My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Amherst School Board's Minutes Reveal Debate Over Pay

There has been a lot of discussion in this community, and on this blog, about the School Committee's vote regarding the superintendent's salary, and thus I'm posting an article from today's Hampshire Gazette on this issue. I want to go on record as saying that I look forward to working with Dr. Rodriguez when he starts on July 1st, and I very much hope he can provide leadership to our schools that will move our schools in a positive direction. I hope that leadership includes a willingness to engage in a thoughtful and rigorous evaluation of both the strengths and weaknesses of all of our schools (based on objective and empirical data, not personal anecdote and intuition) as well as a commitment to looking outside Amherst to make appropriate comparisons and to learn from the experience of other districts. Regardless of his salary, and people's feelings about appropriateness of this salary given the challenging economic times for our schools, we need to support Dr. Rodriguez in his efforts to provide valuable leadership at this crucial time.


By MARY CAREY

Friday, May 1, 2009

AMHERST - School Committee members offered incoming Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez a lower salary at first, but voted to offer him the $158,000 he will be getting now, after the Florida principal said that he could not afford to take a pay cut to come to Amherst.

Minutes of the closed-door session at which board members reconsidered the vote they had taken earlier were released Thursday at the request of Town Meeting member Larry Kelley. The committee had previously offered Rodriguez a package amounting to some $10,000 less than the one he will receive.

The decision to pay a new superintendent about $24,000 more than the former superintendent has been greeted with dismay in some quarters. Critics say the School Committee should not have agreed to the sum or to pay him $15,000 for moving and housing costs.

Rodriguez is currently principal of Westland Hialeah Senior High School outside Miami. He begins his job in Amherst on July 1.

According to the minutes of the committee's March 4 meeting, Kathryn Mazur, the district's human resource director, told committee members that she had spoken to Rodriguez twice by phone and he had said he could not accept the initial salary offered.

"She then explained the details of the higher salary and the additional benefits that he had requested in order to accept the position," wrote Elaine Brighty, who was a committee member at the time and took the minutes.

Brighty moved to reconsider the salary, a move seconded by Andy Churchill, who moved to offer Rodriguez the higher salary and benefits. "After considerable discussion," the board approved them by a vote of 4-2.

Brighty, Churchill, Tracy Farnham and Michael Katz voted in favor of the higher salary. Catherine Sanderson and Michael Hussin voted against it.

"I felt we had to be careful about overextending ourselves," Sanderson said Thursday. "I was hesitant about offering that high a salary because the budget had fallen apart and the financial situation of the country has changed since we began the search. I was concerned about the appearance of giving a very high salary to someone as we ask teachers to freeze their salaries."

Sanderson said she also felt giving Rodriguez a high salary would put him at a disadvantage coming into the community, particularly when she and some others were not convinced that his experience in Florida was the best fit for Amherst.

She got the impression that Rodriguez was suggesting he would not come to Amherst if he were not offered a higher salary, Sanderson said. "But you never know what someone will do until they do it."

The other thing that influenced her vote, she said, was that the current interim superintendent, Maria Geryk, is doing such a good job.

"If he had walked, I actually felt very comfortable with the leadership that Maria is providing," Sanderson said. "I think she could have served in the interim position for another year and a half."

Michael Hussin, who was chairman of the Regional School Committee at the time but did not run for re-election to the board, said he had reconciled himself to the base salary of $158,000.

"That was the reality. I had accepted that that was what we were going to have to pay."

But he wanted to see if board members could reduce the $15,000 house and travel allowance that Rodriguez will be paid for two years.

School committee members had been back and forth several times with Rodriguez, however, and some of them said there had been enough negotiating, Hussin said.

Mary Carey can be reached at mary.carey@att.net.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

In short, he threatened to walk and we blinked.

We can't continue to do this.

And the next music you'll hear this budget season is "The Sound of Silence" about other proposed solutions to our fiscal mess that might involve shared sacrifice by area businesses (like meals taxes), taxpayers (like an override), and town and school employees (like wage concessions).

This discussion is over before it ever began.

Anonymous said...

