Friday, April 17, 2015

Moriarty Comments On School Budget


Other Officials Speak Out in Telegram Article

Town Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty has commented on the proposed School  budget on his
FaceBook page.

"Not only do I question whether it would be appropriate to provide such an increase to a school district that has been mired in perpetual transitions, practically in every key leadership position, for a number of years now.

"The assertion that we should be adding money to exceed what was there for a recent high-water mark in 2012 is interesting, but flawed. What was student performance in 2012? Were on the right path three years ago? This current School Committee, I imagine, would say we were not in a good place in 2012 ... just as we are not in a good place right now. According to the DESE profile of our school district, the percentage of the per pupil expenditure being used for "administration" has climbed each of the last three years recorded (though, admittedly, data from 2014 is not made available there as yet). 

"The seemingly continual turnover of superintendents, finance team members, principals, and assistant principals has not been an issue of paychecks and resources. Not one of those who have left has publicly stated, or privately, to my knowledge, has cited money, funding or resources as a reason for departure. It has been politics, gamesmanship, politics, mismanagement, politics, retribution and retaliation, and, of course, politics.

"Some bemoan that we have tough demographics, specifically citing ELL students. Across the district, however, there is no group in the demographic breakdown that is coming anywhere close to where they need to be in order to be considered "on target".

"Until Central Office and administration can establish at least a positive track record, blank checks cannot be written out. Good money after bad is not the way to salvation. The problem with our school district is not funding. The problem with our school district is inconsistency, a lack of accountability, and a constant changing of direction due to politics and the never-ending game of musical chairs."

In an article in the Worcester Telegram titled, “Southbridge council chair on school budget proposal: 'No way'” other town officials echoed the sentiment.

Councilor Albert D. Vecchia, Jr. called the proposed budget, “ridiculously unreasonable."

Town Manager Kevin  Paicos said it was "obviously unfundable," and expressed disappointment with what he said was the schools' lack of communication.

“I've never, once, in 40 years, had a School Department provide such an astronomical budget like this, with no dialogue, no discussion whatsoever," Mr. Paicos asserted.

The only other way to fund the request would be with a permanent override, "which is obviously not going to happen," he said.

In fiscal 2012-14, the schools spent $680,000 in unemployment compensation, while legal costs were $116,000 in 2011, $123,000 in 2012, $199,000 in 2013, and $125,000 last year.

In addition, the manager said, the department's administrative offices are in "that enormous building," the former high school on Cole Avenue.

"My goodness, what are they occupying: 10, 15 percent of the building?" he said, adding the small rents it receives from tenants were "nowhere near" offsetting operating costs.

He added that the schools' maintenance department, which is in a separate town-owned building, could easily move into the public works facility. But he said the School Department hasn't responded to his offer to move them into the DPW building.

On top of all that, Mr. Paicos said he signs weekly purchase orders for the schools, which is "in sharp variance" with the town charter.

"When I asked, 'Why am I doing this?' I was told that the School Department's mismanagement of its budget has been so bad that it put this procedure in place so that the manager can supervise their expenditures and mismanagement, and thus exhibit some control over how they spend their money."

He said he believed the practice had been in place three to four years.

7 comments:

  1. What happened with the new Principal at CSS? I hear there is an interim?

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    1. Yes. Emily Mantineo has been named interim principal. Lataille was made Director of Teaching & Learning.

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    2. More turmoil. How about stability for the students ? Not with McLaughlin and Donovan in charge

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  2. a tale of a fateful tripApril 18, 2015 at 1:29 AM

    I ask this question with all seriousness - When do you stop bailing and what does that mean if you do?
    Over the years "The ship" has been described as listless, taking on water, in need of being turned around. Over the years it's Captains have even been accused of being asleep at the wheel.
    "The ship" has been labeled level 4 with no end insight despite those working hard to keep the engines running. Unfortunately, the ship has been rudderless by it's operators for years. Instead it has been politically charted off course all throughout. One political team gets spanked by another in elections and the infighting and political paybacks continually cycle over and over again.
    We could very well be returned to yesterday in our very next election if the current rumors are true. Yesterday wasn't so good folks or those operators wouldn't have been replaced in the first place. Yesterday was when our ship was first called listless, taking on water, in need of being turned around. Yesterday was when those operators accused the captain of being a sleep at the wheel right on their watch. Politically they rose by making others walk the plank until a mutiny happened by passengers/voters who had reached their limits and forced them off the ship instead.
    New ship operators raised up from within the people but became power hungry, hypocrites and just mean. They hid behind their anointed and beloved Captain and rode the winds while they blew. They became surly when the winds died and they had to do their own rowing. Their captain then abandoned them and the passengers/voters realized that a cruel and unusual trick had been played on them. Their resources exhausted by poor management behavior decision after poor management behavior decision.
    Next to take the helm was the Second Mate along with all her cronies. The operators not wanting to run out of wind again aligned with their own endless windbag in the last election. Soon after, the second mate and members of the crew tussled, and the current operators made the second mate jump ship in a lifeboat. Which is why today we have the chief engineer at the helm.
    The chief engineer has been steering the ship into calmer waters and maintaining order until recently. She is now seeking money for all the neglected repairs of the ship and the supplies to chart the course for at least 240 or perhaps even level three. She must feel a little like Columbus did in that begging regard. She can't take the voyage without the financing and the repo company DESE is knocking on our door.
    That all said, when do stop bailing and make the repairs? Or, when do you stop bailing and let the repo company DESE take you over, make the repairs and then hand us the bill anyway? Financial Decisions will be made by July 1st and repo decisions made approximately NOV 1st. after the DESE's fall full review. (The prerequisite necessary for a DESE takeover mind you. ) However, in this June's elections this town must make a decision on what happens when you stop bailing. Will new operators emerge for this election? I hope so! Or, will we return to yesterday and therefore almost certain receivership. When making these decisions consider the saying " you can pay me now or you can pay me later " either way it will be a very expensive repair bill. It's up to us the passengers to rise up or give up. We get to decide what it means when we stop bailing and what becomes of the US Southbridge School System. Are you the next operator in waiting to sign up? Or, the passenger running for the lifeboats? Or, will you go down with the ship in oblivion when others stop bailing and let the ship finally sink into the bottom of the DESE's locker? Tell us your say as YOU get to decide how this tale ends.



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    1. Having worked my way through your metaphorical history I conclude that, whatever problem existed before, they have only been amplified by the current school committee. McLoughlin, Donovan, Quinney and Abrahamson have essentially controlled the committee for the last two and a half years. During that time matters have only gotten worse. You need only look at Paicos’ comments to realize this. McLoughlin in particular has emphasized form over substance with her preoccupation with rewriting the Policy Manual. It may not be all that desirable to return to the past, but even that would be a damn sight better than continuing down the current road we are on.

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    2. Gilligan makes an interesting point. With all her attention to rewriting the policy manual, what makes McLoughlin think that future school committees will pay any more attention to it than she has?

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  3. The Town Manager, His Royal Highness Kevin the Last \i^i^i^i/ can criticize the School Department for only renting out a small portion of the High School, but how is he and Mrs. Acly and her staff doing at filling our Industrial Park?

    What percentage of the Sturbridge Budget is spent on schools? What percentage of the Dudley and Charlton Budgets? Not cost per student, but percentage of the Budget should be the measure of appropriate funding. It is the level funding playing field, connected not to measures wealth or poverty, but an equitable share of the community pie.

    If we had a public alternative High School, would their higher scores help bring up the Districts "level"? Say 60-75 students?

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