Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Telegram Reports On Restructure Hearing

Under the title Southbridge school reorganization plan meets resistance, Telegram reporter Brian Lee summarized tonight’s meeting on the proposed restructure at Southbridge Middle/High School.

“The School Committee hosted a well-attended public hearing Tuesday on a proposed restructuring of the 3-year-old middle-high school that would eliminate 13 administrative positions and create 12 new ones in 2015-16, including the creation of principal jobs for both programs.
“Many people expressed that the proposal was being rushed and was perhaps politically motivated to target certain existing employees.” He reported.

He then went on to summarize the comments of a number of those present. 

David Williams, a teacher, parent, and former president of the teachers’ union, said he absolutely believes the school needs someone to be in charge of the middle school.
But a complete restructuring wasn’t necessary, Mr. Williams said. 
Regarding the public angst, Mr. Williams suggested that the state wasn’t going to “storm-troop Southbridge and haul people off to some educational prison” because the district wants to hire a principal.
But at the same time, he said, “We don’t need to fire anyone, because this clearly looks and smells like a veiled attempt to do something you keep saying you’re not trying to do.”
He added that if there’s a problem with the administration, then the superintendent should do their job and properly evaluate the principals, not try to restructure “to get rid of someone.”

Resident Mark Peters said he had spoken to school staff at various events and had asked them what they thought about the plan.
To his surprise, he said, some said they had no comment, didn’t feel safe commenting, or didn’t know if it were a good or bad thing. He expressed concern that the plan lacked input from existing teachers and administrators.

Kenny Allard, a sophomore at the middle-high school, said he was concerned about the possible turnover of administration.
The student offered that the current administration had made vast strides in education, atmosphere, discipline and morale of students and faculty, and said the possibility of dismantling the current administrative teams would once again bring change. Since eighth grade, he said, he had seen six principals.

Kerry Walker, the parent of a sophomore at the school, said Principal Melissa Earls has made great strides in her first year at the school, reinstating the school council, creating a student advisory board, and attending as many events as possible. Ms. Walker asserted that she had not seen one person from the central office or on the School Committee, other than parents, at sports, chorus or band events or other school functions.

Jason Jarvis, the father of two students in the Southbridge elementary schools, implored the committee to “stop the rush and stop this restructuring at this point in time.” He added that the entire process “does not look good from the road.”

Catherine Nikolla, a former town councilor and school building committee member, said she had to “keep a straight face” about the talk of restructuring because “the school has been restructured ever since it was built.”
Ms. Nikolla went on to say that she is not happy that the committee allowed former Superintendent Basan Nembirkow to fire people at will. “You were his boss and you allowed it,” she said, adding that she was sorry in many ways that she got involved in building the building.

He closed the article with a comment from Acting Superintendent Sheryl Stanton who said “the comments were appreciated, but she noted that underrepresented parents and staff, who would offer the other side to the story, had not come out to speak publicly, for whatever reason.

Once that side does speak publicly, she suggested, is “when you get traction.”


Former Middle/High teacher John McHugh remarked on his comments on Councilor Moriarty’s Facebook page:
My full remarks are as follows: Important Questions that need to be answered.
1.         Where are the decision making matrices that define the problems that this restructuring plan is supposed to solve?
a.         What are the exact quantifiable problems with the way the ISS Program is being run? What were the other options that were examined? What are the blessing and curses, positive and negative with leaving the status quo or the other options?
b.         What are the quantifiable problems with the single principal model that we now have? Again, what other courses of action were examined? What are the blessing and curses, positive and negative with leaving the status quo or the other options?
c.         Dr. Page brought up the idea of using a Jr. High model and moving the sixth grade back to the elementary schools. Was this idea ever discussed as to its merits and impact on the district? If the district went to a Jr. High / Sr. High Model would there still be a need for dual principals?
2.         Where is the decision making matrix on not conducting a superintendent search starting when the then acting / interim Superintendent Buzz Nimberkow was let go or quit? Then again when Gardner was asked to leave?
3.         The Following are statements:
            a. Southbridge Public Schools deserve and need a Superintendent who is totally focused on the schools and the students. This requires a Superintendent who is qualified and experienced and one that is not working on their PhD. It is in the nature of attaining a PhD that the candidate must do original research… In common terms they must experiment on our students. In essence our students become stepping stones to the PhD candidate’s future.
            b. It is the appearance that the Southbridge Public Schools are being run by caprice, whim, and vindictiveness. We, the citizens and taxpayers Southbridge deserve to know the facts behind the decisions that are being made in our name.
            c. I have no way of knowing whether Superintendent Stanton is the best person for the job or not. But I do know that she is the product of the Buzz / Gardner vetting system. That is enough to know that maybe she carries some of the stain of those failed administrations.
4.         Finally, is there a plan to reduce the 30 central office / administrative positions that are listed on the DESE website?


  1. Mrs. Stanton said " underrepresented parents and staff, who would offer the other side to the story, had not come out to speak publicly, for whatever reason."

    Maybe the reason is that they don't exist.

  2. BS Mr. O'Brien, I am proof that that they exist!
    When you have political organizing that very,much looks like a lynch mob you stay away.
    You stayed away from downtown Ferguson and downtown Baltimore for your own safety. Much like the staff that refused to speak not knowing when or which way the crowd will turn ugly you stay away and make your thoughts known in other ways.

    When the Chairman of the building committee, a former school committee member and current candidate of the same, reverses course (after screaming and chastising the decision to make it one building instead of two) and now wants one building the nonsensical political theatrics is clearly in full operation.