I agee - we blinked and we shouldn't have. The SC should have held their ground. Especially in light of the wonderful job Maria Geryk has been doing. That should have given the SC more backbone. We would have done fine if we had said no to Dr. Rodriquez's demands and then relied on Maria while searching again. Perhaps we would not have had to look far - perhaps Maria would have taken the job.

But this is all water under the bridge at this point - Dr. Rodriquez has been hired and the terms of his contract have been set. I agree that we should welcome and support him in his efforts to make the Amherst schools the best they can be.

I hope the SC has learned a lesson in all of this. And I hope that Dr. Rodriquez proves that he is worth every penny of what we are paying him.

Anonymous said...

That's right. The discussion is over. Who will have the audacity to ask other town and school employees to take a pay cut when this kind of unprecedented money in this town is being doled out.

Unless the superintendent is more important than the rest of us. That makes a lot of sense. Pay someone who never interacts with children the most money and those who interact with children all day, 5 days a week a lot less.

Yes, it fits the Orwellian patterns we like.

- Larre Keli

Anonymous said...

Honestly, do you expect the SC to be able to play hardball in hiring negotiations? This is Amherst after all. We hire a geriatic retiree whose last employer stated that he was difficult to work with.
That didn't stop us, did it? So why would anyone think that we could call a candidate's bluff? As my daughter would say --- "Get real".

Alison Donta-Venman said...

I agree that by paying our new superintendent this level of salary/housing allowance, it will hinder the School Committee in any negotiations it may have been considering with the teachers' unions regarding salary freezes, etc. to help balance the budget. I wouldn't blame our teachers for resisting such a request now. Perhaps Dr. Rodriguez will surprise us and arrive in town and give back his housing allowance...in the name of "shared sacrifice."

Anonymous said...

Who is the "geriatic retiree whose last employer stated that he was difficult to work with."

LarryK4 said...

That would be BIG Al Sprague (and his wife Helen Vivian).

Pay attention.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry!

LarryK4 said...

No problem (my life is but to serve)

Joe said...

Could the negotiations have resulted in a lower total compensation? Probably, yes. Is it realistic to believe that we could conduct a national search and hire someone for the same amount that the Superintendent was paid a few years ago, when most other people employed by the school system received raises over the same time period? Probably, not.

For those that favored one of the other candidates, would they find the salary level as offensive if their number one choice was selected?

So, the salary is likely $10,000 too high and the moving/travel expenses are probably double what was needed.

If you want to focus on a failed negotiation that has a much greater impact on the budget, look no further than the most recent contract with the teachers. For those that believe that the current contract with the teachers is really aligned with “every student, every day”, I ask you to consider the millions of dollars spent without differentiating for excellence. I believe there are many outstanding teachers in the school system paid below their true value based upon the quality of their teaching and the impact they have on our children. Can we structure a contract for teachers that places greater emphasis on the quality of teaching than years of service? I believe we can, but will we?

Anonymous said...

Catherine
GET REAL...YOOUR CANDIDATE FROM WEST HARTFORD IS MAKING A LOT MORE THAN $158,000....WOULD YOU HAVE OFFERED HIM A 30% PAY REDUCTION...IF YOU DID HE WOULD HAVE SAID NO.....WOULD YOU TAKE A PAY REDUCTION OR A SALARY BELOW MARKET LEVEL....SO DON'T MAKE YOURSELF LOOK GOOD BY SAYING YOU VOTED FOR A LOWER SALARY FOR A PERSON YOU DIDN'T WANT IN THE FIRST PLACE AND YOUR CANDIDATE WOULD HAVE DEMANDED A MUCH HIGHER SALARY!!

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 12:52 - I agree with much of what you said ... which is why I didn't vote for the salary at its current level.

Anonymous 1:29 - excellent points. All of them.

Anonymous 1:37 - I actually think the superintendent SHOULD be paid more than anyone else in the district, because of the pressure and responsibility and visibility and time demands. I just don't think we should have paid what we paid for someone who is "unproven" in this role (e.g., superintendent in general, experience in our community in particular).

Anonymous 1:48 - I certainly tried to play hard ball!

Alison - I share your hope!

