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.