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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22, 2010, Regional Meeting

So, it is late, and I teach in 9 hours, and hence this will be relatively brief. But tonight was truly one of the oddest meetings we've had, and thus I wanted to get a quick update out to my blog readers.

There were two key votes taken: one selecting a superintendent search firm and one selecting a lawyer for the district. The first was supposed to be a quick vote to approve a superintendent search firm (we only received one bid from the four firms that we requested bids from). However, Kristen Luschen, from Shutesbury, made a motion (with absolutely no warning to other members of the SC) to appoint Maria Geryk superintendent, effective immediately, without conducting any search whatsoever. This motion was discussed at length -- and I encourage you to watch the meeting on ACTV - but briefly, all members from the hilltowns strongly supported simply making Maria permanent superintendent and not conducting any type of search (and they reported that this was the message they were receiving from members of their community). I was frankly shocked at this motion, in part because no members of the SC were given any notice about this motion, but also because this type of decision seems like one that clearly should have been announced on the agenda so that members of the public could have shared their views (this topic was NOT on the agenda). I was also quite surprised that members of the SC would feel comfortable appointing a permanent superintendent without any opportunity for public comment on such an appointment (which is precisely what my concern was in March when Maria was appointed for 16 months without any public comment). Moreover, no members of the SC have even seen her resume, and she has never undergone any sort of review of her performance; hence I am uncertain about our ability to evaluate her qualifications for this job and make such a major decision.

This motion was discussed at length, and ultimately was voted down, with all 5 members of the Amherst SC voting to conduct a search (and acknowledging that if Maria was the best candidate, surely she would be selected), and all 4 non-Amherst members voting to make Maria the permanent superintendent without any public comment or notice that this was even a possibility (NOTE: I have a correction to this statement below).

We then turned to discuss the legal representation of the district. Again, I encourage you to watch the whole meeting, but briefly, all members from the hilltowns spoke in favor of retaining our current counsel for all legal matters (special education and general counsel). Several members from Amherst (Steve, Irv, me) spoke about concerns with the current counsel (including concerns expressed by parents of students in special education, concerns about legal contracts such as the contract giving away control of the HS schedule and requiring spring parent-teacher conference in the elementary schools and including an invalid clause in the most recent superintendent contract). However, ultimately the vote was 5 to 4 in favor of hiring the Dupere law firm to represent us in special education (another vote with all Amherst members in favor, all non-Amherst members against), and then 5 to 4 in favor of retaining the current counsel for general counsel (all hilltown members were joined by Rick in the majority; the other 4 Amherst members voted for Deutsch & Williams).

Those were the "highlights" ... will do a more thorough update tomorrow sometime. But in conclusion, it was very clear at this meeting that SC members from the hilltowns are quite comfortable supporting the status quo -- maintaining our current interim superintendent permanently and maintaining our current law firm. And you see that members from Amherst are pushing for more change and a more open process -- requesting an open process by which we choose a superintendent (all Amherst members) and requesting a change in our legal counsel (all Amherst members with respect to special education counsel, 80% of Amherst members with respect to general counsel). The differences in view and perspective between Amherst SC members and non-Amherst SC members seems quite stark, and something I think we all need to take note of.

*****************************************************************************************

I am just adding a few other items of business that occurred last night.

First, we appointed a subcommittee of the three chairs to create the superintendent's goals and evaluation (Irv, Rick, Debbie). That system worked effectively last time and I believe will be useful again.

Second, we learned from Rob Detweiler that the regional schools had paid an additional $150,000 to charter schools for reimbursement ABOVE our projections, again showing that some families continue to opt out of our public schools (and more than we expected).

Third, we learned from Rick Hood that members of the CBAC group aren't so interested in continuing their work on budget stuff, which is disappointing. I've heard from members of this group that they were frustrated with the lack of support they received from the administration, which made it difficult for them to compile the data they needed.

Fourth, we agreed to appoint a task force to study whether school times should be changed (either delaying elementary and regional start times OR delaying the start times of all schools). There will be an announcement on the website for those who are interested in serving on this task force.

Fifth, we conducted a first read of several policies (attendance, anti-bullying) -- these policies will be posted on the ARPS website soon for public comment. Policy meetings are also open to the whole community for those who want to attend in person.

One final note: I will be posting a summary of the last Amherst meeting in which the Union 26 arrangement was discussed soon -- look back here if you are interested in learning more about this unique agreement!