    Scott Lazo was happy when Buzz said" when I stand in front of that building I see two schools a high school on the left and middle high school on the right.
    It should be run like two schools with two principals. If elected you know he will flip back to his original positions of two building with two principals because he has spent years promoting that line of thinking and only a few weeks of joining the lynch mob before an election.
    Seriously, how can he now say it is one building when he did everything but stand on his head to try to get it two buildings with two principals before being out voted..

    Also, Moriarty is beating his own political drum with his best new dunk tank friend Mrs Earls.
    He may not of been involved in such scuttle before but his new friend is now unpacking her previous baggage here in this town.

    Provide proof that Earls was asked to step down or I have to believe Supt. Stanton that she simply will be asked to reapply for a new position under the new restructuring once voted in. Currently the political drum is beating for taking the word of a newbie principal over the word of the newbie Supt. and no proof what so ever to back either of their positions. This isn't the same play or the same ending for Mrs Earls as we have seen before. Honestly, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

    1. "Proof" of your existence is no proof when offered under a pseudonym.

    2. Yet there is plenty of old tape of Mr Lazo advocating for two buildings with two principals. If you can't defeat the message you try to deflect the messenger.
      This is exactly why I didn't go tonight. You just made my point for me.

    3. Your point about Lazo is negated by his own observations that, while he favors the idea he objects to the current process. As regards the rest of your statement it is meaningless without verification of your identity. Your failure to provide it proves nothing.

    4. Provide proof that Earls was asked to step down or I have to believe Supt. Stanton in that she simply will be asked to reapply for a new position under the new restructuring once voted in. Currently the political drum is beating for taking the word of a newbie principal over the word of the newbie Supt. with no proof what so ever to back either of their positions.

    5. Unless and until you are willing to establish a real identity you have zero credibility.

    6. If the Ms. Stanton is telling people that they have to re-apply that means that they have NO job for next year. Call it what you want -- if you have a three year contract and now you have NO job you have been asked to "step down" or should we say you have been fired.
      I wonder what the pay will be for the "new" principals -- the same as Ms. Earls -- or less ? Is she expected to take a pay cut ?
      The only people who will benefit from this are the lawyers !

  3. Save our Schools --SOSMay 27, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    The problems that were expressed last night had nothing to do with the need of two principals at SMHS. What the people were concerned about was the rushed process and lack transparency. And that is summed up by the citizen who gave us the tag line of "what it looks like from the road".

    Someone else said last night that they need to hire a Public Affairs Officer to get their message out. Well, the school committee under Jack Jovan would do a television show at least once a month to talk to the students and discuss what was going on in the district. Don't they have a television studio at SMHS... They could have short circuited this whole mess by taking to the airwaves months ago (years ago).

    Mr. McHugh just asked them to show the community quantitative data on what courses of action that were discussed concerning the two major points of the restructure plan (ISS and Dual Prinicpals). He also asked two other questions: 1) Why wasn't a superintendent search started after the Buzz or Gardner fiascoes. 2) Why are there so many positions at the central office. The number he quoted was thirty.

    Mrs. Allard's voiced the concern about stability in the lives of the students and the staff. She said there were six or seven principals in that building in less than two years. In essence, the students can't get into the rhythm of the educational process if teachers are being bombarded with changes to what the administrators what to see.

    In conclusion, last night was a speed bump in the road in order to slow thing down a bit. However, as we all know, if you don't heed the speed bump and keep on rocketing down the road your wheels will fall off. And, the ones that will be hurt in the end are the students. School Committee take heed of the signs that are at each school . . . Slow Down...

    1. Some of the numerous responders to today's blog offerings bring to light their obvious disdain and dislike for Mr Lazo who is still a huge defender of the 2 schools/2 principals structure for the new school - his objection is to another hasty, poorly thought out, and most surely a poorly executed restructuing plan @ the 11th hour.

      I would say that the Lazo haters would condemn him - and anyone associated w/him - if he stated that the sky was blue today.

      Why are we rushing into a restructuring at this late stage - pushed by a Superintendant who has a 1 year contract - and most likely will bid us adieu when she gets her PhD -and who will be responsible for the vetting/hiring of the new principals & asst principals ???

      What happens next year - following the Superintendant Search (which is the SC's job) if & when someone other than Ms Stanton is selected? That Superintendant will now be asked to work w/a team that was created by their predecessor - all who have 3 year contracts expiring @ the same time.

      And good God! - here we are looking for staff - at the time of year when most school systems have already got their ducks lined up - and most of the good people have already applied for / been vetted /CORI checked/ etc etc for the new school year - which generally for administrators especially, begins July 1 - does this mean we will get the people who couldn't find a job????

      What happens if they can't find all the personnel needed (3 years exp, etc)??? Will there be no principals/asst principals on opening day???? or will they hurry up and take anybody - whether they have 3 years experience or not - breaking their own rules (which both the SC and the TC are very good at)

      Restructuring of this magnitude - whether it be from 2 schools/ 2 principals to 1 school/1 principal - or vice versa needs to be a well thought out (and documented as such) process - months in the planning.

      Let us go forward w/the current structure - hear the State's recommendations and search for a Superintendant that would be up to / and welcome the challenge - for a restructuring back to the 2 schools / 2 principal set up .

      And geez, what about the kids?!?!?!!?!? Should that not be the primary focus?? You know, the kids who are having trouble learning in school because of instability @ home - and here we are providing them w/more instability in school.


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