In an article titled Southbridge school board takes on restructuring, council criticism, Worcester Telegram reporter Brian Lee addressed recent developments in the district.
The article states, “Speaking about various issues in the highly politicized school environment here, Mrs. McLoughlin confirmed that she took part in a conference call about the proposed restructuring with two senior associate commissioners at the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. One call was before Tuesday night’s public hearing, the other was Wednesday.
“But after viewing the proposal, and verifying that it contained substance, the DESE officials told her “to proceed in any manner as the district and School Committee sees fit,” Mrs. McLoughlin said Friday.”
The article goes on to observe, “Middle-high school Principal Melissa Earls' job has drawn considerable public interest. Fliers expressing support for her have been posted on utility poles in town, while many of the 20 people who spoke during the public hearing expressed concerns about constant turnover and the need for stability at the middle high school.”
Speaking about the recent no confidence vote by the council “Mrs. McLoughlin also confirmed that she asked DESE if it could issue a letter of support for the School Committee's authority, in wake of the Town Council's recent vote of no confidence in the school board.
“Mrs. McLoughlin said she hopes that a letter from the state could speak to ‘a sense that the authority of the School Committee is being subverted or challenged’ by ‘certain individuals in official positions in this community’ who are ‘overstepping their legal bounds.’
“Mrs. McLoughlin said, ‘A lot of people in official positions are trying to insert themselves into decisions that are not within their legal perview [sic],’ while ‘using’ that they are weighing in as a private citizen.
“Various town councilors have sounded off about the School Committee. They have raised concerns about whether the proposed restructuring would add to the schools' rising unemployment and legal costs.
“Mrs. McLoughlin said: ‘The very people that are outraged or concerned about our legal costs are actually causing our legal costs to go up.’”
Regarding the vote to extend the Acting Superintendent’s contract, “Mrs. McLoughin said she doesn't believe that this is the proper environment to do a search because the board doesn't feel united or aligned.”
“Asked about the state's recent level of involvement with the district, DESE spokeswoman Jacqueline Reis said, ‘We have been in communication with a representative of the Southbridge School Committee and remain concerned about the discord in the district. We hope the (town's) elected officials will be able to work together to stabilize the district for the good of Southbridge students.’”