Montclair BoE Meeting: Teachers Awarded and Vote to Terminate Assessment Investigation

mrs. judy weston
Mrs. Judy Weston

The Montclair Board of Education, which is scheduled to meet not once, but twice this June, took time last night to honor Weston Award teachers, discuss AP program and board processes, heard Edgemont School teacher presentations, and voted to officially terminate its investigation on compromised assessments.

The meeting began with the annual Weston awards, funded by philanthropists Josh and Judy Weston, which brought teachers and students alike to the meeting for food, drink, and honors.

Teachers Awarded
The Weston awards honored seventeen teachers from throughout the district:

  • Marcie Chanin (Bradford School, 2nd grade)
  • Beverly D’Andrea (Bullock School, 4th grade)
  • Kathleen Hart (Edgemont School, 2nd grade)
  • Maria Martire (Nishuane School, 2nd grade)
  • Ivory Wise (Nishuane School, art teacher)
  • Louis D’Amico (Hillside School, music teacher)
  • Marjorie Noval (Hillside School , grades 3 to 5, visual arts)
  • Honey Walia (Northeast School, 1st grade)
  • Nancy Myers-Alvarez (Watchung School, kindergarten)
  • Oliver Pruksarnukul (Glenfield Middle School, social studies)
  • Shelley Stubbins (Glenfield Middle School, family and consumer sciences)
  • Daniel Taylor (Mount Hebron Middle School, STEM)
  • Pamela Herriott (Mount Hebron Middle School, Spanish)
  • Todd Smith (Renaissance Middle School, 6th grade)
  • Anne Baney-Gianpaola (Montclair High School, sophomore and junior classes)
  • Ryan Casazza (Montclair High School, mathematics)
  • William Wingren (Montclair High School, sophomore and junior classes)

Mrs. Weston, who announced the awards, promised that she and her husband would continue to honor Montclair teachers. “We want to keep doing it, as long as we have the energy and the money holds out,” she said.

Superintendent Report
Schools Superintendent Penny MacCormack’s report was, as always, chock full of presentations about the efforts to improve the district.  Chief Talent Officer Michelle Russell and District Parent Coordinator Sylvia Bryant addressed proposed improvements of the School Action Team for Partnerships (SATP), which is aimed at supporting children through academic achievement through the involvement of parent and school staff members in committees that work with the principals in forming effective and cohesive teaching practices in the schools.

“Part of the work that we’ve been doing,” Russell told the board, “is to really get all of our schools to have school improvement plans.  We’re empowering  the School Action Team for Partnerships by collaborating with our principals to ensure that our school improvement plan comes to life for families.”

SATP members are to be given training by the district, with extra training for schools receiving federal Title I funding for high percentages of low-income students. SATP co-chairs for Title I schools are to support the development of a school parent involvement policy throughout the district.

Edgemont Montessori School Teacher Report
Edgemont School took its turn to report on what was working and what wasn’t. Edgemont teachers cited as examples of what was working the collaborative approach to teaching in the Montessori-themed school, along with cultural enrichment programs for the students and an active PTA. What was not working, they said, was the lack of a full child-study team available for the whole school week, a misapplication of the Marshall rubric to the Montessori approach to letting children choose how to learn a lesson, and the practice of penalizing teachers who go beyond the requirements laid out by the Common Core. They said testing was also a problem as they found the tests too hastily put together.

Board Discussion of AP Program
Board member David Cummings voiced concerns about the advanced proficiency (AP) program and the need to review AP courses, determine whether students who opt for AP are required to take tests, determine whether the district should agree to pay for that requirement, and then have a review to find possible barriers to get into AP.

David Deutsch, chairing his first Board of Education meeting since being elected to President in the May 19 re-organizational meeting, wanted to pass a resolution to send it the curriculum committee. Board member Anne Mernin balked at the resolution proposal, though, saying that the use of a resolution straitjacketed the board’s ability to discuss the AP issues freely by forcibly prioritizing goals and not allowing the free flow of ideas, a concern that new member Jessica de Koninck also expressed reservations about.The discussion over how to discuss the issue, which took over half an hour, ultimately led to a passage of a resolution meant to allow discussion of the AP issue. Cummings had said a process was needed to determine the board’s priorities.

