Monday, January 31, 2011

Homework Assignment

Your Assignment:      Update your SOI’s (statement of interest) for both Williams Middle School and Glenbrook Middle School
Assignment Due
Date:                                   January 26, 2011

This assignment given in late November of 2010 seems simple enough, doesn’t it?  Certainly one would think so, especially for our educated School Superintendent, School Principals and School Committee.

With tongue in check I say that too much time was given to complete the assignment – or more aptly put, too little time was spent doing it.  This assignment was to have been done by the school superintendent (who by the way receives $155,000 a year which is 25% more in wages than our previous) and we have heard the so-called excuse that she admitted to the error of putting off the SOI when it should have been done sooner.  Big deal.

The assignment for the school superintendent was simple – just update the SOI  for each school, submit to both the select board and the school committee for their approval and  then submit to the MSBA.  What went wrong?

No matter who was delegated to do the work, the ultimate responsibility lies with the school superintendent.  When there is a plethora of errors both in the accuracy of the content and actual typing of written documents, it means no one read the finished product.  How can Geoff Weigand then state, “The school committee vetted this?”  Witness the combined meeting of the select board and school committee on January 24th for actual comments (when you watch it, it is almost a joke if it weren’t for the fact that these people represent us).  In fact, there were so many errors that were evident without extensive critique, that an emergency meeting was scheduled for 1/25/11.  Low and behold – again – errors were found and I don’t mean a simple “typo” that certainly can happen in 50+ pages of typing; I mean critical numbers that weren’t the same throughout the document.  For example, on the review of the documents on the 25th, the school enrollment figure in one place was 356 and in another was 386.  Frankly, this is sloppy, sloppy, sloppy when those in the meeting room had just been told that the principals of the schools, Mr. Phaneuf, Mr. Wrable, and the School Superintendent and the school committee had all reviewed the documents.  Doesn’t anyone know what the true enrollment is?  What is wrong with this picture?

Mr. Wrable and Mr. Phaneuf are not academics and therefore can only be held responsible for the information that they provided not the actual documents themselves.  However, the principals and the school superintendent as well as any school committee members who had access to these reports prior to their presentation, should have insisted on the accuracy and validity of these documents … I only wonder why Armand Wray and Geoff Weigand defended the superintendent so vehemently.  When the select board members during the meeting of the 24th wanted an emergency meeting so that they could again have an opportunity to read the again-altered documents, Geoff Weigand stated, “Vote your conscience.  Stand up in front of people and stand behind it.  I’m sick and tired of the back channel stuff that’s going on and it needs to stop and you know who I’m talking about.”  And then he stormed away from the microphone. 

What does a statement like that mean? What is back channeling? I don’t know what Mr. Weigand is talking about but now I want to … in fact, it is his statement that piques my interest the most.  Could it be the reason the SOI’s weren’t completed correctly?   I applaud Jennifer Jester and Gwen Bruns for their noted displeasure with the documents presented on the 25th.  The only excuse not given  during this 2-day soiree for the acceptance of the SOI’s is “the dog ate my assignment.”  Since we are dealing with education, what example does this show our children?  If your child passed in an assignment with erroneous facts and numerous errors – what would their fate be?  Would they pass or fail?

With that being said, the superintendent’s performance or lack thereof, warrants a written reprimand in her employee file.

Respectfully submitted,

Diane B. Nadeau
Longmeadow, MA