I am still SHOCKED that a school committee member(s) talks about school committee issues and personnel issues in an open forum. The state ethics commission would call this as an open meeting law violation in a heart beat. It IS illegal. Read YOUR policy BHE. Peruse your state open meeting laws. This is not rocket science folks.
Well after that terribly cynical comment from earlier ... I must say I was impressed by what I saw on tonight's televised meeting. My hat is off to Jeff for facilitating a collegial and focused discussion on SC norms/behavior. I gained some insight and newfound respect for all members and hope this can carry forward into something productive.
I am with Rob on this one. Let's not make too much of Ekstrom's departure. It is par for the course at this point that supers do not make a serious effort to move to this area, and it's simply too cumbersome to make such a long commute. Not a big suprise that Eckstrom was looking for less time on the road and more money. Rocke, and Serio before him, have been the only locals for quite a long while. I don't know what to say about that except that we live in the boonies and have a very small pototoes district as far as these professional ed types are concerned and unless they are making serious moves to relocate here, I think we can assume that their job searches go on.
That's not to say I don't think the SC bears any responsibility for this state of affairs. After all a current member of the SC, Joyce Phillips, allowed for the non-renewal of 2 successful local administrators, one who lived her entire life about a mile from the school she ran, and the other who continues to live on Chestnut Hill. Another local, a former principal of the Green River School whose children attended GMRSD schools, didn't make the final cut for a major admin. position (might've even been for super, I can't remember now). Note the pattern here: all the admins. and candidates I've mentioned were affiliated with school models not valued by Ms. Phillips and other influential SC members at that time. And *they* want to talk about "sour grapes?" This is common sense. It's not impossible to gauge a person's long-term commitment to a workplace. HR directors do it every day. And as Joyce Phillips reminds us at almost every meeting, the SC sees its primary role as HR director of the GMRSD.
We can either accept our fate as a stepping-stone district, or we can bring pressure to the SC to do something substantive about it. I'm getting to the point where I'd rather see an "underqualified" super with local ties, than an ed-speak stooge for the state with one foot out the door, even after most of what the SC appears to have done over the past year is remove any conceivable obstacle to her long-term appointment. Thoroughly disppointing.
Very witty Mike N. It is easy to sit on the sidelines and make fun of someone else (and then no doubt lecture them about not having a sense of humor - I can see that coming). Those of us on the committee who have been honestly trying to make this district fiscally and educationally viable could use a little support from the member towns, not potshots from the sidelines.
It's good to keep a sense of humor in times like these.
It's even better to have a back-up plan. I wonder what can GMRSD do at this stage of the game?
Good luck SC. Nomination papers are now being accepted for (1) Gill and (2) Montague seats. Don't know how the DESE level 4 status will affect the Superintendent search.
Maybe if the Indian mascot was removed, the slain spirits will grace GMRSD with lasting
leaders, fruitful fiances and happy children.
It's late, and I'm tired, so this is not an entirely serious post, but I've long thought that one of the most useful things one can do in life is to maintain a sense of humor about whatever situation you're in. Easier said than done, of course, but IMHO it's a skill that can (and should) be developed ....
In that spirit, it occurs to me that, whatever other problems the school committee has, they are remarkably good at hiring superintendents. After all, over the past ten years, they've hired at least six of them! They've been on such a roll that they hired the last one without even having a search process. I doubt there are very many school committees with that kind of record.
And, since the district has been in Level 4 (or whatever it was called before Level 4 existed), the superintendents they have hired have been very good at creating plans to get out of it. The last three superintendents have created at least three plans -- each one better than the last, and each one (after due consideration) accepted by DESE. How many other districts can say _that_?
So, now the school committee needs to hire another superintendent, and -- if history teaches us anything -- that superintendent will quickly decide that they need to come up with another plan. Because even though we don't have any Level 4 schools -- indeed, one of our schools is a Commendation School -- our Level 4 status is the critical issue facing the district today. Please, let's not have anybody confused about that.
So, whatever else happens, I think we can be sure that the school committee will hire another superintendent, and that superintendent will create another plan, and DESE will (after full consideration) happily accept that plan, and we'll be on track to Making This District Successful. Again.
Who could not feel good about that? I think we should all buy stock in Ray-Ban, because the future's so bright we're gonna need shades.
If the foregoing made you smile, good. :-) If not, that's what the Delete key is for ....
[The preceding post is not intended as a serious analysis of the challenges facing the school committee and school district, nor should any inferences be drawn from it as to the opinions of the author about those actual challenges. But sometimes, you just gotta shake your head ....]
from where I sit and not attending meetings: I was unemployed for two and half years with some temp jobs thrown in. While a temp I did not stop my job search even though there was a chance to be hired on permanently. Ekstrom was an interim superintendent and from the posts sounds like the likelihood of becoming full time did not sound promising. Another school district offers a full time position then of course any intelligent person would take it .