Public Comment
During public comment, several regular members of the public sought to speak, and Deutsch had to deal with residents who insisted on going over their allotted three minutes.

Marcella Simadiris asked if any attention was given to special-needs students and how much was being done to foster diversity. Laurie Orosz declared that the time spent on testing was making students more averse to books and literature. Another resident, Garrett Morrison, expressed concern about a possible delay in the full-immersion language program. Such comments drew applause, but when resident Itai Dinoor spoke to commend the board for its hard work and the members’ ability to listen, there was notable silence.

adaori udoji
Adaora Udoji

Watchung School and Class Size
The biggest complaint was the size of the kindergarten classes in the year gone by, particularly in Watchung School. Concerns were mainly about the overcrowding of first-grade schools as the 2013-14 kindergarten students prepare to move up and the need for a fourth-first-grade class for 2014-15. Resident Adaora Udoji summed up the parents’ concerns. She said that there was lack of communication and transparency with confusion as to what the process was to resolve the issue.

“The fact that is has not been directly addressed, I mean, that’s of great concern, and here we are now, in May [sic], and we still have no sense as to  plan is for September.” Udoji said that she needed to choose what was best for their own child, whom she said has suffered academically due to kindergarten overcrowding.

Board Votes to Terminate Investigation of Compromised Assessments
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board voted 5 – 0 — members David Cummings abstained and Shelly Lombard was absent — to terminate its investigation of the compromised assessments.

In January, the Board voted to suspend its investigation when the state’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance (OFAC) began its own investigation, which is still ongoing.

After the meeting, Board president David Deutsch told Barista Kids no new information has arrived from OFAC. “It just became clear that it wasn’t very productive to keep the investigation in suspension. We felt it was more productive to not make a more affirmative decision one way or the other.”

During the board’s investigation, $60,000 in legal fees were billed from its legal counsel, Weiner, Lesniak LLP. In addition to those costs, $69,000 were billed from Board member David Cumming’s attorney Stuart Ball who is providing legal counsel for him after Cummings was served a subpoena in November to give testimony.

When asked if Cummings legal fees have been covered by the board, Deutsch responded “No comment.”

 

 

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59 COMMENTS

  1. Let me get this straight: a supporter named Dinoor commends the board for its members’ ability to listen. But when it comes to every school telling the board and superintendent that the quarterly assessments aren’t working, what happens to this ability?

    No wonder no one applauded.

  2. I have been attending BOE meetings for quite a long time now and if Dinoor didn’t get applause, I would say it’s because the Boards ability to listen is fiction. Otherwise, why would people like the Watchung parents, Ms. Simadiris, And Mr. Morrison be attending Board meetings for the last year and brining up the same issues up with no action or solution from the Board?

    Or why would school after school have to ask for a moratorium on the quarterlies, discuss the flawed Marshall rubric, etc. and get no action from the Board?

    I don’t understand why this writer was editorializing his comments about the speakers at all. Only a couple of speakers went over, not all of whom was even named. And why not mention the couple of speakers who brought up that the Superintendent and Board were planning to hire a new PR person, apparently to give the district good press. As one speaker pointed out, a year ago our district would not have needed a PR person to get us good press. And where is this money coming from? It sounded like a donor was donating through the MFEE. I don’t understand that at all, as I thought the pint of the MFEE was to raise money for the betterment of the schools and the kids. A lot of people spoke last night, so if I am misunderstanding this, would appreciate clarification. I do not. Want to spread rumors or misrepresent anyone.

    And I just want to add the Edgemont teachers spoke very well about what is and isn’t working, echoing what has been said many times by the other teachers. But I was especially impressed their PTA also spoke so well against what they and I perceive to be harmful reforms.

  3. I forgot to congratulate Weston Award winners and nominees. Was nice to celebrate our wonderful teachers for a change. Made me proud to be a parent in this district.

