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Thread: Our School "Reconfiguration"

  1. #106
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I wonder if "often" is really true. I suspect that we're actually in agreement a majority of the time. For instance, I direct you to some thoughts of mine in the direction that the Wayland Public Schools might take. I'd appreciate your feedback on that direction.
    ...
    I'm happy to let that reasoning lie, but as long as people continue to challenge the decision, ...
    ...
    I agree--the disruption has been more than minimal. Both the School Committee and the Administration regret that disruption, and the Administration is working hard to rectify it.
    ...
    My understanding is that all of the proposed personnel reductions were made.
    ...
    Let's be clear. The disruption is almost completely an operational one, not an educational one. I'm not trying to whitewash the real operational challenges that families are facing, just pointing out that (sorry, but you really leave me no choice here) the Committee's decision was to preserve the educational program while reducing cost, so as to reduce the size of (and increase the likely passage of) the override. I've seen nothing to suggest that the cost savings won't materialize-...
    Jeff,
    I reread your list of the direction and ideas for the Wayland Schools. Youíre right, I agree with your opinions. That said, itís tough to disagree with what you want to do. Where I think we disagree is how we go about prioritizing those proposed improvements with items already in the academic budget and/or those that are co-curricular, athletic, or administrative. My post following this one will elaborate more my opinions regarding the future direction of the WPS.

    In terms of the elementary school community, the override failed. We lost a school, gave up services and smaller class sizes, and have significant transportation issues as well. That is why at least my opinion is that the override defense rings hollow. For FY 2009, the Wayland Schools were segmented into ES, MS, and HS. The proposed override (that passed) provided nothing for ES. I take great issue with that as I donít think either the pain or the benefits were equally spread across the entire school community. Thatís not fair, and itís not right.

    Weíre in agreement but I need to further address the point. My question is still out there, though: why not? Why werenít we ready for this? Jeff, the reconfiguration question has been out there since 2005. Obviously individual bus routes change along with other details, but the events of the past few weeks seem to indicate that the long and short term planning just wasnít there. In practice a good decision implemented poorly is the same as a bad decision. Advice and guidance were offered Ė even by members of the Loker community, but not accepted by the SC and Administration. And I still donít know why reassessing the bus routes under the 3 ES system wasnít evaluated for savings.

    As for the cost savings, I respectfully ask the SC and the administration to be as transparent about this as possible. Not just to soothe the anger of the Loker community, but also to gauge actual savings that may or may not occur. Future decisions should be made based on this one. How effective was it? I appreciate your estimates but I believe it imperative to follow this closely and let the public see the actual accounting here.

    Thereís not much more that I can say about the Loker reconfiguration decision without regurgitating past points. I think it best to look at where we go from here in FY 2009, as Jen Kipp summarized in her post from last week.

  2. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Grasso View Post
    Jeff,
    In terms of the elementary school community, the override failed. We lost a school, gave up services and smaller class sizes, and have significant transportation issues as well. That is why at least my opinion is that the override defense rings hollow. For FY 2009, the Wayland Schools were segmented into ES, MS, and HS. The proposed override (that passed) provided nothing for ES. I take great issue with that as I donít think either the pain or the benefits were equally spread across the entire school community. Thatís not fair, and itís not right.
    The "segmenting" of the schools into ES, MS, and HS was no different for FY2009 than it has been in the past. It's not accurate to say that the approved override provided nothing for the ES level. Had the override not been approved, class sizes at the ES level would have been significantly larger than they are now.

  3. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    The "segmenting" of the schools into ES, MS, and HS was no different for FY2009 than it has been in the past.
    This is not exactly true.
    If there is any savings to be had (which is still not a given), from closing Loker School, $100,000 was taken right off the top and put into MS & HS sports.

    .
    John Flaherty

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

  4. #109
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    A year or two ago, the School Committee eliminated a number of non-ES co-curricular stipends to fund an ES reading teacher. In any given year, there may be a shift one way or the other, but in the long run, my sense is that it evens out.

  5. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    A year or two ago, the School Committee eliminated a number of non-ES co-curricular stipends to fund an ES reading teacher. In any given year, there may be a shift one way or the other, but in the long run, my sense is that it evens out.
    Maybe.
    But taking $100,000 from the closure of Loker and giving it to the MS & HS kind of strikes me as stealing the wallet of a man passed out in the street - a bit opportunistic.

    It makes one wonder how much the anticipation of having a $100,000 windfall for sports played into the decision to close Loker.

