Saturday, March 29, 2014

What A Difference A Year Makes

Ken O’Brien

Last Tuesday’s meeting of the Southbridge School Committee has shattered all records for a Southbridge Cable TV production.

As I write this, it has received over 300 views. (I’m not referring to my blog post, I mean the YouTube video stats.)  Keep in mind that this is a video that runs over three hours. Also consider that the prior record holder had a little over 100 views and that the average school committee or town council video gets around 25 viewers.

Obviously there was more at issue than the presentation of the FY 2015 Budget by the Superintendent.

Much attention has been focused on the disgraceful treatment of the representatives of the school district’s guidance department.

I, as well as many others, have come to the conclusion that this was a willful ambush designed to set the stage for a less than stellar presentation by the Superintendent.

The timeline speaks for itself.

The presentation appeared on the meeting’s agenda which was set the Thursday before the meeting. That agenda was posted on this blog the next day. However, according to multiple sources, the guidance department personnel who made the presentation were only informed of that duty after lunch the day of the presentation.

Further compounding the belief that this was a pre-meditated ambush designed to humiliate the guidance staff were the questions posed by a “stroke prone” school committee member. Is there any doubt that these were prepared in advance of this meeting?

But what most have overlooked is that this disgraceful psychodrama was merely prologue. It set the stage for a budget presentation that was not merely sub-standard, but that justified itself by blaming a year of dismal chaos on everyone but those in charge.

A year ago, the new Superintendent addressed his budget message to an overly credulous school committee that anticipated his messianic rescue based upon what now appears to be an inflated reputation.

This year the tables were turned, literally. The presentation that was directed to the school committee a year ago was directed to the audience this year.

With a sycophantic school committee that has squelched all dissent, and set the stage, sitting in the background the Superintendent addressed the public and virtually demanded his budget mandates be met. This constituted a second alternative to preserve his mythologized legacy.

I have alluded to the first alternative elsewhere.

The second alternative is to say that the town didn’t give him the money that he needs to make the school system work and therefore he has no option but to leave.

Either way the story will be the same as that of the surgeon who, when informed of his patient’s demise observed that, “I worked my usual magic. Unfortunately, the patient failed me.”

The best way to evaluate executive performance is to compare and contrast. This year’s budget presentation can best be evaluated by comparing and contrasting it to that which we were given last year.

I believe that such a comparison, in light of all the information that has emerged about his past recently, will illustrate why he so frequently references the author of The Prince, Nicolai Machiavelli.

Therefore, for those who want to see a much more deferential, respectful, cynically calculating Superintendent who was laying the groundwork to establish his (self-perceived) Alpha male dominance which was in full flower last Tuesday, here is the budget message from April 2013.

The pitch worked marvelously, and the true believers, wearing their hearts on their sleeves and with a lump in their throats, jumped on board.


  1. It's amazing how many of those siting behind Buzz as well as on the dais are gone a year later.

    1. That's what happens to you if you don't drink the Kool-Aid.

    2. They can't go fast enough. The problem is their replacements. Nikola and Pate . . now there's the answer. If people thought Capt. Quinney was an arrogant buffo last Tuesday, wait until you see the Queen of Arrogance - Nikola. Couple her with the Princess of SPED - Pate. ????????????

    3. Hey let's look at the positive of a Nikola victory . . . eh, hum, but, hum? Oh, well maybe the maintenance department can get a backhoe, she loves to buy them for every department! And frankly the school department should have a backhoe to help move all the bullshit the committee and Buzz dump on us.

  2. Mrs. Quinney was at SMHS resently counting helmets. She wanted to know why the school had SO many football helmets. She went to the football coach and he went with her to explain why they have SO many football hemets. The only problem - she was looking at BASEBALL helmets!
    1. Why are school committee members in the building interfering with the professionals?
    2. On who's authority are these politicians entering our schools interrupting the professionals?
    3. Why are building administrators not showing them the door (Ed Reform Act 1993 - Principals are autonomous)
    4. Why isn't the teachers' union making an issue of these incursions?

    Bottom line - McLoughlin, Donovan, Quinney, Congdon and Olivio need to know their place. They ARE NOT professional educators. They are political hacks.

    Our district is a level 4 district not because of the schools, none are level 4. The Dept of Education has consistently had issues with school committee members meddling in school operations; as well as, constant inefficiencies with central office operations. They obviously still remember the 3.6 million dollar overdraft.

    When Buzz says he'll get the district out of level 4 - not going to happen until he puts the girls in place. Their shear arrogance is astonishing!

