Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Southbridge School Committee Reconstituted – Moves Aggressively for Change - Ely's Contract Extended


The Southbridge School Committee held its reorganizational meeting tonight following the June 26th town elections.

Committee member Scott Lazo was excused from the meeting.

Patricia Woodruff was elected as committee chairman and Mary Ellen Prencipe was elected as vice chairman.


The committee also eliminated the collective bargaining subcommittee. Preference regarding the latter seemed to lean toward a negotiating panel consisting of a member of the school committee, the school superintendent, the school business manager and, when appropriate, a legal advisor. It established a new subcommittee on Communication and Family Engagement to facilitate community wide communication and enhance citizen participation in school affairs.


Following the end of the reorganization meeting the committee entered its regular meeting after a ten minute recess.

In the most significant move of the evening the committee entered executive session to negotiate a contract extension with school superintendent Eric Ely. Following the executive session the committee voted to accept a two year extension to Mr. Ely’s current contract with provisions for salary and benefit escalators.

17 comments:

  1. Great first meeting by the new school committee.They took bold action and brought stability to the district by extending Mr.Ely's contract.Now he can concentrate on doing whats best for the district including the new SHS/ Middle school.

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    1. I haven't seen mr.EIy look this relaxed in many months I'm happy for him!!!

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    2. I wonder if BeeBee is as relaxed.

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    3. If I were BB I wouldn't be relaxed!!!

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  2. Confidence is being restored! Mr. Ely, please now do your job without fear. I know you can do it!! Let's get this bad reputation out of here and clean up the mess from JJ, SL, TD, TO.

    Great first meeting Lauren and Kara! Can't wait to see what this revised committee can accomplish. I certainly am excited about the prospects.

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  3. Congratulations to Kara and Lauren on their first meeting and jumping right in there. Congratulations again Pat on being voted in as Chair and Mary Ellen for Vice-Chair and Eric Ely on your two year extension. Hopefully this new change will gain momentum and together they all will greatly improve the School District and the image the community has of it and the School Committee.

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  4. When is BB coming back from Coco Beach, I'm sure he's interested in knowing who the new school committee leadership is!!

    Alex

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    1. I'm sure he was given a blow by blow during the entire meeting.

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  5. Clearly, qualities such as integrity, perseverance, faith, ability to plan, vision, initiative and courage were demonstrated by both the "Newly Elected Members & Leadership". Bravo!

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  6. Well I know that its time for the Lazo's to move on. They should be proud of what they accomplish over the last few year. Good luck Scott and Steve and enjoy life.

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  7. I would like the opportunity to intrude on this largely one sided blog to express several alternative opinions/interpretations regarding the new Southbridge School Committee (SC). First, Mr. Jack Jovan’s presence on the SC will be sorely missed. This is especially in light of the lack of professionalism and actual commitment to the Town of Southbridge that the new leadership has expressed already. As much as this leadership has complained and expressed their disgust with the previous majority (I believe many had referred to them as the FAB4), for supposedly running over the other SC members, this new crew demonstrated last night why the 2 remaining members of the previous minority were in fact in the minority on many issues. It was very clear that strategic alliances were made with certain individuals in the school department and in particular the SEA and the superintendent.

    Voting blindly to extend the contract of the superintendent for another 2 years without first reviewing his evaluation was again completely unprofessional and irresponsible. This is especially dubious in light of the fact that Mr. Ely has been actively looking for a new job since he got here and there is little tangible evidence to date of good performance on his part, let alone his commitment to Southbridge. The schools are still underperforming after 2 years of his tenure and student achievement has not improved.