    And considering the outpouring of love and respect given to those teachers last night, including the Board members, I have to say I was pretty shocked by how they totally ignored the Edgemont teachers. Speaking before the Board and Superintendent on what is not working must be rather intimidating and not a single person acknowledged them. Not a thank you or question from anyone, which was customary with the other schools that spoke. Who did Edgemont tick off?

  4. nycmontclair,
    I don’t think I have ever read or heard of anyone taking a shot at the MFEE. I guess it was inevitable there would be some spillover in the current climate.

  5. Frank, I wasn’t meaning to do that, but it came up with a speaker last night, so was hoping someone could clarify. Sorry if it came off as though I was taking a shot at them.

  6. Did Steve Maginnis actually attend this meeting?

    Public Comment
    “During public comment, several regular members of the public sought to speak, and Deutsch had to deal with residents who insisted on going over their allotted three minutes.”

    Really? This is actually worth mentioning. Two people attempted to speak beyond their allotted time and it is presented as something poor Deutsch has to deal with. I am suspicious of this rather skewed observation.

    As for legal fees:

    “During the board’s investigation, $60,000 in legal fees were billed from its legal counsel, Weiner, Lesniak LLP. In addition to those costs, $69,000 were billed from Board member David Cumming’s attorney Stuart Ball who is providing legal counsel for him after Cummings was served a subpoena in November to give testimony.

    When asked if Cummings legal fees have been covered by the board, Deutsch responded “No comment.””

    Lots of comments on this site said the so-called ‘investigation’ was a big waste of time and money. It was a failed and expensive intimidation tactic. I predict those tactics will not end. The Board and the Superintendent aren’t hiring a PR person to make themselves look better; they’re hiring PR people to make opposing voices look bad. They want to create the false image of out of control Montclair parents who can’t seem to stay within their allotted three minutes…

  7. lenny, I’m pretty sure the PR campaign began some time ago, in the form of montclairschoolswatch. The website screams hired gun, and the one-off comments on recent education stories here, the ones from the new names who heard about “the new website from a friend”, strike me as tipically scripted PR BS.

  8. nycmontclair,
    Don’t back down on my account.
    I don’t know who last night suggested a donor was donating through the MFEE, but if it was said this way, then it is newsworthy…at least that the district is hiring (or contracting?) a PR person is. Of course, it may be just a case of key personnel getting public speaking /media training. Then, it is much ado about nothing. I’m sure we will hear much more about this before, and after, more details emerge.

  9. Frank, not backing down, just want further clarification before rushing to judgement on an organization that certainly has done a lot for our schools. But I agree, if the district is hiring a PR person or if MacCormack is consulting with one, is newsworthy. Unfortunately, I was not able to get more details.

  10. Congratulations to the Weston Award winners! It was a beautiful presentation to witness, and it was heartwarmimg to see both the nominated and winning teachers be recognized for their skills in the classroom.

    It is a bit astonishing to me, though, that we can recognize teachers’ professionalism, dedication, and talents in one breath and then largely ignore their concerns in the next when they are invited to speak to the board. The recognition for the Edgemont School teachers’ comments was a deafening silence. They deserved more respect than was shown.

  11. “Frank, not backing down, just want further clarification before rushing to judgement…”

    You’re killing me! 🙂

  12. I am an Edgemont parent and I was there last night. I want to thank other people for acknowledging what I thought only I was witnessing! They didn’t say thank you, made us wait until 9:30 and they were pretty dismissive. In fact, at one point I saw Penny talking with other board members and even check her phone. I was so proud of our PTA and our teachers last night. I too wonder what it is they have against us- could it be we had one of the larger number of opt out during NJ ASK? Is it because our Montessori program puts an emphasis on child directed, differentiated learning which does not go at all with what has been happening in the district? I don’t know and I won’t say that they don’t like us but they could have acknowledged our school and said a polite thank you which they seemed to have no problem doing when people got up to praise them.

  13. Just as an historical fyi — the Montclair Public Schools used to have a communications professional on staff in Central Office. Several years ago under Dr. Frank Alvarez. That position was eliminated due to previous years’ budget constraints. If anyone else has more details on that, please share.