    PS - I do recommend that any guidance counselor presenting to the school committee in the future borrow one of the football helmets for your podium beating!

  3. One of the things that they just hinted at, but is in fact a big deal, is the NEASC accreditation visit. They have been putting this off for one reason or another but I guess that they cannot stall them any longer. They will have a great problem with NEASC be cause there are certain things that are supposed to be in place that the current administration is not doing or just paying lip service to. There is no pulling the wool over the eyes of an NEASC visiting team because the check everything at least three times and look ask questions of people in the community. Buzz may be able to get his buddies at the DESE to raise the level of the district, but another round of being on probation for accreditation will kill the district.

    1. Anyone interested in the NEASC standards for accreditation can find them HERE .

    2. People are just asking about NEASC now? I guarantee that McLoughlin, Donovan, Congdon, and especially Quinney have no idea how that works.

    3. The self-evaluation was scheduled for the 2012/13 school year, with the actual visit in March 2014. Where can I read the self-evaluation report?

  4. The following link contains the standards that they are looking for in detail:

    If the School is going to be visited in the near future, they should be nearly done with their self - study. If they are, I wonder if they will let the public know about it? Let the public read it.

  5. NEASC visits and reviews secondary school every ten years. SHS was last visited in 2004, and received results that placed the school on probation. This rating makes it more difficult for students during the college application process.
    The 2004 results cited over 70 issues that correction. It took 8 years to make NEASC satisfied, with SHS being taken off probation in only August 1, 2012. SHS was also rated a level 1 school on July 1, 2012. July 1, 2012 is also when McLoughlin and Donovan became school committee members. Look how things have gone since they arrived!
    The new school will most assuredly be placed on probation once again. If you review the standards for NEASC accreditation that the blog moderator has offered a link to, you will clearly see that our new 75 million dollar school is failing to meet these standards. Not because of the physical plant, but because of the actions taken by this school committee which prevent compliance with NEASC standards.
    1. Lack of guidance counselors. The recommended counselor/student ration for NEASC is 1:250, SHS is roughly 1:30. (Didn't the girls vote to eliminate one? Or did they close their eyes when Buzz did that. Where's that money gone?)
    2. Leadership standard. Do you really think they are going to be digging the fact that they the school in now searching for a fifth principal since August 1, 2012?
    3. Community support. This past week McLoughlin herself was quoted in The News whining about how they need the whole community to support them. It's not happening and it won't as long as you have attacks on the employees, as was evidenced during the committee meeting last week. NEASC will watch these meeting videos. They'll be very happy with Quinney and Donovan bashing the guidance people.

    Bottom line - SMHS will most assuredly be place on probation. Dr. Dominko asked about where students were applying and selection for college. The girls have made it more difficult for our students to be accepted to colleges.

    Safe your children's future - seek school choice.

    1. I think you meant "save" your children's future What will Kara think?

    2. Do not worry.
      The NEASC is a waste. The last two times they came to Southbridge the school was even worse and they only put it on probation the second time. They will see a pretty new school, smile and go away. They will list a few problems and give us 10 years to fix them.

    3. "Do not worry?" Obviously one of the educators who got the massive pay increase last month. Obviously an educator who doesn't send Their kids to the school. I worry because my son needs to get into the best college he can.
      "They'll list a few problems? From what I see, hear and read, the school is in shambles.
      They are most likely going to put the school on probation and cause my son difficulties.
      Why would the above writer say "Don't worry?"

  6. imagine that last year there was a presentation 2 weeks before the public hearing and the SC approved the budget allowing public digestion.. This year the public hearing was done before the alleged presentation and It was voted on the very same day.

    Apparently the local cable access can get slides into focus and they can be included in on air broadcasting. What is different with this there's cable crew?

  7. Only one person has taken out papers to run for school committee, Pate. The Town gets what it deserves.

    1. Who hitches their horse to a cart with two broken wheels?

      Clearly with the current make up it is not the best and brightest opportunity available to serve in this community.
      Yet it remains this communities biggest need.

      Where are the business people who want to invest in this community?
      Here is your chance to do so!
      Offer your experience and come make a positive difference.

    2. When are nomination papers available for school committee ?

    3. Do you know the deadline to return them with the required signatures?

    4. Last year it was May 7. I'm not sure about this year.

  8. I am more and more convinced that McLoughlin, Donovan and Quinney want to drive out the top students. Let them go to other districts. They want to eliminate any competition for their own children. We saw it when McLoughlin was all over the $ 40,000. American Optical scholarship.
    This is reminiscent of the Laliberte, Prencipe and Tarantino years. Let's make everyone SPED.


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