The Worcester Telegram reports that the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has issued a bulletin calling for bids from individuals and nonprofit groups interested in serving as a receiver for Southbridge schools.
"This BID is designed to select an individual or nonprofit organization to serve as the receiver of the Southbridge Public Schools, should the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education vote to designate the district as Level 5,” the bulletin said.
The bids are to be submitted by February 1.
This does not indicate that a decision on Southbridge’s status has been made.
According to the Telegram:
The commissioner hasn’t made a recommendation or said if or when he will do so, said Jacqueline Reis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
If the commissioner recommends receivership, the state board would hold a public hearing in Southbridge to hear from district officials and others before voting. In Massachusetts, "turnaround receivers" are individuals or nonprofit organizations that offer improvement services to manage and operate chronically underperforming school districts, according to the state website.
It is unknown for how long the uncertainty would hover over Southbridge.
Southbridge School Superintendent Timothy P. Connors said he had not seen the request for proposals. After a reporter read the RFP summary to him, the Telegram quotes Mr. Connors as saying:
"The most important thing in that whole thing is 'should.' They haven’t done it; it means nothing. I don’t know if they put them out for others. But what I would take it to mean is that they’re just putting their ducks in a row, if in the future they need to have somebody to act as a receiver, they would have that person in place. But there’s a whole host of other things that they would have to go through.... I believe we shouldn’t be going into Level 5, period. And until such time as we’re clear about what that means, I’m going to assume we’re moving forward. I’m optimistic that we’re doing those things that are going to keep us in the status that we have now, until such time as the board makes a decision that we should move in a positive way, or not."