  14. Nah. I think it is about the building and the program.

    The district talked about closing Edgemont 4 years ago. I think one of the parents advisory groups also ran some numbers to move the program to CB and teed it up for discussion. When Montclair thinks money is tight, we first look to close schools.

    I have nothing against the program , but the 300 student Montessori program is a niche program of – even by our magnet school standards.

    All that said, it sounds from what you describe that the someone on the BOE could have acknowledged the presentation. That leads me to think this instance might be a PTA issue.

  15. They can hire all the PR people they want, the damage has been done! Just Google Montclair Public Schools and it would be enough to keep any perspective new families away. The climate here is visibly divided. It’s plain to see just by attending one BOE meeting! For starters the Principals sit so far away from their staff (the MEA) , on the side of the administration. Then you see the parents pretty sit on which side they lean towards. It’s very sad to see a town so visibly divided.

  16. It’s not sad…it’s been this way for over 7 years – probably more than a cohort if I want to get picky.

    You’re just the latest cohort.

  17. Well 8 years ago when I was looking for a town to live in, where it would be the best schools for my kid, the climate was nothing like this. No one is listen to the teachers right now. Sitting through BOE meetings is painful! Will be interesting to see what the results are of the School Climate survey that will be given to the staff on June 5th and students and parents on June 9th.

  18. So, that would be:
    * during the Remson Council?
    * in the middle of the Frank Alvarez era?
    * just prior to the mortgage crisis/Great Recession?
    * when the school levy automatically went up 6% every year?
    * when the school debt went from $50MM to $90MM in 3 years?
    * when you did not check out baristanet’s coverage of school issues?

    This stuff going on now is much, much more interesting, but it is really baby stuff as far as screwing up everyone’s life. The CC/PARCC is going to go away and it’s imprint wouldn’t even get honorable mention on my list above.

  19. Frank, I’m so happy to hear you say the PARCC will go away. That’s the best news I’ve heard all YEAR. Can you say the same for the Quarterly Assessments?
    “During public comment, several regular members of the public sought to speak, and Deutsch had to deal with residents who insisted on going over their allotted three minutes.”
    I find the above piece of writing so very disturbing!!!

  20. I would also like to hear more about the MFEE involvement of donor money for PR. Can we get info on that?

  21. Yes, running over 3 mins is baby stuff. Quite frankly, the whole meeting with the exception of the MFEE nominations & awards, is an example of my earlier characterization. Nobody is looking good as far as Google is concerned, but then Montclair is really not on that many people’s radar screen as a “got to have it” place.

    Yes, the whole thing will go away for a multitude of basic reasons. As I said before, I’m not for or against any of this. I’m not a curriculum person.
    I also said awhile ago that I hope quality of the MPS (and I think it will) goes sideways. Because when it is all said and done, the U.S. education industry is in disarray and not one local leader or group has has figured out a coherent Plan B. A lot of yakity-yak, but clearly no plan.

    This means we will all rally around polishing up the status quo to protect the housing market.
    This is fine with me as long as we don’t try to spend our way through the fog.

  22. As to the PR business, it would seem to be a logical attempt to stem the “foot in mouth” disease that afflicts the districts talking heads. Quite honestly, the MEA, MCAS, & MSW should look into the same. Only the PTA’s have managed to stay below the radar…and I’m not sure that is a positive thing.

    The Edgemont people misplayed their 15 minutes and I include the MEA leadership in that one. Everyone knows the MEA position on this and every school that is going to support this.

    The better play would not to have even brought up the quarterly assessments. Stake out the high ground by being true to their program. Then, the BOE has to ask them about it during Q&A and they can politely say it is problematic. Nope. They get to be canon fodder.

    This is why the last year has been so captivating. All this energy, commitment, capacity & intelligence from all these people on all sides trying to find the elusive High Ground.

  23. When asked if Cummings legal fees have been covered by the board, Deutsch responded “No comment.”

    What? No comment?! That is not a permissible answer. Who do these people thing they freakin’ are, the NSA?

  24. “No comment” is a completely unacceptable answer. This new president is getting off to a flying start, isn’t he?

    And I love the pretense of “listening” to the teachers and parents, who unanimously are screaming that the over-testing is interfering with teaching and learning, and then completely ignoring their concerns.

