Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Southbridge School Committee marked a major shift in attitude.
Melissa Earls, Principal of Southbridge Middle/High School, laid out a presentation that was distinctly different than those of her predecessors.
Calmly, and with quantitative data to substantiate her positions, she laid out the challenges facing the middle/high school.
Unlike the undeservedly optimistic pap that has been dispensed by most members of the current school committee and the two preceding superintendents there was a concrete effort at issue identification. This was coupled with a discussion of various means of addressing these issues and their relative efficacy.
It was a masterful presentation, not only for its content, but equally for what it implied.
It marked a concession by the school committee leadership that, in the conflict that had surfaced between Earls and former Superintendent Gardner, Earls had clearly won.
It also marked a defeat for the interventionist tactics of the school committee leadership who had micro-managed Earls’ predecessors.
Vice-Chairman Donovan noted, “…when you were talking about assessment data at the high school you had your chart, terrible chart… I appreciate your honesty and no sugar-coating here, this is a harsh, harsh reality that your building faces…it’s very sad and depressing to see these numbers.”
One could almost hear Chairman McLoughlin gagging as she said “I echo the sentiments of my colleagues up here when I say thank you very much for an honest and frank presentation.”
The question for the citizens of Southbridge is whether they will reward Donovan and McLoughlin for the abject failure that their leadership has imposed on the school system over the last three years. They have been shamed into accepting a search for a new Superintendent. They have seen the ascendancy of the SMHS Principal over their chosen standard bearer for the district. They have overseen relentless waste in numerous areas, not the least of which have been legal costs and personnel issues. And throughout they have increasingly restricted access to information and public involvement.
What remains to be seen first is if anyone is willing to stand for election in their place. We anxiously hope that candidates will be forthcoming.