Friday, January 9, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Meeting - January 13, 2015

Southbridge School Committee Meeting

Town Council Chambers

Southbridge Town Hall

January 13, 2015

7:00 PM


I. Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance

II. Public Input*

III. Call to Order/Roll Call

IV. Approval of Consent Agenda
            A. Meeting Minutes
                 1. Regular School Committee-December 23, 2014
            B. Policy Second Readings
                 1. Policy GCCD-Domestic Violence Leave
                 2. Policy BEDH-Public Participation at School Committee
            C. Composition of Budget and Finance Subcommittee

V. Chairperson’s Announcements

VI. Reports
            A. Representative of the Student Advisory Committee
            B. School Committee
                  1. Curriculum Subcommittee
                  2. Negotiations Subcommittee
                  3. Sped PAC Liaison
                  4. Policy Subcommittee
            C. Finance Director
            D. Superintendent

VII. Presentations
            A. Ombudsman Education Services
                 1. Mrs. Brannigan Bernstein, Northeast Area Manager

VIII. School Committee Actions

IX. Unfinished Business
            A. Superintendent of Schools Update/Discussion

X. New Business
            A. The next regular School Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday,
                 January 27, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.

 XI. Member Forum

 XII. Executive Session
            A. Pursuant to MGL c. 30A, § 21(a)(3), to discuss strategy with respect to collective                 bargaining or  litigation, if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the                        government’s bargaining or litigation position, and the Chair so declares.
                   1. All bargaining units
                   2. Potential litigation
            B. Pursuant to MGL c. 30A, §21(a)(2) to discuss contract negotiations with non-union                       personnel.

 XIII. Open Session
             A. Adjournment

Items listed on the agenda are those items anticipated by the Chair that may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items on the agenda may be reached by the Committee, and other items may be added to the agenda at the discretion of the Chair or at the request of the Committee. In addition, the Committee at any time may go into executive session.

*School Committee Policy BEDH (October 2007), provides guidelines for public participation at School Committee meetings: “At the discretion of the chair, topics for discussion may be limited to those items listed on the School Committee meeting agenda for that evening; Improper conduct and remarks will not be allowed, and the chairman may terminate that individual’s privilege of address; All remarks will be addressed through the chairman of the meeting; The Committee will not hear complaints about school personnel nor against any member of the school community in public session.”


  1. Note Item IV.B.2 - Policy BEDH-Public Participation at School Committee Meetings.
    This should be discussed in public before they make another effort to silence us, not rushed through on the consent agenda.

    1. When was the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) removed as subcommittee? If they voted to establish it should it not be voted to be removed? That was voted on when Woodruff and Prencipe were chair and co chair. Can the SC just get rid of a subcommittee?

  2. Don'tYou Dare Speak the TruthJanuary 9, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    "The Committee will not hear complaints about school personnel nor against any member of the school community in public session.”
    What cowards! They suck at their positions, and they know it. So does EVERYONE, even their families and friends. We are all sick of the lies, lack of transparency and fake tears.
    I was at a function last night and listened to person after person in total disgust with these buffoons. Even the "we love Kara" folks have seen through her phoniness. They already knew that McLoughlin was a wind bag. These comments from their classmates.
    Hard to believe how much damage has been done in two and a half years!

  3. Deja Vu - All Over Again!January 9, 2015 at 10:54 AM

    If you want to see a complete waste of money and a program that lacks educational credibility, you have to witness this BS program - Ombudsman. It is a $250,000. credit recovery program. They hand out high school credits like handouts from the Jehovah Witness gang at the post office on Saturday. 50 credits awarded for half day students. A student at the high school can only earn 35 credits per year attending full days. More educational fraud.
    Since the school committee is clueless on the spending of the 25 million dollar budget, I can easily assume that they are even more clueless about this seriously flawed program.
    Remember the "Alternative School" that Tarantino, Laliberte and Prencipe brought us at the old American Optical site? Remember the 3.6 million dollar deficit those gals gave us? We are experiencing Deja Vu all over again!
    We have replaced those dolts with McLoughlin, Donovan and Quinney. But get ready for a sizable budget deficit.

    1. I am sick and tired of you bringing up something that happened over 10 years ago. First of all JACK JOVAN and DAVID DiGREGORIO were also on the School Committee and voted for the Alternative Program. Yes, Tarantino and Laliberte bailed when things went south. Prencipe stepped up to the plate as the appointed chair, went to the State and asked for help. The State provided us with Gene Thayer who helped clean the mess up and stabilize the District. This lead to the hiring of Dale Hanley who brought more stability.
      As to where the 3.6 million dollar deficit comes from was part of grandstanding by a previous School Committee Member trying to trash other School Committee members.. The actual deficit was under 2 million.
      Now that the history lesson is over, please concentrate on the present so that we can correct things for the future of this town.