  25. Deutsch’s behavior is no surprise: it’s the typical BOE dodge and secrecy that enrages the district and perpetuates suspicion of their motives and plans.

    Kulwin has taught him well.

  26. I can certainly understand why they’d ignore all the whining from the teachers, which must be getting pretty redundant by now. But the guy’s got to answer legitimate questions about town affairs in his baliwick, or at least explain why he can’t answer them at the moment and say when he thinks he will be able to answer them. But to say “no comment” as though he were talking to some hack from a gossip rag… It’s tantamount to flashing the Jersey bird.

  27. “No comment”, 3 minute allotments, ignoring “screaming teachers”, donors donating, principals self-segregating themselves, new BOE members falling in with the old ones.
    We’re clearly going someplace in the proverbial hand basket.

  28. Frank, that “place” is a destination where the superintendent and Board have chosen to take us. This all is their doing, and if they wanted to shake things up, they’ve succeeded. They’ve also unnecessarily p.o.’d a lot of people and seem pretty pleased about it.

    Any of their supporters who cries victim and complains about the current state of things – and then has the gall to point to those who disagree with the superintendent and board as being the cause of the strife – is being hypocritical and dishonest.

    This all could have been avoided, and the victims here are the students and teachers.

  29. The BOE asked the teachers and PTA to present “what is working and what isn’t working.” It makes no sense that they would ask to have this and then completely ignore it.

  30. The teachers’ comments hardly sound like “whining”, walleroo, and it si highly disrespectful to ignore them.

  31. Then this space is not properly communicating what, meeting after meeting, the teachers have been saying. If you look at the “Montclair Cares About Schools” page on Facebook, you can find many videos of this.

  32. For anyone interested, I just checked and the “Montclair Cares About Schools”Facebook pGe does have the video posted for both the Edgemont PTA and the teachers. Sorry, not FB savvy enough to post links, but if you go to their page you just have to scroll down past a few stories.

  33. “This all could have been avoided, and the victims here are the students and teachers.”

    Are you kidding me? It could not have been avoided, only addresses in a more prompt and responsible manner. This is a sea change standards, curriculum, testing and teacher evaluations. People will naturally resist this type of change. Leadership is a prerequisite to such such change.

    CC was adopted in June, 2010. I’m sure it was talked about for years prior. What happened between June, 2010 and June, 2013? Where was the leadership from the Superintendent? The BOE? The MEA? The PTA’s? It was absolutely non-existent. We have a flawed program design and ignored implementation for 3 years so we have can unrealistically try to meet an arbitrary deadline. We want to put it off because we didn’t do our homework and it is fine to divide the town with hysterics.

    You can make a case the students might be victims, but that is the extent of where you can go. I don’t think you are being hypocritical and dishonest, just in denial about yours and all the stakeholder’s accountability and responsibility. Lobby Trenton to put it off. You will likely win. You probably should win. But, you need to stop whining about how it is everyone else’s fault and share in the blame. Until you do, I am not sympathetic to you cause.

  34. I disagree with you, Frank.

    Preparing for the CC’s was unavoidable, I’ll give you that. But the subpoenas? The quarterly assessments, and the Superintendent’s ignoring of all teachers in the district saying that they’re not working? Non-transparent spending? Not protecting the district server that the assessments were on, and blaming it on hacking? Ethical conflicts under investigation by the state? Giving access to confidential information to unauthorized individuals through the server shared between the district and the township? Creating huge tension in the schools? Bringing really bad national press to Montclair? Etc, etc.?

    Totally avoidable. Those were conscious choices that didn’t have to happen.

  35. I would surprised if you didn’t.

    True to you handle, it all revolves around the assessment gate. You do stay on message.

    Just so we’re clear, MCAS brought in the national press, e.g. The Washington Post. Don’t pedal the lies – it hurts you credibility.

    No one is really concerned with the national press. It is the hyper-local venom that is more destructive. To MCAS & MSW,they win the awards. 2 birds of a feather.