Joe - I agree with your analysis about the impact of the salary/housing/travel allowance, and about the recent teacher contracts (which included NOT having elementary teachers at least hold spring conferences!). I also agree that we should pay excellent teachers more. But I think there is a limited amount that can be done post-tenure ... meaning that we do not in fact pay based on quality, in part because this is difficult to measure (e.g., is it MCAS scores? parents' views?). How could we create such a system of merit-based pay?

Anonymous 4:16 - I'll just make two quick points here. First, I would have a much easier time justifying to the community a larger rate of pay for someone who had been a superintendent for 22 years, and thus had PROVEN his ability to do this job well (including an ability to do this job to SAVE money -- Dr. Sklarz had implemented a special ed review in W. Hartford that saved the district over $100,000 per year). So, yes, for me, I would have felt comfortable with this salary IF it was for a highly experienced superintendent with a proven track record. When I came to work at Amherst College, it was my first professor job, and I know I got paid less than colleagues who had previously been professors at other schools and thus had more teaching experience than I did. That seems like the way the world works, yes? Second, Dr. Sklarz was retiring from the CT system, and thus would have been eligible for a very nice pension based on years of service, which he would get as long as he didn't work in CT anymore. So, he might well have had lower salary demands than one might think, BECAUSE he was going to be having a very nice income already from his pension. Again, we aren't ever going to know what he would or would not have taken because he didn't get an offer.

LarryK4 said...

And, unlike nitwit Anons, some folks have a CORE--so the almighty dollar is NOT their main consideration.

Anonymous said...

Larry, does it make you feel like more of a man to bad mouth and insult people you don't know? I think it's greatly unnecessary.

LarryK4 said...

Not more; BUT certainly not less.

And yeah, I'm a MAN--a white one at that (and in the People's Republic of Amherst something, apparently, to apoligize over)

But you're an Anon. A cowardly nitwit one at that.

Anonymous said...

Alright, Larry's back. Love the "nitwit". Kinda missed it. Now, if only the Celtics can hold on, all will be right with the world.

Anonymous said...

There's only one controversy (and the attendant screaming) that would have been worse than this: the unholy hubbub that would have resulted if the negotiations with Rodriguez had broken down. It would have been a different group screaming and they know how to get very personal in their attacks. The School Committee would have gotten roasted. (not a Friars Club Roast)

In these circumstances, with the uniquely politically correct culture of Amherst being what it is, AND the apparent absolute insistence of the school staff that Rodriguez was their man, this negotiation was a box with no clearly marked EXIT signs for the School Committee, one in which Rodriguez was in a position to write his own ticket. Which is exactly what he did.

And now he will find that, as a result, he has less slack from the community than other hires would have had. I hope, for his sake, he's a quick study.

Anonymous said...

Larry, why does it bother you so much when one posts anonymously? And why do you stoop to name calling? Not very mature to say the least. Also I am curious why you found it neccessary to declare yourself as a 'white man.'
Anon. 12:10 a.m. Well said. Well said indeed!! ;-)
This question needs addressing. Do the schools (all schools in Amherst) have the same budget, meaning get their money from the same pot and if so is it the town that gives it out to the school? If this is what I suspect than how on earth can anyone pay a superintendent this high of an amount and close a school at the same time? Just trying to gain some rational here.

Rick said...

I will come to Larry’s defense of anon posting being a bad thing. Here is why I think anon is bad:

Have you ever thought something about someone, and then asked yourself “would I say that to their face”? If so, does that cause you to rethink what you would say, and perhaps even consider that maybe you were not thinking correctly, or at a minimum, overreacting?

That is why anon posting is bad. It relieves people from the obligation of thinking before they speak.

Rick said...

Also, I don’t buy the “fear of retaliation” argument. Somebody tell me one instance of retaliation that occurred because you spoke out. Be specific. And make sure to include whether when you spoke out you were being a total jerk or not. I would argue that speaking out in a courteous way will never get you the least bit of “retaliation”.

Anonymous said...

Wow, naivete reigns! In this day and age, you cannot be serious.

Anonymous said...

I used to think as Rick does about anonymous posting.

