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Thread: Should the School Committee be in the "override business?"

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    There were 10 sections this year, but only nine were used. There were 10 budgeted for again this year, and only nine would be used again. Unrelated to school closure.
    Kindergarten sections for the current 2007-2008 school year aren't relevant to Kindergarten sections for the coming 2008-2009 school year. In the 3 school model, we would have had 10 K sections in 2008-2009. In the 2 1/2 school model, we are projecting 9 sections. That's a savings of one section due to the reconfiguration.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    That same tired old list that Jeff Dieffenbach keeps referring us back to - the 1/11 report, tells us nothing. Let’s see some specifics. Names, salaries, etc.
    If you don’t have this list, please tell us who does.
    When the schools correct information that needs correcting, you complain. When the schools point to information that hasn't changed, you complain. Some (but not I) might even go so far as to suggest that isn't the 1/11 list that's tired and old.

    I've already said that I don't have this list. My recommendation would be that you make this personnel request of the Superintendent's office.

  3. #18
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    Check your facts, Jeff. I might be wrong, but my understanding is that there were nine sections no matter what the model.

  4. #19
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    You're right, I was incorrect, the section reduction was not at the Kindergarten level at Loker, it was from 20 to 19 at Happy Hollow (I don't recall the grade level, but I'm checking) as presented at the 4/28 School Committee meeting.

    So, the additional approx. $60k savings is correct, but at the 1-5 level, not at K. Thanks for pointing this out so that I could make the correction.

  5. #20
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    Ok, but did we actually reduce FTE in any way as a result of one less section? If not, then we cannot apportion any savings to the one less section?

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    When the schools correct information that needs correcting, you complain. When the schools point to information that hasn't changed, you complain. Some (but not I) might even go so far as to suggest that isn't the 1/11 list that's tired and old.

    I've already said that I don't have this list. My recommendation would be that you make this personnel request of the Superintendent's office.
    I'll ignore your not-so-veiled insult and try not to reciprocate.

    No, Jeff.
    I don't complain when the SC corrects information that needs correcting.
    I complain that it needs correcting in the first place.
    I complain that it was usually community members that found the mistakes.
    I complained that virtually every correction that was made in the weeks leading up to Loker's closure either favored HH, OR if they favored Loker, then that criteria was suddenly deemed irrelevant, i.e. parking spaces.
    There was a pattern of this that went on for weeks.

    If anything about this had seemed fair, if any of it had seemed open-minded and unbiased, we wouldn't be having this exchange and you never would have heard of me. But the gut feeling that so many of us had throughout that whole process - that your minds were already made up long before, and that no amount of common sense or logic or reason or evidence contrary to your already etched-in-stone decision was going to make a damned bit of difference - turned out to be true.
    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
    http://www.waylandtransparency.com/

  7. #22
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    For the record, my "tired and old" reference was to your complaints, and nothing else, and only in response to your heaving that insult in the first place.

  8. #23
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    Here's some new information to discuss. Who are Wayland's peer towns now?
    Natick teachers are getting laptops this summer. Wayland's SC is in the discussion phase of bringing laptops to Wayland teachers. Natick feels 25 fourth graders in one class is too much! The MWDN reported that new staff will be added to 2 Natick elementary schools to bring their 4th grade class sizes down. Wayland's fourth grade population doesn't seem to be declining. HH is at full capacity it seems for 2 grade levels! We have been told there are currently 25 kids per class in HH fourth grades. This even after a couple families willingly moved to CH. Where are incoming kids going to go? There is no space for the fourth grade to spread out. How are these larger class sizes going to affect the quality of our learners, especially those on IEP's and in intervention reading groups? These kids are going from a class with 19 students into one with 25. I would love to compare assessment scores for reading and math from one year to the next. All this to "save" a bit of money. It seems maybe the enrollment declining reason for the reconfiguration should have waited for the incoming fourth grade class to go to middle school. Enrollment declinment? Two grade levels at capacity? Does this make sense? The SC will have to hire more reading/math intervention and support staff to compensate for these higher class sizes at some point. OR they could've kept the school with more classrooms available open to the grade 1-5 kids. They could've spread out at Loker..right? There's no wiggle room here.

  9. #24
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    Default Is there room to add a section?

    I think Stacey makes a good point here. Something I hadn't realized until I just checked is that the projection for 2008/09 4th graders is 189 (121 at Claypit and 68 at Happy Hollow). But there are currently 193 3rd graders (who will be 4th graders next year) (according to the October enrollment report) and the "baseline plan" for FY09 (according to the redistricting presentation) is 194.

    Presumably that must mean we are planning on fewer 4th graders than there currently are 3rd graders. I don't know what the three-year trends look like (which are the basis for the enrollment projections), but they must show a slight downward trend. Looking at a longer history, I know the "cohort survival ratios" for third to fourth grade are greater than one (that is, we usually have historically had more 4th graders than 3rd graders the prior year).