************************************************************************************************* One more note: I wrote the initial blog posting last night after midnight and was exhausted, and thus didn't fully describe the relatively lengthy proceedings, and so I want to correct something for the record: the unanimous support from the hill town representatives was NOT to hire Maria permanently without public comment -- it was to suspend the hiring of the search firm so that we could hear from the community regarding whether a search should be conducted. However, the effect of such a vote to suspend the search would, I believe, largely be the same as simply appointing Maria for several reasons.

First, the motion initially made by Ms. Luschen (and seconded I believe by Kip Fonsch from Leverett) was to hire Maria as the permanent superintendent. Clearly at least these two people supported the immediate hiring of Maria without any public comment (although neither member from Pelham supported this motion). Second, the bid we received from the search firm expired in 5 days, and it was the ONLY bid we received to do this work. Thus, had we lost thet bid (and certainly there is no SC meeting planned in the next 5 days at which we could have voted to accept the bid), we likely would have lost this search firm -- and at the prior meeting, both Ms. Luschen and Ms. Gould (from Pelham) spoke passionately about the importance of hiring a major firm to assist us with recruiting candidates. In turn, voting to suspend hiring this firm would have led, even if the search continued, to losing this firm and thereby having to do the search on our own, which all parties had agreed was a bad idea in terms of recruiting qualified candidates at the last meeting (and is a particular bad idea when there is an internal candidate). I believed last night, and continued to believe, that even if Maria is the best candidate, she will be far better served (and in turn, our schools will be far better served) by going through a fair and open process in which her abilities/experiences/ideas are demonstrated than by being appointed in a highly controversial and clearly split vote (as it was very clear the majority of Amherst members weren't comfortable appointing her without a search).

32 comments:

Alison Donta-Venman said...

Catherine, can you remind us what proportion of the students who will be governed by the Superintendent come from the hilltowns? Is it 44%? I doubt it but from your meeting summary, it looks as if they get 44% of the vote in deciding who the Superintendent will be. Just as is the case with Union 26, it is another case of unequal representation for Amherst taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

That meeting was quite a spectacle. I was stunned at the spontaneous outpouring of love for MG by those whose jobs she controls. Is it any wonder that staff will vocally support someone who is responsible for their paycheck ?

Had I known that last night's meeting was about MG I would have stood up to make a comment. Too late.

Also remarkable is Farshid Hajir. Doesn't he understand that his time is done? Tedious and trivial. Good thing no one takes him seriously anymore.

Rick Hood is to be congratulated for standing up and leading. Thank you Rick. We appreciate your considered decisions and firm stand with the residents of Amherst.

Anonymous said...

I know Kristen Luschen and so I'll comment anonymously. She pulled her kid from ARMS and put him in a charter school. That's her right and good for her for looking out for her kid's best interests, but that clearly disqualifies her for service on the regional SC if she is unwilling to send her own child to one of the two schools the regional SC oversees.

And, how on earth can the SC hire a superintendent who has never even shown them her cv?

Anonymous said...

Per the newly adopted National Health Care Policy...the list of the initial changes that will go into effect on Thursday. (9/23/10)

...Children of parents with insurance will be allowed to remain covered under those policies until the age of 26.

Catherine,
How can Amherst not follow this law? Told by Central Office that this coverage will be enacted next summer. Possible legal action?

Anonymous said...

Catherine, I wouldn’t assume that the hilltown reps’ support for Maria Geryk amounts to support for the status quo. Many of us in the community (and I am an Amherst resident) believe that ARPS has gone through so much personnel-related upheaval over the last couple of years that stability is an absolute necessity. There are many in the community who do not have the stomach for a protracted (and possibly contentious) search process. It would be one thing if Maria Geryk seemed incompetent, but so far she’s been great. She’s been accessible (the frequent coffee hours, the superintendent’s journal), she’s appointed a much-needed curriculum director, and she’s set up this very promising collaboration between the schools and the UMass dept. of education. Let’s not foment a conflict between Amherst and the hilltowns.

Rick said...

I just want to make a couple of comments on the search discussion:

1. I believe what actually happened is that we did not vote on the motion to appoint Maria, but rather I ruled it out of order because we needed Union 26 to be there in order to make an immediate appointment. But it got very confusing because I believe an amendment was made to that motion which might on its own be fine to vote on, but any amendment to the original out-of-order motion would not be able to be voted on, so while the amended motion might have seemed OK to vote on, I was unsure. In hindsight I wish I could have been quicker to gauge whether the motion was valid or not and what exactly was going on with amendments. It would not have taken up so much time if I had been able to do that.