But, given the freedom with which people are labeled as racists and bigots in this community for expressing their views, I no longer agree. I believe that such labeling went on in the meetings of the School Committee when they wrestled with this candidate's demands.

The fact is that we are paying a premium for Dr. Rodriguez, a premium that comes from having to demonstrate our bona fides on "diversity". He knew that, and he played it for all it was worth.

It was not about "the content of his character" but about his ethnicity. For me, if any of the candidates or Ms. Geryk had demanded the package that Dr. Rodriguez got, I would be upset about it. But, on that point, I'm sure that I would not be believed.

One cannot safely put one's own name on opinions like this in Amherst without suffering repercussions. I wish we had the level of civility that Rick thinks we have.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 12:10 - I really agree with what you wrote. All of it.

Anonymous 8:58 - all the schools basically share the same money ... but the reality is that closing MM saves about $700,000 a year. We are paying Rodriguez significantly less than that sum. So, I think it is a bit silly to compare those two facts. Jere Hochman left making about $150,000 (with benefits). If we paid Rodriguez EXACTLY that, we'd have saved about $25,000 a year. That would save half of one teacher ... again, I voted against the high salary, but I think it is silly to pretend that that salary doesn't fit with why we need to close a school.

Rick - good points re. anonymous bloggers. When I started this blog, I asked Stephanie O'Keeffee, world famous blogger, for advice. And she said exactly what you said -- don't put anything in this blog that you wouldn't say to someone's face. And that is what I have stuck with, in part because yes, I'm signing my name. The anonymous posters are fine, as far as I'm concerned, when they ask serious questions (e.g., has anyone thought of X?) or give specific suggestions (e.g., I'd rather have four languages starting in 7th grade than six languages starting in 8th grade) or when they give praise (e.g., I support that vote). I think the problem with the anonymous posters is when the comments are almost intentionally hateful (e.g., the School Committee obviously doesn't care about kids' learning). And then it seems odd that someone isn't willing to "own" that comment. I also think that the idea of retaliation is ridiculous ... I mean, I have NO POWER as a School Committee member whatsoever. But even if you believe in retaliation as a fear (e.g., Catherine is going to try to get teacher X fired?), I'm potentially suffering retaliation for my comments -- maybe my three kids will be treated poorly by the MS staff who hate that I want an evaluation of their school, or by the HS science teachers who are concerned about my criticism of their school. I think we have to assume that people will behave reasonably, and I certainly believe that reasonable behavior is more likely when people have to own it (as Larry Kelley does in his blog, as Rick and Alison Donta and some other posters do on my blog).

Anonymous 10:46 - I guess I'm naive ... but I do believe people are basically reasonable!

Anonymous 11:07 - I agree with much of what you've said ... and I've certainly been called a racist (and elitist). But here's the reality: I'm not a racist, and I know that. So, really, the word is offensive and upsetting, but this is just not an accurate characertization of me in any way, and hence I can easily see that the word is thrown around simply in an attempt to silence me. So, does it bother me when I'm called a racist (or elitist, or whatever)? Sure -- it doesn't feel good. But in reality, I know that it isn't TRUE. However, it is clear that we have now reached a point in Amherst (and maybe elsewhere?) that simply the fear of being called a racist can shut down all conversation. Another case in point -- an email went around on the Town Meeting list-serve a few weeks ago (which was posted on Larry Kelley's blog) in which it was noted that people who were complaining about the new superintendent's salary were criticizing that salary BECAUSE they were racist -- they would be glad to pay a "white person" that salary but not a person of color (which makes a HUGE assumption both that people wouldn't have criticized that salary for a white person and that people weren't criticizing the salary in part because Rodriguez is being paid substantially more than Hochman left making AND has no experience as a superintendent). Once again, this accusation of racism for those who dare to express concerns about the salary seems like a very good strategy for shutting down conversation, which strikes me as very, very unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Rick,
If Anon posting is such a 'bad' thing then why is it set up this way right here on this site? Anon. posting gives one the opportunity--for whatever reason--to have a voice. Just look at what happened to Ms. Greeney for speaking for the homeless, she was fired from an agency right here in Amherst. There is your example of someone speaking up and getting the boot of retatliation right up their open and free speaking unanonymous mouth. Ms. Greeney spoke respectful, courteous and without regret and yet she no longer has a job in Amherst. Point made.