    I am wondering what the schools would do if they found there were more than 125 4th graders at Claypit next year. Would they open another section? Is there room for that? Or would that class be run at larger than the maximum guideline size?
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 06-02-2008 at 11:35 AM. Reason: clarification of current number of 3rd graders and formatting fix

  10. #25
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    Default Is there room to add a section?

    At the last SC meeting (2 weeks ago today), I asked at the end of the meeting what would be happen if the class size (whether it 2 & 4th at HH or 4th @ CPH) exceeded the SC class size guidelines. Questions are taken under consideration, so I would expect (after 2 weeks ) that the SC and Dr Burton will answer it tonight. I asked whether an another section would be added (certainly at HH it was budgetted for 20 sections and is currently 19) , if not would additional teaching assistants be added or would there be build outs etc. I believe class size remaining within the SC guidelines was/is one of the unique selling points of this 2.5 model.

    So we shall see Kim.

  11. #26
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    Default Why jam the kids in the schools?

    Stacey's post brings me back to the question: Why are we doing this? What are we really saving?

    Why are we cramming the kids into every nook and crannie left at the other two elementary schools, while the kindergarten at Loker will have too much space and have to be cordoned off?

    Can't we just use the newly found bus efficiencies (ie busing only kids outside of the 1 1/2 mile zone) to purchase a principal for the Loker school? And what will happen if we get 50 new students over the summer?

    The time to prepare for this is too short. Some teachers have to learn a new curriculum quickly for a grade they've never taught. This takes time.

    The reason so many people are upset by this is because it is too much change for a small savings. It doesn't feel like we are set up for success, and what will the badages cost us?

  12. #27
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    In my opinion, reasonable people can disagree about whether the reconfiguration decision was premature or not. What's unreasonable, again in my opinion, is any suggestion that either decision was indisputably the right call.

  13. #28
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    Default Consolidation a square peg in a round hole

    Well Jeff only time will tell. And as a resonable person, I believe those that think it is the right decision (irrespective of timing) will have to think again - with class sizes exceeding SC guidelines, escalating fuel costs, unanticipated staff costs, long bus rides, increased traffic at the schools and the somewhat narrow roads that surround them and so on. A lot of these will only flush out after the year begins, so I anticipate that the Administration and School Committee will give a full and transparent report to the public on the ACTUAL savings - no doubt if they exceed the promised $300k (the number per SC Chairs disclosure at Town Meeting) then I have no doubt all involved will want to share this loud and clear. Equally if it turns out the other way this should be shared with the public - after all many of the electorate were sold on the $300k savings (decreasing the override amount) as well as the NO INCREASE IN CLASS SIZE - per the SC guidelines, politics is great but what ot the reality?

    It's interesting task forces and committees are set up to examine every angle of particular issues, yet a decision of the magnitude of school consolidation and it's impact on the community had but a cursory "analysis" by an advisory group that met for 2-3 hours tops. I know you will respond, that many many hours of public comment were heard - it's true - But as the initial SC vote back in January was never recinded to level the playing field regarding the choices and whether or not the soon to be current consolidation model is the best educationally, environmentally etc. There was one forum back in November for public comment regarding the type of ES setup that was favored - neighborhood versus grade consolidation. Where was the task force to evaluate the best possible educational, social, cost effective, environmentally responsible, community uniting solution for our elementary students, teachers and the community as a whole?

  14. #29
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    Default The "Right" call

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In my opinion, reasonable people can disagree about whether the reconfiguration decision was premature or not. What's unreasonable, again in my opinion, is any suggestion that either decision was indisputably the right call.
    Jeff,

    What is good about the 2 1/2 model? Let's start there.
    If the pros of the model were overwhelming, why did Dr. Burton himself not want to consolidate?

    I believe there is a right and wrong, and it can be seen by collecting all the facts and truthful data we can. What I think is unreasonable is to forge ahead without all the knowledge possible. That's fine if you are just going on a quick trip, or buying an inexpensive gadget...but we have alot of kids to be concerned about here, and this is a long term plan.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In my opinion, reasonable people can disagree about whether the reconfiguration decision was premature or not. What's unreasonable, again in my opinion, is any suggestion that either decision was indisputably the right call.
    Nothing is indisputable, but a decision process to accelerate the reconfiguration from a full K-5 neighborhood school to a consolidated K-only one should have been more robust than what was undertaken. Where I think the SC wandered into the less appealing aspect of the "override business" -- that of 'managing' the amount of an override to make it more appealing to voters -- is shown on several posts in this thread. The basis of the savings is definitely in dispute and yet was the reason given to support the 2 1/2 model for FY 2009. If the best information was not available at the time to do this, it should have been delayed to see if the 2 1/2 model was 1) correct in terms of actual savings that could be realized (given bus routes, class sizes, etc) in FY 2010; and 2) correct at all in any case absent a much more significant decline in enrollment.

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