I have refrained from expressing an opinion on the recent developments on the Southbridge school committee.
To date I have attempted to play the part of an impartial referee reporting the developments as fairly as I could.
In large measure this has been influenced by the fact that I have no children and I didn’t feel that I was entitled to speak about matters in which I do not have a personal stake.
To a lesser, but nonetheless significant degree, I have also been reluctant because two of the primary players on opposing sides are close personal friends. This latter fact is not a legitimate reason for not speaking out, and to some degree I am not proud of the fact that it has impeded my willingness to express an opinion.
However, I believe that matters have reached a point that are totally toxic to what should be a major cause of celebration and hope for the future.
An election was held. The voters spoke. They clearly wanted to endorse different leadership for the school committee.
The last several meetings have devolved into a savage display of the kind of personal agendas that have for too long characterized the underlying nature of Southbridge politics.
In the process we have gotten to a point that, I believe, is exemplified in the caricature above.
The current minority on the school committee has refused to accept that they no longer have the influence they wielded when they were part of the majority.
They have lashed out at the current Superintendent, even though they were ultimately the deciding factor in his selection.
The effort at the last meeting to remove him was doomed to failure given that the current majority at the prior meeting had voted to extend his contract.
To continue this confrontational conduct will only serve to undermine a truly wonderful accomplishment.
It will cast a pall over the opening of a new school that is a credit to all of the past school committee members, school building committee members and administrators whose diligent efforts over the past have brought this dream to fruition.
As I’ve written previously, when you hire a manager (i.e. school superintendent) you invest him with both the authority and responsibility to make management decisions. The fact that you may disagree with those decisions is hardly sufficient grounds for seeking his dismissal. Rather, such a decision requires a reasonable evaluation of the results of those decisions. A framework exists (or should exist) for that to be done within an appropriate time frame. It is not a matter decided in the time accorded to evaluating the worth of a lottery scratch ticket.
I sincerely hope that the minority members of the school committee will reign in their rhetoric, behavior and obstructionism for the good of the students, the faculty and the community. Thus far, in my opinion, it has had a damaging effect on all of those stakeholders as well as public’s regard for those members of the committee.