Anonymous said...

And how does one rise above and accomplish good things in spite of being called racist? If you fold your cards aren't you admitting to the validity of this awful word? Aren't you taking the easy way out by submitting to the fear that one hopes to instill in others by misuse of this word? And I am not meaning to target you or single you out Catherine, but this is a pressing issue we all could use some help with addressing. Thanks.

Rick said...

Not much more to say on anon posting, except maybe to add that I could have said it’s not always a bad thing, only if it’s abused.

I’d like to say something on the subject of race:

Everyone needs to stop calling people racist, but at the same time realize that if you are white (like I am), you have no clue what it’s like not to be white.

Almost all of us white people fall into a place where we are certainly not racist, but we also don’t have an understanding of what it’s like, for example, to be the one of two black kids in an otherwise white classroom with a white teacher.

I believe that the black kids in that classroom may see things very differently from the white kids in that classroom, and that if you don’t take that into account somehow – and I have no idea how, but there are experts who do – that the quest for excellence will leave some of those kids behind.

It may be that all people of color are asking white people to do is understand that the students of color are different from the white students, and that teaching methods that work for one may not work for the other.

Maybe this analogy helps a little: isn’t it true that a teacher needs to deal with an introverted student differently than a student who is an extrovert? The introvert may never raise their hand, and so the teacher needs to think of ways to coax that student into participation, otherwise that student will get left behind. I imagine teachers may get trained in methods for dealing with such students. Students of color are different from white students like introverts are different from extroverts. Training teachers to deal with that difference is probably a good idea.

If race had anything to do with the hiring of the Superintendent – none of us knows if it did (except Catherine) – and if SC members thought Rodriguez would do a better job of understanding the difference between white students and students of color, and know how to deal with that, then to me that would be a valid factor in the decision making process. Note I said “if” because I don’t have any idea if that was the case or not.

Also note just FYI, from what saw with my own eyes, which was only about two hours worth, I thought Sklarz was the best candidate, so I am not a “Rodriguez fan”.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, training on how to teach with sensitivity to all 'races' is a workshop I have participated in and learned an awful lot. It is true that as a white person one has no idea what it is like to be a person of color, but I do not believe that entitles a person of color to call that white person a racist simply because s/he is not agreeing with what is being said.
And I think this may have been what went on in SC meetings during executive session. A time where the person abusing this word/situation can remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Oh get real. Do you really think that Sklarz would have taken a 40K paycut to accept the salary we offered Rodriquez.

LarryK4 said...

You never know until you ask.

Will somebody advertising a $500 used lawnmower in the Gazette classifieds take$300?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 3:08 - I don't know the specific details of what occurred with Ms. Greeney ... but I do think it is impossible to imagine that a person criticizing the school system for a legitimate reason would be fired. And if he/she was, it seems like a very winable law suit!

Anonymous 3:13 - I agree with what you've said. And I think it is important to recognize that the racist term can be used appropriately, but also can be used inappropriately. When it is used inappropriately, I believe it is imperative that a person stands up and refuses to accept that label ... which is what I have done when that word is used to describe me.

Rick - I agree with what you said, and I also think that if a person is hired for a job (any job) it is legitimate to consider all aspects of their ability to perform that job (so, perhaps hiring a person of color as a teacher OVER a white person could be seen as a way of decreasing the achievement gap by giving children of color a good role model). However, I also think it is important for people to recognize that people of color are not the ONLY people who care about issues of equity and diversity, nor are they the only ones who can solve such problems. One of the reasons why I supported Dr. Sklarz was because he talked extensively about strategies he had used to increase achievement in low income kids and kids of color. Again, he was/is white, but he seemed to have demonstrated an ability to use practical solutions to decrease the achievement gap. That isn't to say that Dr. Rodriguez won't have great ideas about how to accomplish this -- just that I don't think caring about or trying to solve the achievement gap can ONLY be done by people of color.