    The move to disband the collective bargaining subcommittee in favor of nothing in replacement serves only now to force the whole school committee to be engaged in the negotiation process. If the vice chair’s motion to have a negotiating panel of experts were to have passed, at least there would be something. The fact that this was proposed to include the superintendent and the business manager is additionally amusing. When it comes to their contracts, are they supposed to negotiate with themselves; then propose to the whole SC what they want? Anyone would like that deal. One of the major responsibilities of the SC is to act as a check and balance to weigh the true needs of the staff and administration against their wants (which will always be the moon) with the available resources. It seems that this new board is happy to just back and let “experts” just tell them what to do and then they just do it without any type of analysis or fiscal control. We had this kind of debacle before when the “experts” said we needed an alternative school and we wound up with a $3 million overrun resulting in the loss of 60+ teachers. Experts in any field will always tell you that the reason things are not going as well as you would expect is because they need more resources, even if they don’t. It is human nature to build an empire. I can see that this new majority will now most likely take their hands off the wheel and vote to approve what anyone wants. I’m sure many SEA members are happy with the outcome, but as a parent and resident of Southbridge, the downward spiral looks so severe, my knuckles are already white.

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    1. You sound like you lost the election yourself.

      ..."will be sorely missed"... Not by the majority. Sianara.

      "voting blindly to extend the contract of the superintendent for 2 years without evaluation"... How do you know?

      "forced to be in the negotiation process"... Insurance adjusters don't negotiate either. But too bad for you that union law already protects collective bargaining in this state. And oh I feel so bad for the remaining flab3 who—oh my—have to actually do their jobs. The horror!

      "...amusing fact"... Well the superintendent and business manager aren't part of the union, so they don't get to negotiate with themselves. Dumb comment.

      There is plenty more to criticize in your post, but my own post is becoming too long.

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  8. Did anybody see what I saw last night at the School Committee meeting? If you can call it a SC meeting at all... more like a hen house! Was adopting Robert's rules of order supposed to be some kind of a bad joke?? Even after many, many years on this board the new chair has no clue about the parliamentary procedure and neither does the new vice-chair. A true farmer's market.
    If this is an indication of things to come, I'm moving.

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    1. @Anonymous 9:07 PM

      Don't let the door of Southbridge hit you in your ass on your way out!

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    2. Here here! The lack of knowledge of the Chair and Vice-Chair for the procedure that they have been part of for so long is making me wonder about their lack of knowledge of really important issues. Wait, did their not prove that as well by eliminating collective bargaining sub-committee and installing one on community outreach. Which while a noble effort and activity of the SC, is it really part of "official" SC business. Shouldn't the superintendent's office be driving this activity? or SC members can hold their own forums for public input.

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  9. What an amazing litany of Anonymous vitriol from the losing side in the school committee election! Sore losers all.

    Some of what you have written is flat out contrary to fact. A good example of that is the suggestion that it was proposed to disband the Negotiations sub-committee. What Mrs. Principe was politely suggesting is that Negotiations should be conducted with a proper decorum, something that many have stated has not been the case. Assertion of power is not a good tactic. The person who was shocked that the Superintendent or the Business manager should be part of the Negotiation team clearly knows nothing about negotiations. Superintendents are routinely part of that team.

    As to the acceptance of Robert's Rules of Order, that is routinely done at the re-organizational meeting. If you wish to see how Robert's Rules has been abused, you can read some of the blog entries I wrote about that if you wish.

    I have been critical of Superintendent Ely's perpetual job quests; however, it is also clear that he has been hamstrung by a power-hungry group who have insisted on their way through cronyism and favoritism. The schools have suffered immeasurably because of this. Of course, the Committee provides oversight, but no one on the Committee knows what works and what does not work in education better than the person we hire to lead our schools.

    Mr. Ely deserves the chance to show us what he has got without the sword of Damocles hanging over his head. As to the suggestion that the schools have not improved during his tenure so far, you can thank the gang who substituted their wisdom for his.

    The school system is the life-blood of our community, and its success is our success. The naysayers seem to wish for the failure of our new school committee. What a shame.

    I will continue to write about the schools, and I will be critical when criticism is called for. In the meantime I will be rooting for them because I care about the town of Southbridge.

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    1. Here, Here Brent... I would rather see the Superintendent and Business Manager handling the negotiations and then present the proposal to the SC for a vote of approval.
      I also agree with giving Ely a chance to prove himself without being strong armed by the SC.
      I say have a open mind with the newly formed SC, let's wait and see how they do with improving the District. Funny how people can start complaining with only one meeting which was a re-organizational meeting. I say to the complainers "don't complain unless you are will to get involve (go to meetings and voice yourself during public input) and "If you think you can do a better job then pull papers next year and run".

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