At Tuesday’s meeting of the Southbridge School Committee, interim Superintendent Timothy Connors will recommend operating the middle/high school as two separate facilities in one building according to the Worcester Telegram.
In the memo that contained this plan, Connors also appeared to be planning for a state takeover of the district.
Concerning the two-buildings-in-one concept, Mr. Connors told the Telegram & Gazette: “I’ve been telling the School Committee since I got here that it’s something we need to move forward with, and I’ll be talking to the School Committee about it at their meeting on Tuesday evening.”
Mr. Connors explained that middle school and high school are two different institutions that have different needs.
To enact the change, Mr. Connors said, “It is a very simple process, one which I will explain to the School Committee on Tuesday night, and then we can apply for that in February.”
He suggested that the state would also be supportive of the move.
“Therefore, starting in July," he said, "if it all moves through the School Committee and the state, they’ll be perceived as two separate schools, and evaluated as two separate schools.”
Some blame the configuration of the building as one school for ongoing issues in the district, leading to a high rate of turnover of the building's administration.
Meanwhile, Mr. Connors’ memo was prefaced with notification to staff that he expects state Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester to make a decision this month about whether he will recommend receivership to the state board.
“Our task is to continue to move forward with meeting the educational needs of our students,” Mr. Connors wrote to staff. “As soon as I hear from DESE I will come to each school to meet with you and review just what ‘receivership’ will mean for the district and for you as individuals. The important thing to keep in mind is that for most of you, the change will not be drastic. However, it will mean that a receiver will provide the leadership to overcome some of the challenges we are facing.”
To whether he continued to object to the possible receivership, Mr. Connors said, “The school district is doing all the things that they can to move forward.
“We’re working closely with the School Committee to put ... (together) a budget to help get the resources we need to address some of the issues that we’re facing. I think, if the School Committee can hire a superintendent, we hire a new high school principal (to replace a resignation that will take effective June 30), and get the other help we need in terms of working with our language learners, that we can move forward, and the commissioner has to look at it from his perspective, as he said in his letter. The School Committee and I say continuously, we all want to do what’s best for our students.”