Anonymous 6:26 - I think you make an excellent point. The key thing for me is that whenever people have concerns that involve people of color, they are accused of racism ... and this leads to a situation in which NO ONE of color can ever be seen in a negative light (which seems in and of itself to be racist). So, parents at WW who had concerns about their African American principal were seen as racist, parents at the MS who had concerns about hiring an African American man who had been convicted of a felony were seen as racist, and parents/community members who are concerned about the salary being paid to our new superintendent are racist. Now, there may be racism involved in each of those cases by some people ... but there may also be legitimate concerns in at least some of these cases by some people who are not racist, yes?

Anonymous 7:35 - We are never going to have the answer to this question, right? Dr. Sklarz certainly knew that we weren't going to pay $200,000, which is basically what he was making, so he had to be willing to take some paycut to come to Amherst (all candidates were told the salary was going to be roughly $150,000). Again, he was also going to be receiving a large pension, so his take-home salary was not going to be his only source of income! But again, this seems like a moot point now, right? I'm not sure how this changes the analysis of what we are or are not paying Dr. Rodriguez?

Larry - Exactly. We will never know what Sklarz would or would not have taken ... so this is all major speculation. He applied for the job, and he knew the salary was about $150,000, and he was going to be getting a big pension from CT.

Anonymous said...

Is there a race of HIspanics? Have I missed something? HIspanics come from many countries and ethnic backgrounds and in many colors. Why is this term race being used regarding an individual who is Cuban-American?

Anonymous said...

Hispanic is certainly not a race and I do not believe anyone here is suggesting this. What we are attempting to address is the term 'racist' and how loosely this word can be used and the hurt that comes along with it when you are the one targeted.
Anon. 1:51 p.m. what 'race,' if I may, would you place someone of Cuban decent in? Just a question....no ill intent, but rather curiousity. Thanks...
I think agreement can be made that Hispanic is a culture and not race, then again this race idea is nothing more than a social concept and a means to keep people divided while the 'upper race/class' continue to prosper.

Anonymous said...

I would like to get to the point where no one is impugned as a racist either directly or indirectly.

But we currently have a School Committee member, Kathleen Anderson, who plays the race card constantly and no one calls her on it.

One night she spoke to members of the audience at a SC meeting and referred to them as "you wealthy white women". It was disgusting.

But the Town elects her again and again.

Anonymous said...

This revelation amazes me. How can a 'professional' group of people accept this kind of behavior? And I beg to differ with the fact that no one is being 'impugned' as racist. This term was directed at school committee member Catherine Sanderson during an executive session of a SC meeting. This is what brought this whole discussion of race to light.

Anonymous said...

The article does not explain how the difference between the original offer and the increased offer was established.

Was it a counter offer by the candidate? Did the HR person substantiate the candidates claims about current salary and benefits, as well as walk through the differential numbers the candidate proposed so that both sides felt that they are based in fact?


Can we say for a fact what percentage increase the candidate received to take this offer, from current comp at old job versus new job; and from last super's comp to current super's comp?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, isn't it also appropriate to address issues of age-ism? The efforts by administration to "encourage" so many veteran teachers to retire early is not an act of wisdom, much less good will. Perhaps it serves fiscal needs, but certainly not educational ones. The manner in which people are rendered expendable leaves a very bad taste. And what about teachers on the eve of their retirement having their positions reduced so they are no longer full time employees? I'm certain that significantly alters their retirement. In watching the school committee meeting of April 28, I noted how frequently Ms. Geryk responded to queries from school committee members with an answer that conveyed a knowledge of and sensitivity to staff concerns. I believed her, but have since learned otherwise. There are many outstanding teachers in our system and they deserve to be valued. I propose we let the students draw up our budget. They are the real consumers and I would have more faith in the integrity of the process.

Anonymous said...

At the meeting held in Marks Meadow most recent to discuss the closing of their school Maria Geryk presented herself as a very concerned listener. I walked away from that meeting with a fuller understadning of what a person who has mastered the skill of padronism (Dic.com 2.) is all about. If I had $0.1 for everytime she bobbed her head up and down and muttered hmmm...or yes...or you're doing fine....I would be a very rich person. Ms. Mazur runs a very close second in this display of a true patronizer.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 4:15 p.m.
I second your proposal!

