS website. I never could find it and never have had a response to my request that it be added to the ARPS website. The survey was paid for by the district and should be part of the record.

Janet McGowan

Anonymous said...

The administration. School committee and building committee should have made sure the town would support their expensive and controversial plan long before November.
In addition... Our interim superintendent has been too involved in the process-
He needs to heed to the desires of the town he works for ( accept that many in town do not agree with him and his committees)

Anonymous said...

Too involved with the process? That's his job! Wow what planet do you people come from?

Anonymous said...

Is it typical for the Superintendent to also be the Chair of the School Building Committee? If yes, then I guess it is his job to be so involved with the process.
Here is the list of building committee members.
http://www.arps.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_926729/File/WW%20Building%20Docs/Building%20Committee%20Member%20List%205.2015.pdf
It looks like all but 3 are current or former town or school employees or school committee members. Is that typical? Perhaps if there had been more community members on the committee that were not also town or school employees, there may have been a different recommended building plan.

Nina Koch said...

When Ron Bell was Assistant Superintendent for ARPS, he always shepherded the building projects and he did a wonderful job.

I think it is typical for a superintendent or assistant superintendent to be on the building committee. Here's Easthampton, just as an example:

Easthampton School Building Committee

Note that it includes Nancy Follansbee, who is Superintendent in that town. That's just one example, but I think it is typical.

Nina Koch said...

Update-- I just checked the MSBA website and it's actually expected to have the Superintendent on the building committee. Here's a list of the members they expect:

SBC member who is MCPPO certified*
Local Chief Executive Officer
Administrator or Manager **
School CommitteeMember(minimum of one)
Superintendent of Schools
Local Official responsible for Building Maintenance
Representative of Office authorized by law to construct school buildings
School Principal
Member knowledgeable in educational mission and function of facility
Local budget official or member of local finance Committee
Members of community with architecture, engineering and/or construction experience
Other: Please provide brief background info/expertise

Anonymous said...

Did you even read any of the above comments, Janet?