As I was out walking this morning I began to think about everything that has been happening since the last New Year. There have been many issues and problems that have plagued Southbridge. We have had mega problems with the school district, a rash of arson and the problem of no reliable media.Starting with the lack of media coverage in this town has exacerbated many other problems we have experienced over the last year. It is like we live in an age before Gutenberg. Everything in this town seems to be done by word of mouth. Yes, there is this blog and a few other places where people can find out a little bit of what is happening in town. However, the citizens of Southbridge should not have to rely on searching the internet. Google and Facebook are no replacement for a centralized news outlet. Last year we had a rash of fires set by some unknown individual(s). However, anyone who lives on or close to Main Street knows that there is a nightly parade of blue lights and sirens. I am not making the inference that there is a lot of crime in Southbridge, but our police officers and firefighters are putting themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis and no one seems to know what is going on. And, this harkens back to my previous point that we have a lack of a centralized media outlet. It is like we live in a suck hole between Worcester and Springfield. This brings me to the problems with the School District and I mean the district administration and not the teachers in the individual schools. The District has been in turmoil for more than the last few years. It has never gotten back on its feet since the State and the NEASC found it underperforming in 2004.There was a glimmer of hope as Dr. Hanley’s tenure as superintendent was waning. Many people did not like her or her style and her first couples of years were a little shaky. However, when she left, she left the district in a better status both with the state and the NEASC. Does she deserve all the credit –no- but she appointed the right people at the right time to get the job done. There were many naysayers at when she forced her idea of a written curriculum down the district throat, but it was key in getting the district turned around. As a side note much credit must go to Bill Bishop in getting SHS out of the underperforming status and regaining NEASC accreditation. And no, he did not do it alone. Bishop took over a school that was in tatters because of the previous principal and built both a leadership staff and a teaching staff that worked long hours on their own dime to bring SHS to a level one status.The successive School Committees and administrations were handed a district that was on its way back. And in less than three years have run it into the ground. Ely, Wiggins, Buzz, and Gardner were all concerned with themselves and how their record would look on their resumes. They were all looking for their next step up the educational food chain. The administrative staff and educational policies drove many great teachers away and those they could not intimidate they went after. It would be great to see the report on Gardner, but that will never see the light of day.In closing, there are many great things happening in Southbridge. We have Cops and Kids in the summer to keep our youth occupied with wholesome activities. We have a great police and fire departments that go out of their way to help people. We also have some great teachers doing fantastic things in the schools. With that being said, no one knows about it because we live in a medialess suck hole between Worcester and Springfield. Citizens should not have to search the internet, cruise FaceBook, YouTube, or even this blog to find out about the Good and the bad things happening in Southbridge.
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