Joe said...

Anon. 4:15 and 5:03

"I propose we let the students draw up our budget. They are the real consumers and I would have more faith in the integrity of the process."

So if you agree with this proposal, how about being more specific?

1. What specifically about the current process has caused you to lose faith in the integrity of the process?

2. I'm assuming you would let the students "draw up the budget" because it would better fit your ideal budget. How would this be different than what is being proposed? What would you add, what would you delete?

Anonymous said...

Specifically--the closing of an elementary school where children ages 5 to 12 must suffer the conquences of adults who could not balance a checkbook they were entrusted to. To name only one...

Anonymous said...

Anon. 5:02 p.m.: Learn how to spell patronizing and then maybe people will listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:01 p.m.
Look it up for yourself. There is no word misspelled nor misused, but thanks for your comment it shows someone is paying attention.

Anonymous said...

You're right; my apologies. (We'll overlook 'understadning', a typo I believe.)

Anonymous said...

If I had $0.1 for everytime she bobbed her head up and down and muttered hmmm...or yes...or you're doing fine....I would be a very rich person.

Called attending behavior.

Anonymous said...

I have been "lurking" on the various Amherst Blogs and find myself needing to share an observation, albeit somewhat off subject. That being the preponderance of criticism toward past Superintendents and Principals, all of whom are male.

At the same time, bloggers are praising the job that the Acting Super is doing as well as the job the WW Assistant Principal has done. (Wasn't she acting Principal at one time?) And of course, both are female.

Now we know that the teaching pool, those with actual teaching experience, is predominantly female. Yet, for some reason, we continue to assign positions of leadership to males. I really thought that this mind set had vanished.

I guess that I'm calling on people with the ability to change this situation to not just "talk the talk, but to walk the walk".

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with you. I am not praising, for a moment, 'the job' the current superintendent is doing or has done while she was the head of the special education department either. I think she is as corupt as the whole system is. I think she had to be blind, literally, to not see the abuses or listen to the concerns brought forward by those who experienced mistreatment by the sped administrators under her charge. I appreciate your view point but I don't really think that is going on here.
It is a male dominated society and male leaders--look at our presidents--appear to still hold the reigns.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 1:51 - good point!

Anonymous 3:55 - I agree that the racist label is used loosely and at times to shut down dialogue. And I think that is a problem.

Anonymous 5:07 - just to clarify ... Kathleen has won a seat on SC exactly once ... and there were only three candidates running for two seats. She is up for relection in the spring of 2010, FYI.

Anonymous 6:01 - I'm not going to comment on Executive Session stuff.

Anonymous 12:19 - I believe information on the initial offer is going to be released, due to a request for public records. Jere Hochman left making about $135,000 in base, and about $148,000 in total benefits (that compares to $158,000 and $173,000 - for two years).

Anonymous 4:15 - I am not really sure what you are implying here -- certainly older teachers are the only ones able to choose retirement, and the district has offered this ... but teachers are totally free to accept it or not. This is also a good way to try to avoid laying off the younger teachers!

Anonymous 5:02 - Maria Geryk feels terrible about the whole budget situation, and is in a terrible mess with trying to make cuts that impact children as little as possible. She nods because she agrees with the points being made -- do you think you'd prefer for her to sit and just stare at people without expression, or would she then be described as cold?!?

Anonymous 7:33 - we can keep all four schools open ... but if you think the children aren't going to suffer more from $700,000 worth of budget cuts, I'm surprised. If you think it is important to keep MM open, then you must believe it is OK to cut all instrumental music and specials and have larger class sizes, right?

Anonymous 11:37 - I agree.

Anonymous 11:42 - the SC only hires the Superintendent ... so we have no chance to hire others. I also think there are fewer women interested in the leadership jobs, in some cases (e.g., Maria did NOT apply for the superintendent job, and we have fewer women than men). But you raise a good point ... and it has occurred to me that is is striking that we have ONE female principal in our SIX schools.

Anonymous 4:07 - I believe Maria is doing a great job in a VERY difficult situation ... I also think a review of special education will be helpful to this district moving forward, and I'm glad we are going to do that.