First, there is a piece describing Maria Geryk's new superintendent contract (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/198893/). This is similar but not identical to the Gazette piece I posted earlier.
Second, there is a brief story about the Amherst elementary budget cuts proposed at this week's meeting (http://www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/198851/). I haven't done a blog posting summarizing that meeting, so I want to make three quick points:
- there is still no written agreement governing how costs are divided between Amherst and Pelham: so, Pelham with 10% of the enrollment and 25% of the elementary schools is still paying only 6% of central office costs and Amherst is paying 94% - which I still don't understand. Apparently the new goal of the budget subcommittee (Irv, Rick, Debbie Gould) is to have an agreement in place a year from now.
- the Spanish program will be expanded to go from 1st and 2nd to 3rd grade next year, but with no increase in staffing, meaning that world language will only be offered 40 minutes a week (contrary to the recommendations of Sean Smith, head of world languages, to provide 1 1/2 hours a week). Some members of the SC expressed concern about this lack of exposure to world language, given the goal of the policy to increase fluency by 7th grade so that students could move into 8th grade Spanish if desired.]
- the enrollment numbers continue to decline, with 99 students fewer this year than last year and another drop of 75 students expected next year (and this could even be lower, since we were 44 students lower than projected last year). We also discussed the marked climb in the percentage of kids on free/reduced lunch: 29% of this year's 6th graders are considered low income, compared to 52% of this year's kindergartners. Rick noted that the number of kids on free/reduced lunch actually hasn't really changed; what has happened is that the number of kids not on free/reduced lunch is decreasing.
- Anonymous comments on my blog had nothing to do with my decision to not run; the week prior to my decision not to run, I learned that my older son's guidance counselor and teacher had send a nasty and name-calling email (identifying me by name) to many in our community, and had to spend a fair amount of time redoing his schedule. This incident led me to really consider the toll of my service on my family.
- I do believe the SC members should send their own kids to the public schools (although there are currently SC members who don't choose to do this, and that has been the case throughout the time I've served on the SC), and although it is of course silly to imagine that anyone would opt for private schools out of lack of support for a given superintendent (and I didn't consider pulling my kids after I lost the vote for the last superintendent), I believe families certainly see the superintendent as having a major impact on the nature and direction of our schools. Thus, to run for re-election, I needed to feel confident I could tell the voters that I would have my three kids in our schools in three years ... and I didn't feel I could make that promise, and thus I didn't think it was appropriate for me to run.
- I certainly agree that building consensus is essential in making progress on any committee, and that is why I'm so pleased that I was able to work with my colleagues to create such consensus on many important decisions: closing Marks Meadow, redistricting, implementing Spanish language in the elementary schools, creating an evaluation policy, and requesting outside evaluations of math/special education/the middle school. I'm surprised the editors didn't note that all of these accomplishments, which I consider some of the most important ones of my term, were unanimous votes, thus clearly indicating great consensus on the committee.