  36. Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of town forum? What happened to that? I thought I saw something in the Montclair Times about that? Wouldn’t it be productive to actually have a conversation about the local, state, and national issues regarding education reform? The problem with the BOE meetings from this report seems to be that there is no dialogue. Actual dialogue might actually help everyone, no?

  37. Thinking4myself, there was in fact supposed to be a town forum. The Mayor, on behalf of the group putting the forum together, approached Dr. MacCormack for use of the High School auditorium, which she denied. We learned at a subsequent Board meeting, from Dr. MacCormack she denied usage claiming she was not given enough info. Considering the Mayor was the person who requested the use and she was also invited to attend the forum, I found that answer to be rather strange.

  38. OMG! Take the initiative or get out of the way!
    Whine, whine, whine….what other people need to do for you.
    Stop looking at Facebook and look in the mirror!

  39. Lol, that is so funny coming from so me one who spends so much time berating people on Baristakids. You have no idea how much advocacy work I am doing or anything else about me for that matter. However, I will take this opportunity to give a plug to an organization I am working with, Save our Schools New Jersey. A wonderful group of volunteers who work tirelessly to protect public school education for all our children.

  40. “When asked if Cummings legal fees have been covered by the board, Deutsch responded “No comment.”
    Lets get back to this little piece. so the BOE can spend possibly 120,000+ of tax payer money on legal fees that never resolved anything? Why are people not more upset about this? Also, if the Assessments were left on a website that were unsecure, why was no one held accountable?

  41. Whoa Frank, easy buddy. Not worth having a heart attack over this. Just keep a defibrillator next to your computer, and you’ll be good.

  42. “No comment” is an unacceptable answer in terms of explaining how the BOE is (mis)spending our taxpayer’s money. And I sincerely hope this is not an indication of how Mr. Deutsch thinks he can run things.

    As for the $120,000+, the first thing that needs to happen is that Weiner, Lesniak LLP needs to be fired immediately. Every bit of that bill–from the incompetently run investigation, to the idiotically issued subpoenas, to the bill from another law firm defending a board member against an overreaching subpoena–is their fault. And there is not a dime of that bill that actually represents useful work that served the BOE or the taxpayers well.

    But qby33, they DID hold someone responsible–Alan Benezra, the school’s IT guy, got canned for being the one who told the public that the leak was due to incompetence instead of a deliberate hack and probably saved us all from an even larger bill from Weiner, Lesniak, LLP “investigation.” So…yeah….

  43. Once again, the school board meeting was too long. I was hoping that, after Mrs. Kulwin had done such a lousy job facilitating the meetings, Mr. Deutsch would be able to move things along more quickly, but that wasn’t the case, at least on his first outing as school board president. I hope he does better going forward. And why is the superintendent’s report NOT itemized on the agenda? The people who attend these meetings have a right to know what’s in her report and how many presentations and issues like “what’s working, what’s not working” progress reports are to be addressed so they can get an idea of how long they have to wait for public comment and resolutions.

  44. montclairmommy,

    Stop whining. Only a select few public meetings even have a published agenda and they are only available 24 hours before. If you cared about our kids, you would go regardless of the agenda.

  45. Frank, you pronounced you were taking the summer off. Please do so and use that time to figure out why you have this constant need to berate and demean people.

  46. The solstice has not yet arrived.

    I didn’t berate – I admonished her/him as I would someone for littering.

    After all, these meeting are open to the public, but not for the public. I’m not sure why that distinction is consistently lost here.

  47. montclairmommy – Over the rainbow and in Glen Ridge, the Board of Education emails a detailed agenda for every board meeting several days in advance. For tonight’s meeting, I received an email with a 10 page agenda attached 3 days ago.

    Oh and there are 2 public comment sessions – 1 for agenda items at the beginning of the meeting and another one at the end after all the agenda items are addressed.

    It can be done easily if the district actually wants people to participate.

  48. montclairmommy, board members have stated on a number of occasions that they don’t feel the need to answer to members of the public and they have taken specific actions to discourage public input during meetings. If the BoE produced a detailed and usefull agenda that might encourage more people to show up and make trouble. This will continue until the town moves to the direct election of the BoE, like the vast majorty of towns around the state.

