Sunday, January 10, 2016

Connors Will Recommend Splitting Middle/High School

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.”


  1. I have felt for a long time that this issue was nothing more than a red herring. I finally decided to check. I found 13 middle/high schools in Massachusetts (there may be more). Every one of them has only one principal.

    Georgetown Middle/High School 1 Peter Lucia

    Avon Middle High School 1 Elizabeth York

    Manchester Essex Regional Middle High School 1 Patricia Puglisi

    West Boylston Middle High School 1 Christopher Fournier

    Mashpee Middle/High School 1 Mark L. Balestracci

    Carver Middle High School 1 Scott Knief

    Lee Middle and High School 1 Gregg M. Brighenti

    Lenox Memorial Middle and High School 1 Michael Knybel

    Hoosac Valley Middle and High School 1 Jeremiah Ames

    Quaboag Middle High School 1 Mary LaFreniere

    Holbrook Junior - Senior High School 1 Dr. Mary Ann DeMello

    Tahanto Regional Middle/High School 1 Diane Tucceri

    West Bridgewater Middle-Senior High School 1 Mark Bodwell

  2. My guess is the preponderance of families that take little interest or involvement in their children's' education is a major factor in the district's problems. That just feeds the instability. Receivership won't be a cure all, but it will result in education professionals making decisions rather than the hapless school committee.

  3. Haplessville ResidentJanuary 11, 2016 at 1:22 AM

    Superintendent Ely claimed the State recommended that the schools be consolidated.

    The examples of Middle High Schools provided by Mr. O'Brien are in places very different than Southbridge. They are true town's. We are a duty disguised as a town in name only. Maybe in the 1960's and '70's such a plan would have worked here.

  4. Haplessville ResidentJanuary 11, 2016 at 1:34 AM

    *we are a City disguised..

    1. We are a city only in terms of the form of government we have. As regards size and makeup we are as much a town as any example given.

    2. Haplessville ResidentJanuary 11, 2016 at 8:58 PM

      Sorry, I respectfully disagree. We likely have more crack dealers in our "town" than all the examples you provided combined.

      Years ago, in inclimate weather I would offer pedestrians a ride, but I don't do it anymore because usually the men offer to sell crack or heroin when I pull over and most of the woman offer to sell their bodies. Sadly some of these adults have children in our achools.

      Thirty five years ago, the difference between Southbridge and Sturbridge was a border, now we are more like Roxbury.

      Your management analysis took some time, and would apply to a business, but schools are different. Rbe well done analysis was very Reaganesque, but our schools have not been privatised-yet.
      Principals are an authority figure to the students as well as tbe teachers. The students are not customers(perhaps the parents are customers), they are a part of the school community.

    3. The fact is that you’ve got two principals, Ms. Earls and Ms. Sweetman. Each of them has an assistant principal. I fail to see how this accomplishes anything other than greater expenditures on administration rather than on money for teaching and supplies. Please explain to me, in concrete terms, how the actual administration of the school differs from any of the examples I’ve given. You make a lot of assertions, but none of them are supported by any facts or logic. How do two rather than one principal impact crack dealing or prostitution? How is the application of management principles any different in a school than it is in a business or another government agency? All you and those favoring this plan seem to do is assume that it will change things without giving any specifics as to how or why.


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