I know there was a lot of politics behind the scenes with finger pointing along the way (personally I blame the "no child left behind" law). If the majority felt that Ekstrom would have been a good permanent superintendent then they failed to act quickly enough.
I hope for my kids sake a permanent replacement is found soon so there will be a smooth transition.
Mark1 wrote: "from where I'm sitting, the committee, like a bunch of kids that can't stop fighting, needs a lengthy 'time out.' "
It's bad enough that there's all this bickering and talking behind one another's backs, but when the bickering and name-calling moves into the public eye and onto internet forums like this one, it's particularly unprofessional and inexcusable. I can't blame Nadine for jumping ship, the way she was being publicly undermined. Yet every parent and teacher I've spoken to liked her and wanted her to stay.
I've worked in enough organizations in my lifetime to see that the core problem of the GMRSD is not the state report, the moving of the goalposts, school choice or even the closing of the MC school. It's the inability of the school committee to unify behind a common goal and stay unified until that goal is met.
Old battles keep getting fought. Alliances are forged and broken. It's drama worthy of Game of Thrones. No one should wonder why the district has a hard time keeping a superintendent in an environment like that.
I don't know what you mean Jeff in regards to changing the way SC members are elected. But from where I'm sitting, the committee, like a bunch of kids that can't stop fighting, needs a lengthy "time out."
Hopefully the last post was an attempt at gallows humor. If not it is a good example of the problems of the school committee and its leadership.
The state has in fact greatly contributed to this mess so I do not think a state takeover is the appropriate remedy. I would prefer that the member towns rise up and take over the situation, rather than sitting on the sidelines and complaining. After all, a regional school district is in fact a creation of the member towns.
Wow, Mark 1, that was a gross distortion of the facts. School Committee governance was cited in the report as contributing to our underperformance, but the district was put into level iv because of a number of educational shortcomings- not the least of which was the lack of a unified curriculum.
That the district is in level 4 because of the committee sounds like a rumor that a disgruntled school committee member would spread to impressionable neighbors to further his (or her) own dysfunctional agenda.
Shame on you for spreading mindless rumors.
I am one of the biggest critics of the current school committee but other factors have massively contributed to the current problems of the district, particularly the actions of the state.
The level 4 designation was arbitrary and capricious. The state report that put us there was riddled with factual errors. For example the first "finding" that put us in level 4 essentially stated that the district did not have an approved budget when in fact a budget had been unanimously approved by a district meeting several months earlier. The excuse we heard was that this portion of the report had been written before the district meeting (???) The main critique of the school committee was that some of us had been opposing (unaffordable) budgets and assessments at town and district meetings because we were still mad about the closing of Montague Center School.
Since then the state has moved the goal posts on the district and school committee numerous times during the level 4 process. The so-called "Accelerated Improvement Plan" imposed on us deals with some important issues but is essentially a 90 page labor intensive, jargon filled nightmare. It completely ignores many of the core problems that face this district, particularly the collapse of enrollment over the past decade.
Speaking of enrollment, a plan to deal with the problem was initiated by the school committee last November and immediately all hell broke loose. This included extreme angst by state officials involved in the level 4 process. The commissioner even pulled our interim superintendent aside at a meeting to ask what on earth was going on with this enrollment focus. The state is so obsessed with "achievement gaps" that they are incapable of seeing that the district is virtually collapsing due to enrollment losses.
IMHO there are diverse problems with admin, staff, and the DESE bureaucracy that have contributed to the problems here. To simply scapegoat the school committee, especially those of us trying to focus on key issues such as enrollment as the Greenfield Recorder did last Thursday, is a mistake.
As for the school committee it is the most frustrating organization I have ever been a part of., I think the member towns need to rise up and seize control of the situation. There is a petitioned article on annual town meeting to revisit the composition and method of electing the committee. Supporting that would be a step in the right direction.
Dear Michael Langknecht, Chairperson and School Committee Members:
I would like to thank all of you for giving me the opportunity of leading your district during these past ten months. I have enjoyed the challenges, team building and successes we have achieved during my time as Interim Superintendent. However, I am writing this letter to inform you that I have accepted a position of the Superintendent of Schools at the Berlin-Boylston Regional School Districts effective July 1, 2012. Therefore, I plan on completing my current Interim Contract that goes until June 30, 2012. It has been a pleasure working for the Gill-Montague Regional School District staff, community, parents, students and School Committee. I wish continued success for the District as they work towards removal of Level 4 status.
As I have demonstrated throughout this year, I will continue to provide the Gill-Montague Regional School District with supports and leadership until the end of my term. I am willing to provide the School Committee with recommendations for the future Superintendent candidacy and/or can also assist with the search process, if you choose.