  4. What are they waiting for?January 9, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    I don't see anything on this agenda about forming a search committee for a new superintendant. Is it their plan to keep Stanton in the job? Aside from being another one of Gardner's posse, is she even qualified? And what are they going to do about Slozak. He was as guilty in the whole intimidation matter as was Gardner. They've had plenty of time since they decided to can Gardner to make a decision about effecting a transition. They can't still believe that they have the community behind them, can they?

  5. I don't think Deja Vu All Over Again gets it. There is no comparison between the past situations and what is going on now.
    Those in the past, at least those who remained on the committee, addressed the problem and worked to fix it.
    The current school committee won't even admit that there is a problem. Beyond that they explain nothing. If anything they continually work to limit what the public knows about what is going on. And what do we get? Disaster.
    You can criticize all you want about what happened in the past, but it compares in no way to the present mess. Look at the size of the graduating classes at Southbridge High. Its laughable.
    We have to get rid of these morons as soon as possible.

  6. Face it. If McLoughlin had set out with a plan to destroy the Southbridge school system she could not have done a better job.

    1. Donovan is just as culpable.

  7. Mounting tension and heightened kerfuffles.

    1. Visionless CommitteeJanuary 10, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      Kerfuffles, my ass. You need to have a view to have anyone conflicting with it. This school committee is as view-less as a windowless room.

  8. I for one can't wait to learn the particulars of this Ombudsman program. How are the credits earned? Are there certified teachers? Are they following the districts graduation requirements? This seems like a very expensive credit recovery program. I thought it was supposed to be a special education program? Buzz lied to the town again? Why am I surprised?

    1. Here copy and paste in your browser (About Ombudsman Program)

  9. The Chairwoman better announce that they will be forming a superintendent search committee or she can kiss her seat on this school committee goodbye! Would she really keep making the same mistake over and over?

    1. Even if she names a search committee it won't redeem the disaster she has already been. As far as I'm concerned she can kiss her seat goodbye now.

  10. We have 3 years of ormsbudsman. Thank you Buzz. Heard the administrator is on an improvement plan can anyone verify this and what is could have been for

    1. Lack of Oversight and CredibilityJanuary 10, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      Just another Donovan/McLoughlin screw up. This program is a farce. It belittles the diplomas EARNED by students at SHS. Let's dumb it down some more girls. Do they even know what or where it is?
      Zero credibility by zero school committee members.

  11. The teacher Mitch, is an idiot. Totally not the right person to work with kids.

    1. Part 1
      Now, I don’t usually step up to the defense of the moron’s who have been in charge of the school district and I don’t really think that is what I am doing now but sometimes when decisions and policies are seen out of the context of which they are made seem insane. This is the case with many of the recovery credit recovery programs operating throughout the state and the nation. The problem is driven by how the state and federal governments want use to “grade the schools and districts”. They want to boil down each student to being just a number to be valued as equal to any other number.

      Mathematically speaking each student therefore is equal to one [Student = 1] and the logic they use is that if each Student is equal to one then it must follow that each Student is equal to every other student. [Mary = John] And, that is the flaw in their calculations. This errant logic has plagued the Southbridge schools since the beginning of MCAS.

      Remember when, after the first round of MCAS testing that Southbridge High School was touted by the state as an Exemplary School. Well, in how the State set up it parameters for measuring the progress of schools, the State said that each school had to make steady progress by increasing its scores. Well, when you are at the top of the heap there is not much room for improvement. However that was not factored into the states formula for grading the schools. And when Southbridge did not make adequeat progress, not that our scores dropped, after two years we were labeled an underperforming school and district.

      This was in 2002 and then the perfect storm hit – NEASC. NEASC labeled Southbridge High School with a probationary accreditation status. We started to experience white flight from our schools. Parents worried about their children’s futures either moved out of the district or through school choice moved there students to other districts. (On a side note, when school systems like Cambridge were in danger of being labeled underperforming the state changed the way it reported progress to levels one through five thusly saving other districts the stigma of “Underperforming”. However, by this time the damage had already been done to the Southbridge Town and Schools. )

    2. Part 2

      This movement of our top students to other districts after the eighth grade quickened the collapse of the district. And soon, our graduation rate dropped and Southbridge schools were cast into the black hole of the educational universe. And, if you know anything about black holes, it is a place in space where everything is sucked in and never sees the light of day. This brain drain from the schools coupled with a promotion policy at the middle school where student who did not pass their courses or their MCAS tests at that level were passed on to the high school when coupled with the cherry picking of student by Bay Path (Because they were and are under the same pressure to perform in MCAS) sent students to Southbridge High School who were not academically prepared to take high school classes that were aligned with High School MCAS Standards.