We did vote to hire the search firm – that was a different motion and vote.

2. Please everyone try not to criticize school committee members for making motions. It is their right to do so. Yes I definitely prefer advance notice on such a major motion, but I defend the right for any SC member to make a motion at any time.

This is very hard, with strong and rational opinions on both sides, so let’s please try to not to blow anything that happened last night out of proportion, it will just not be helpful for any of us.

I would really appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

I don't see stating facts as being critical.

LarryK4 said...

You better reread the new Open Meeting Law rules Mr. Hood. No, you cannot make a "major motion" at any time with out advance notice.

It's called the AGENDA, and it has to be set 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Kate said...

Larry,

The new OML states that the notice for the meeting shall include:

a listing of topics that the chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed at the meeting.

This isn't the same as an agenda, and it also doesn't preclude unanticipated motions by other members of the board.

Alisa V. Brewer said...

Actually, Larry, you know as well as anyone that the OML revisions do *not* require an AGENDA, but a list of topics. And there is a difference, until the AGO/Division of Open Government rule otherwise.

All the training provided so far by various people from the state to various audiences have said it's not impossible to address something that isn't on the list of topics. Given that the superintendent search is a constant topic, I find it really hard to imagine the *AGO* saying this was inappropriate.

Of course, the School Committee members themselves always have that power based on doing their work and their standard practices.

Abbie said...

It has been clear to me that the hill towns were likely to try to derail the open search for superintendent. So no surprise to me, I was just waiting for the 'how'.

I look forward to seeing the video of the meeting to learn the rationale for *immediately* moving to permanently appoint Ms. Geryk. Had they already gotten the go ahead from Ms. Geryk?

I will be at the front of the line pushing to hire Ms. Geryk, if after an open search, she is the best candidate. But I will be furious if an open search isn't conducted. We must have a transparent process. This open process could very well find that Ms. Geryk is the best candidate. It would be appalling if the SC appointed someone without a full and open process where community members at least have the impression that they had a voice in the process.

It seems entirely reasonable for folks to criticize the non-Amherst SC members for trying to subvert an open process.

I don't think our system has been seriously wounded by the past couple of years or rather so wounded that new leadership would be lethal. This is a weak argument.

I would welcome an explanation by those who push the healing route (via Ms. Geryk) about those wounds. I suspect that if there are wounds, many were a product of persistent neglect rather than being inflicted.

To anon@959:
If Ms. Geryk has all the great qualities you present, then she may well end up being the top candidate in an open search.

Just an FYI: the best way to make consumers (ie students and parents) happy is to give the impression that you 'care'. It is relatively easy to have coffees with consumers, etc. It is easy to meet with parents and listen, the difficult part is making important and significant changes.
In the end what matters is the product. I hope the products produced under Ms. Geryk's time are of good quality. Time will tell.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Alison - good question. Amherst students make up 90% of the elementary schools (10% is Pelham) and about 75% of the regional students (25% is combined for the other towns). So, Amherst has about 80% of the enrollment and pays 80% of the costs, but has 56% of the vote in choosing a superintendent at the regional level -- and 50% of the vote in choosing a superintendent at the elementary level, thanks to Union 26 (and hiring a superintendent requires votes from the region AND from Union 26). It certainly seems like very unequal representation.

Anonymous 7:25 - I too was stunned by the meeting ... and by people's willingness to make such a serious and long-term decision without a full and open process. It was very, very disappointing.

Anonymous 7:52 - obviously all parents can choose where to send their own kids to school, including members of the SC. But I agree that hiring a permanent superintendent without seeing a resume is highly unusual -- and again, I can't imagine why any SC members would support such a decision.

Anonymous 7:57 - sorry, but I need more info on this -- can you email me privately and/or email the whole SC to clarify what is going on?

Anonymous 9:59 - I think it is very clear that the Amherst SC and the hilltown SC members really disagree about the process used to select a superintendent. And in terms of what I'm looking for in terms of a superintendent, I want someone who is an educational leader, who is focused on instruction and curriculum. I'm really not concerned about coffees and collaboration with the U Mass school of ed. If Maria demonstrates over time (which she will have more time to do this fall) her ability to implement much needed changes in our schools (e.g., math review, special ed review, intervention support), I'm sure she will be hired in January and that will bring stability. But I think any superintendent (internal or external) deserves widespread community support, and you don't create that by forcing such a permanent appointment without a full and open process.

