Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why The Delay?

Mitchell Chester
The DESE will hold a public hearing on whether or not the public school district in Southbridge will be taken over by the state. It will hold that meeting next Monday starting at 4:30 in the auditorium at the old high school.

The following day the Board of Directors of the DESE will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at Roxbury Community College. On the agenda is a discussion  of the Southbridge case. However, Commissioner Chester has indicated that he does not expect a vote to be held until the Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on February 23rd. 

I have to wonder why the vote is not being held on January 26th. In the case of Holyoke, a public hearing was held on April 27th and a vote was taken at the Board meeting the next day, April 28th. 

In the case of Holyoke there was strong community opposition to the state takeover.

That does not appear to be the case in Southbridge. If anything there seems to be a strong sentiment that a state takeover is the last hope for the district.

In addition there appears to be strong evidence that the local school committee is doing everything that it can to thwart plans for a state takeover. Tonight they are meeting to interview candidates for the position of full time superintendent. Current plans are to vote on the candidates on January 26th. I wouldn’t put it past them to move the vote up to tonight.

Yesterday the school committee chairman levelled a broadside at all involved in the process. Simultaneously he absolved himself and his colleagues from any culpability despite evidence to the contrary. 

I can see no real reason for the DESE to put off its vote until February. If anything such an action will only allow the local committee to further complicate matters and prolong uncertainty within the community.


  1. Quality education delayed is quality education denied.

  2. One can only hope that the Board is so discussed by what they hear, that they will hold the vote the next day.

  3. If the School Committee hires a Superintendent and the state takes over, will the town have to pay the full amount of the contract?

    1. In Holyoke, where there was already a superintendent, the city and DESE agreed to split the cost for one year with the superintendent serving as a consultant. In Southbridge there is first the question of whether the state, if it does take over, will do so before any contract becomes effective. Beyond that the contract will probably contain some kind of term related to this issue. Whatever happens I don't see the state helping out because the Commissioner advised us to hold off.

  4. My guess is the DESE recognizes the potential quagmire. They currently have two low income districts. Why would they want more? There is no doubt they know the sociology research: There is no evidence that a predominantly low income district will perform at the same level as middle and upper income districts.

    The most the DESE can realistically do is correct some obvious administrative shortcomings like the lack of ELL teachers. They won't be able to significantly move the needle in results compared to middle and upper income districts.

  5. Check BESE agenda it was updated!!!
    Items for Discussion and Action:
    Southbridge Public Schools: Commissioner's Recommendation on Level 5 District Status - Discussion and Possible Vote

    1. Thank you. I've posted that as Breaking News.

    2. Your welcome. Hopefully the next breaking news will be State places Southbridge Schools into receivership.


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