    FWIW – The BOE in Bloomfield puts out a detailed agenda, but the Super doesn’t usually list specific topics or items he will cover. We had two comment periods, but the second was recently taken off the agenda. In most cases the public has been able to speak about items that come up after public comments have ended, and for the most part the Super and Board members answer questions and concerns directly. I don’t recall an instance in my memory where a question or comment was not answered. I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve seen board members or the Super be impatient or even display outward frustration with members of the public, even when tough questions were being asked. In most cases they get more testy with each other then with the public.

  49. “montclairmommy, board members have stated on a number of occasions that they don’t feel the need to answer to members of the public and they have taken specific actions to discourage public input during meetings.”

    That is because it is public comment, not public Q&A. The governing boards, councils, etc are not legally required to have a dialog, but do so as a courtesy. Over the years, he Montclair Town Council has, on many occasions, not answered questions put to them in public comment. A major reason, IMO, has been if the comments are of a pejorative nature. If one is going to come at the body with this approach, then they should not whine & moan about when the BOE does not extend the courtesy and instead follows the letter of the law.

    I think that was one of the main reasons the MEA “lost” their place on the agenda.
    We are seeing anew level of petulance.

  50. Frank, IMO the Super/board doesn’t like the fact that so many parents think they’re doing a crappy job and are willing to speak up about it. Making the claim that it’s all those mean commenters ruining it for everyone is really just a convenient excuse to shut down dissent, which we all know has become a theme with this group, whether is parents, teachers, bloggers, etc.

    I really don’t give a damn what the legal requirements are, nor do I give a damn what the town council may or may not have done in the past. The public has a reasonable expectation that their public servants, paid or otherwise, will communicate with the people they serve, especially when it comes to the education of their children. I also don’t give a damn whether the BoE got their feelings hurt or their undies in a bunch over challenging comments or questions in the past. It comes with the job and if they feel uncomfortable dealing with tough questions and parents challenging the status quo they shouldn’t choose public service.

  51. I can appreciate your POV and I have n problem with your anger. But, you totally lost me when you invoked the “especially when it comes to the education of their children.”

    Is it the society’s children, just parents or just the dissenters children that you speak of?
    I don’t think for a minute the dissenters of the status quo are representing the interests of all the children. If they were, a lot more would have been addressed over the last four years and the interest groups would have stood up and said I share responsibility for where we are today.

    I think it would be best if we just leave the children out of this particular issue and decide by resolution that the Council, ZBA, PB, EV, HPC and the rest of the alphabet soup of public servants all send out their agendas by email before they meet and include Q&A periods.
    The only caveat is that they have to follow the Civility Tool Kit resolution passed by the last Council.

  52. “I don’t think for a minute the dissenters of the status quo are representing the interests of all the children.” – Wow. That seems pretty jaded. Is that just because you disagree with them? Or do you think they’re only being selfish and they don’t care what happens to other kids as long as they get what they want for their kid? If parents believe they are fighting for a better education for their kids are they not also, by default, fighting for a better education for all the kids?

    As one of the dissenters who has no kids in the system, my concern is not for my kid, it’s for the school system that educated me well that I see is going in the wrong direction, so even if I’m the only one who has all the children in mind [which I’m not] I may have proven your theory wrong.

    But actually, my point was not that all dissenters have the interests of all the children in mind, my point is that parents are more apt to speak up and challenge public servants when their kids are involved and if you choose to involve yourself in matters of public education you should expect that parents will have something to say about their kid’s education.

  53. On a relative basis of comparison, I think typical parents are very biased and care significantly less about other kids. On the other hand, I think typical adults without children in the system are much less biased, but care significantly less than parents.
    You do realize there is no point here.

    My point is if public eduction doesn’t straighten this out by the time the school tax levy hits 60%, parents should expect a lot more non-parents to have something to say…and it will matter little whether the BOE is appointed or elected. Since most of the housing growth will come under fixed PILOT terms in commercial zones, the burden will fall on the households in the R-zones.

    So, that is why I consider the “problem” with the agenda and how in/efficient the BOE meetings continue to be a simple case of whining.

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