Rick - so, I agree that Kristen's motion was out of order, but we should also note that all 4 members of the hill towns voted to delay the hiring of the search firm (which would have eliminated their application because it expired in 5 days). We should also note that ALL members of the SC voted unanimously at the last meeting to hire a search firm!

In terms of Kristen's motion -- sure, anyone can bring a motion. But her decision to do so lacked common courtesy to other members.

I remember when I made my motion to close Marks Meadow. I contacted the chair of the Amherst SC (Andy) and the superintendent (Maria) and I told them I intended to make this motion. We discussed it at a meeting in person, and it was placed on the agenda where ALL members of the SC saw it prior to the meeting. I didn't have to do that -- I could have surprised them with it, as Kristen did. But I didn't make that choice because I thought it would be rude and disrespectful to my colleagues and to the community.

Anonymous 10:36 - I agree!

Larry - that is certainly my understanding of the new open meeting law.

Kate - I think a basic sense of respect for fellow SC members and the public would lead SC members who intend to make major motions to convey those intentions prior to the meeting. This sets up a very dangerous precedent in which any SC member can make any motion on any topic without any notice to the chair or other members. Maybe I'd like to close Crocker Farm. Or move the 6th grade to the MS. Or require 9th grade physics. Those aren't thinks that should come as a surprise to the chair or other members or to the community, even though technically I could make motions on any of them.

Anonymous said...

Going along and getting along got us in the terrible situation we're in now with the schools. It took a Herculean effort to get Mike Hayes to do something at the Middle School. Nothing wrong with being confrontational, it's the only way things have gotten done so far. I think the hill town school committee reps are just plain lazy and don't want to go thru the process.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Alisa - given that at the last meeting, the topic of whether we should hire a superintendent search firm was discussed, and not a single member suggested not hiring a firm (or conducting a search), the motion last night (AFTER we had written bids for a search) was very surprising. And although it is technically possible that it was foreseeable, I don't think that makes it respectful of the other SC members or the community to announce this surprise decision. I could have made a motion last night to hire Dr. David Sklarz -- who, unlike Maria, did participate in a full and open superintendent search process, and received relatively widespread community support from parents. But I wouldn't have done so without alerting the chair and other members of the SC, because I think that would be disrespectful. I'm disappointed that Kristen made this choice and that her choice was supported by all members of the hill towns.

Abbie - well said. I agree with absolutely 100% of what you said.

Anonymous 2:18 - I'm not going to comment on motives of those from the hill towns, but I'm certainly mindful that several members of the hill towns are wearing different hats. One of the Pelham members is married to an ARHS teacher, and the Leverett member is a former ARHS teacher. Thus, comfort with things as they are is probably much higher among at least those members of the hill towns than among Amherst members.

Kate said...

Catherine,

I wasn't intending to speak to the propriety of any particular motion being offered, just responding to Larry's assertion that it's illegal under the new OML to do so.

Facts are important.

LarryK4 said...

Kinda funny that Select Board member Brewer corrects me on my assertion that you cannot come up with a "major motion" for discussion/vote without it appearing on the agenda.

But she well knows that on 8/30 when I asked the SB to fly the flags on 9/11, Princess Stephanie blew me off saying they couldn't vote on it because it had not appeared on the agenda as a likely topic of discussion that night...Even though I had appeared before the illustrious SB every late August for nine consecutive years to make the request.

Hmm...I guess it depends whose ox is being gored.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon 7:57 (healthcare for adult children)
It's my understanding that the law requires new policies to cover adult children up to age 26. Existing policies get grandfathered in till they renew. So over the next year, policies will renew, and those renewals will be subject to the requirement.

(There was some discussion on NPR about this very confusion this morning.)

Nina Koch said...

"I want someone who is an educational leader, who is focused on instruction and curriculum. I'm really not concerned about coffees and collaboration with the U Mass school of ed."

The collaboration with the UMass School of Ed is about instruction and curriculum It's all about that. See the description:

Partnership

The coffees are about that too. It's a chance for members of the community to talk about their ideas for educating our children. Listening to such ideas is part of being an educational leader, which is what you said you care about.