      This gave SHS only one and a half years to ready students whose reading and math levels were far below the ninth grade level. Also, at this point we must take a look at the elephant in the room, the demographics of the town were changing. We saw an influx of Hispanic students coming primarily Puerto Rico whose primary language (and for some their only language) was Spanish. And, here is where the States insanity became damaging to both the community and the schools of Southbridge, the state took, and still takes, the position that demographics are not a factor in a student’s progress in an educational setting. Remember their position is that Mary is equal to John. Well, when Mary comes from a family that is not struggling from day to day to make ends meet; gets three hot meals a day (that don’t come from McDonalds); and is able to sleep in an environment that is warm (or cool in the summer) peaceful and John comes from a place where the family is cash strapped and the English language is rarely spoken there is no way that Mary and John are going to achieve at the same level. However, this is the States expectation. Demographics don’t matter because Mary and John are students and therefore they are equal.

    3. Part 3

      I was driving through another city in another state and was listening to the radio. The topic was the constant underperforming of that cities school district in that states formula for successful schools. The caller verbalized the major problem with the State’s expectation of progress and grading the school systems teachers and administration by high stakes test scores. The caller said, “ You can take the teachers and staff from best schools and the teachers from the worst schools in the state and have them trade places then measure the results. The results will be that the so-called under performing schools will continue their decline and the staff from the underperforming schools will take the successful school to new heights. This analogy helps explain why many successful teachers leave this district after a few years. They find better districts where the skills they honed in Southbridge pays huge dividends to the gaining districts.

      Now, I have come the long way around to get to the unethical policies and procedures that are being used by the administrators over the last few years. They want a quick fix to the data problem and make it seem like the district is progressing. They want to influence the numbers so it magically seems like there is a huge leap in the scores due to their programs. This sets up an atmosphere where people like Buzz and Gardner can come in and sell the community a bill of goods while padding their doctoral thesis with data so they can move on to the next better job and earn their PhD.

      In closing bring the district out of the suck hole that it is currently in will be a long process. People looking for a quick fix will grab at the unproven policies and programs offered by those who may be book smart but have no long standing in bringing a district or a school out of distress. Remember Dr. Hanley was here for almost six years. Her first few years were mired in the same type of problems we see today. However she stayed the course and with the help of key administrators who put the people in place and policies in effect the district was moving forward and the high school attained a level one status and was take off probation by the NEASC. We need to be in it for the long haul. And, someone needs to inform the state that in no way is Mary’s academic potential equal to that of John’s or visa versa.
      status and was take off probation by the NEASC. We need to be in it for the long haul. And, someone needs to inform the state that in no way is Mary’s academic potential equal to that of John’s or visa versa.

    4. While your overall reasoning is sound, you pass over the one observation that you made that still casts the current administration into the hole. That is the fact that, under Dr. Hanley, progress was finally being made. The district became embroiled in political wrangling over the next Superintendent which ultimately led to the appointment of Eric Ely and the return to a decline that negated virtually all the good that Dr. Hanley had accomplished.

  12. My point was to clarify the logic behind going after a quick fix to the problem instead of a sustained effort. I was not to absolve the administration or the school committee of the unethical and self-serving way they went about seeking instant gratification. Nor was it meant to excuse the Bobble Head controlled school committee of settling old political scores the even their first decision, Mr. Ely, who was their first decision ( the extension not the appointment) was in lock-step with.

    1. When You Don't Know - Do Your HomeworkJanuary 12, 2015 at 6:44 PM

      To the point. . . I would ask anyone looking for a quick fix, as these non educators have tried and have so miserably failed our children, educate yourselves to the problems before you role out another useless "quick fix."
      I would recommend you start with the writings of Diane Ravitch ( a Google search can start your studies). A particularly appropriate writing would be her May 31, 3011 OpEd piece in the NY Times, "Waiting for a School Miracle.". Granted most of our school committee believes they are all-knowing, but the data clearly speaks to that foolish belief.
      Learn something, oyhrt than how to silence those that do.

    2. Fountain of StupidityJanuary 12, 2015 at 11:03 PM

      Just over 500 years ago Ponce de Leon traveled to Florida to and believed he found the Fountain of Youth. Another "leader" looking for a quick fix to big concerns - aging and death.
      We have the found the Fountain of Stupidity right here in Southbridge. You can view it every other Tuesday evening at 41 Elm Street starting at 7:00 PM sitting atop their "Dais." Of course you can't speak to it, or ask it any question; but this fountain has all the answers.


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