I've offered numerous comments on the situations facing our public school district. I, along with most other members of the Town Council, allowed tonight's public hearing on the proposed school restructuring to be one for the general public, opting not to speak once more. I will say but a few things on the matter at this point and time.
My opposition to the proposal is not some sort of belief that the current structure is fundamentally the best option. I have concerns with alterations to the athletic director's position, have questions and concerns about the ISS positions, and the delineation of various other duties. Ultimately, this is the purview of the School Committee, not the Town Council, and I respect that. I do not, however, believe that anyone — resident, parent, Town Councilor, or otherwise — is prohibited from having and sharing those concerns or asking their questions.
My opposition to the proposal is that it appears to be rushed for whatever reason. I readily admit and recognize that these sorts of plans are often hashed out and worked on for some time before becoming public, but it is hard to believe that is the case in this situation due to it not being reflected in any way in the first couple versions of the school department's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I believe that the restructuring is too dramatic a change to put together in the matter of 8-12 weeks. I believe the restructuring should take place only after this fall's NEASC self-study and DESE evaluative study are able to shed some light on the progress of the current administrative structure. Let DESE do its job, make its recommendations, and then, over the course of the winter and next spring, and into next summer if needed, implement any needed restructuring of the administration. Let's not have a knee-jerk reaction to anything, let's not rush into anything, let's not push something through. I may support a thorough and deliberate restructuring process, but cannot support a rush-structuring.
My opposition to the proposal is not to preserve the job of any particular administrator(s) currently employed, but I do disagree with the assertion that there is no alternative to forcing currently employed and contracted employees to re-apply for positions rather than simply altering job descriptions and hiring alternative or additional positions, such as a middle school principal. I am not in the building, and there are always two sides to every story, but far too many people I respect and know not to be the type that speaks for the sake of speaking, who are in the school or have a child in the school, that the culture and atmosphere is the best its been in some time. That there is greater accountability than in recent years. The current administration, from the accounts of those who have direct knowledge and of whom I largely trust, is pretty well respected and liked by the great majority of students, parents, and faculty members. I've heard from but two other individuals who have offered differing points of view.
Lastly, I pledge, assuming I am serving on the next Town Council, that a forced restructuring will result in any sort of retaliatory act by voting to reduce the school budget to the minimum net school spending figure. I won't support any such call or threat or intimidation. Punishing the students is not the way to respond to a difference of opinion amongst adults. Anything to the contrary, offered or threatened, is inappropriate, foolish and spiteful.