I think the best qualification someone can demonstrate for a job is being in the job and doing it well. That's pretty darn qualified. But if you want information about her past experience and education, it's here:

Profile

While I believe that Maria is currently doing an excellent job in her position, that doesn't mean I support appointing her immediately as permanent superintendent. She hasn't even said she definitely wants the position. I think the most prudent course of action would be take this year to decide if we want to search or not. It would allow us to make a better decision about the need to search and if we decide to search, the extra time would allow us to conduct a better search.

Anonymous said...

I guess that I perceive a bit of a box being created here for those of us who are inclined to agree with the Sanderson view or even the more tentative, more "wait and see" Abbie position. And it's familiar to me from another political context: federal taxes.

If you support repealing the Bush tax cuts and, let's say, getting back to the old tax rates that existed under that progressive Ronald Reagan, well, buddy, YOU are engaging in class warfare. Doesn't matter what argument you use--deficit hawk, middle class needs the relief more, the revenue generated from the repeal of the cuts could benefit schools, etc.--it all gets siphoned into fomenting "class warfare". There's no escape.

Well, if you think that the schools could benefit from a full superintendent search and you don't assume that Maria Geryk is necessarily the best candidate for the job, well, YOU SIR, are not sufficiently supportive of our schools. AND now you are fomenting political conflict with the hilltowns: shameful. There's no escape.

In the realm of political argument, it's a master stroke, because, in essence, there is no argument.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Dear Nina, thanks for including that link to the profile of Ms. Geryk. I had not seen that before. As a parent at Crocker Farm, a school that is in corrective action, and a school that has been plagued by some very serious issues that have only begun to be corrected in the last year by a very hard working and well-intentioned School Committee, I am very concerned about who our permanent Superintendent should be.

Regarding the Regional SC vote not to go forward with hiring a search firm for a Superintendent search, as far as I can tell, there is nothing in the hill towns that is similar to what Crocker Farm has been and has gone through over the last several years. I don't want regional SC members trying to make big decisions for our district when they really don't know and perhaps don't even care about my child's school. There is nothing about Crocker that is similar to Shutesbury or Leverett or Pelham, for example. NOTHING.

My concern with Ms. Geryk is that she has been an insider for many years, years in which some very bad things happened to our schools in my opinion-- ethnic clustering, the spiraling downward of test scores, the loss of confidence in the middle school (which I understand is improving). I am also concerned that she was so closely involved with special ed in this district and as far as I can tell that budget is so disproportionately high and that whole dept has been plagued with major problems. I am personally aware of several failed lawsuits against our district whereby we are now paying for some very expensive out of town services for special ed students. I am not sure about the details-- but this of course makes me concerned that not only have we had the wrong law firm handling our defense in these suits, but that we have had the wrong people in charge of special ed in general.

I realize that Ms. Geryk is also a hard working person and well-intentioned but I am not at all comfortable with suspending a search for another year given all that we have been through.

Respectfully to all of you who want to keep putting things off, my child does not have another chance at second grade or third grade or any grade, and not only is each year vitally important for my child, but each day is vitally important. I think that parents in this community really need to stand up and get in on this discussion in a public way. It seems to me that there are too many people with no children in the schools or with a vested interest in the status quo (district personnel) who are looking to protect someone other than our kids.

Thank you.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

More from me:

Nina - I do agree that examining someone's performance in their job is important, and that is why I hope a search will bring forth candidates who can demonstrate precisely what they've done in the jobs they've held in their own districts. And, in the meantime, the community can learn the plans Maria decides to implement as a result of her collaborations and coffees. I believe many parents, and perhaps even some SC members, are waiting to see actions that have a direct impact on the quality of education in our district, and would be very encouraged by concrete steps taken by the current interim superintendent. Perhaps she'd help adopt recommendations for improving our math curriculum, following Dr. Chen's report. Perhaps she'd recommended a rigorous evaluation of the IMP program, or the 9th grade ecology requirement, or an increase in the HS graduation rates that are now the lowest in the state. I share your belief that it is too early to simply appoint Maria, and certainly expect that in the next few months we will all learn more about the actions she implements (and certainly many of these actions could be in place prior to the selection of a permanent superintendent in January).

Rich - as always, well said. And really depressing.

Anonymous 10:35 - your post is extremely thoughtful -- thank you. One of the major frustrations I have is why Amherst SC members are expected to seek the same qualities in a superintendent as those from the hill towns -- when, as you note, the populations are very, very different. The Amherst schools are currently 1/3 kids on free and reduced lunch, whereas that percentage is significantly smaller than in all of the hill towns. Similarly, the Amherst schools are far more diverse in terms of students of color and students with English as a second language. It is natural that the characteristics Amherst residents seek in a superintendent are different from those sought by members of the hill towns, particularly since we have schools that are failing to make AYP and that are losing enrollment regularly. I believe we need someone who can solve the very real problems that current exist in our schools -- including a lack of consistent instruction and differentiation, a lack of rigor in some departments/disciplines, and a lack of interest/willingness to engage in serious evaluation and comparison to other districts. I have no idea if Maria is interested in these topics, or if she is capable of making such changes, but certainly a full and open search allows us the best chance of finding out the strengths and weaknesses of all candidates (internal and external). Finally, I share your hope that parents and community members in Amherst will now have the courage to become involved in this discussion -- because as of now, the major proponents of maintaining the status quo (at least as judged by the Bulletin pages) are former administrators in our schools who seem highly resistant to efforts to make serious changes.

Anonymous said...

"or an increase in the HS graduation rates that are now the lowest in the state"

Catherine-

I assume when you wrote the above you meant HS "graduation requirements" as that has been one of your consistent issues. I think you would be breaking a pretty major story if our graduation RATES were the lowest in the state.

Sam I Am

Anonymous said...

"an increase in the HS graduation rates that are now the lowest in the state"

What data are you looking at?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My response -- Oops -- the hazards of typing while tired -- yes, I meant HS graduation REQUIREMENTS, not rates, in math and science. This seems like a very easy fix Maria could accomplish soon, since our requirements are in fact the lowest in the state and I'd imagine the current HS principal and interim superintendent would both share a strong desire to demonstrate high expectations for all kids. Mark Jackson has expressed concern about the subgroup differences in math/science course-taking, so clearly this is a concern already within our district (for good reason).

Anonymous said...

10:35 The SC may do many things well but any positive changes at CF can really be attributed to a change in leadership in the building. An ineffective principal is a killer for any school and CF had one for many, many years.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 8:14 - I agree that a change in leadership at CF was very helpful. But I also believe redistricting to achieve greater equity in our schools was a very important step in improving CF, and I've heard that repeatedly from parents in this school. And the redistricting was entirely accomplished by the SC.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

One more thing to Anonymous 8:14 - I also think the point of the post from the CF parent was that SC members might be focused on different things in a superintendent, GIVEN the very different nature of the schools in Amherst (and their population) than the small towns. That seems very plausible. And it is important to remember that in our current system, a superintendent can be hired with the approval of just 1 Amherst SC member (20%), even though Amherst pays 80% of the superintendent's salary.

Abbie said...

I find it very interesting that some folks who are critical of what they view as 'bullying' behavior by the Amherst SC seem to be fine with, indeed enthusiastic about, the dictatorial move made by the hill towns at the last meeting. They attempted to directly appoint Ms Geryk as the permanent SI without ANY open process or review. They wanted it done RIGHT then. Any actions done by Amherst SC members pales by comparison with the hubrus of the hill town SC members at the last meeting.

Wake-up folks- we aren't living in North Korea. It wasn't right and it wasn't ethical. Yes, anyone can move a motion (as Rick points out) but that doesn't mean folks can't be outraged by that motion.

in the dark said...

As I recently watched a recording of a school committee meeting, it was the first time that I became aware that the contract with teachers does not require spring parent-teacher conferences for all students. I am looking for more information on this, so I can feel a little less in the dark about this, since the conferences seem very important to me. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There are no spring parent-teacher conferences at the middle school. From my own personal experience at the middle school, the fall parent-teacher conference was a BIG ZERO. The teacher I had the conference with only got input from my son's other teachers, and basically told me nothing. I told him some things about my son and he NEVER shared any of that information with his other teacher's, like maybe my son would do better if he wasn't stuck in the back of the classroom. We left Amherst Schools after 7th grade. Best decision we ever made.

Anonymous said...

BTW, my kids did private school for middle and high school and both schools not only offered fall and spring conferences, the teachers were available practically 24/7. No union contract to get in the way of communications. We met with EVERY single teacher, athletic coach and librarian twice a year for every year.

Anonymous said...

When you pay all that money to send your child to private schools you get the access to the teachers that you are speaking of. That's why you pay all that money. Public schools don't offer the same perks as a private school...never have, never will.