    .
    John Flaherty

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

  6. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    In a perfect world, we might have continued with our past policy. Clearly, based on the (reasonable) reaction of parents to the transportation problems of the first two weeks of school, no one likes long and crowded rides. As financial pressures have grown, we elected this year to reduce the level of transportation to help preserve the classroom experience. Could we have done so sooner? No doubt. But were the efficiencies "unnoticed?" Hardly. Rather, they were traded off in the interest of a level of service appreciated by families.
    This was from the Future of the Schools (and Playdates) thread, but I thought it would be better responded to here. I have to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with the concluding sentence of this paragraph as it pertains to the reconfiguration decision that was made. Don't you think the families would have appreciated more keeping the three schools open and "traded off" some transportation inconveniences? Instead you have both: unsatisfactory bus service and crowded elementary schools.

    I think the complaint was that the inefficiencies weren't even looked at as a way to save money for the past several years, nor were adding bus fees. If you're going to reduce service in one area (classrooms and schools), it has to be augmented elsewhere (logical, safe, and efficient transportation).

  7. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Grasso View Post
    This was from the Future of the Schools (and Playdates) thread, but I thought it would be better responded to here. I have to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with the concluding sentence of this paragraph as it pertains to the reconfiguration decision that was made. Don't you think the families would have appreciated more keeping the three schools open and "traded off" some transportation inconveniences? Instead you have both: unsatisfactory bus service and crowded elementary schools.
    Short of eliminating transportation for everyone inside of 2 miles at the K-6 level, and for everyone in grades 7-12, there wasn't nearly enough "transportation inefficiency" to ward off implementing the reconfiguration one year in advance. Of course, this assumes that reducing the amount of the override was necessary to gain passage of the override. As it is, we're projecting that we'll live within the 3 school transportation budget (it appears that this will be close--it's certainly possible that we'll go over by some amount).

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Grasso View Post
    I think the complaint was that the inefficiencies weren't even looked at as a way to save money for the past several years, nor were adding bus fees. If you're going to reduce service in one area (classrooms and schools), it has to be augmented elsewhere (logical, safe, and efficient transportation).
    That complaint is false. While we may not do a detailed analysis of transportation each year, it's always on the table. And the implementation of bus fees has been discussed each of the past several years.

    As for "reducing classroom service/augmenting elsewhere," I think that you have it backwards. Our objective was to *preserve* classroom service knowing that we would be taking a hit in terms of transportation time and elbow room.

  8. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    . Our objective was to *preserve* classroom service knowing that we would be taking a hit in terms of transportation time and elbow room.
    If I hear this line about "preserving classroom services" again, I think I'm going to scream.

    You have NOT preserved classrooms services! Don't you get that?
    You have failed at that objective.

    Yes, you managed to keep all the teachers, and that is commendable, but you have stuffed every classroom and both buildings to at or near capacity in order to do it.

    And even if you'd succeeded, "preserving classroom services" is only one of many aspects that should have been considered. I'm sure you "considered" many others as well, but my point is that, just as I've said about the issued of safety, this other aspects should not have been trumped by "preserving classroom services".
    John Flaherty

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

  9. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    If I hear this line about "preserving classroom services" again, I think I'm going to scream.
    John, thank you for the reminder. I had momentarily forgotten that repetition was your exclusive domain. [sarcasm]

  10. #115
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    Jeff, perhaps it would be helpful to post some information on the average class sizes this year v. last. Just an aggregate measure across all the ES classrooms would probably suffice.

    I find it interesting that my son's 4th grade class is larger than the 4th grade classes last year, but my daughter's 2nd grade class is smaller. Her teacher noted how much easier the class is to deal with this year from being several kids smaller, and how much more individual attention he has been able to provide. (Of course, the reverse is probably true in my son's class)

  11. #116
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    It is not the repetition itself that troubles me.

    It's when it is used to perpetuate mistruths, misleading information or spin that I've got a problem with.

    Maybe the SC and Admin are proud of themselves for "preserving classroom services".
    But here are a few who maybe are not so enthusiastic:

    Teachers who have to finish their school day by babysitting our kids for 15 minutes (in good weather - no doubt, it will be significantly more when the snow comes) after the bell rings every afternoon because you're trying to run too few buses and they arrive late every day

    Teachers, all (or is it just most?) of whose classrooms are now at or near capacity. They won't complain to you or Gary because he is their boss, but you KNOW they're not liking this. Would you?

    Parents, who wait in very long lines every morning and afternoon, for their kids at the curb

    The environment, which in spite of this administration's talk of green schools is getting polluted more each day by the exorbitantly long bus routes and by the large number of additional cars on the road whose drivers are parents that have (for good reason) given up on any hope of this bus thing ever working out and are now driving their kids, then sitting waiting in line to pick them up with their cars idling.

    Children who, in spite of what we're being told by the administration are learning extremely poor eating habits because they don't have enough time to eat their lunches. Some are eating them at 3 o'clock on the way home, some are not eating them at all. Yes, this is STILL going on, in spite of the additional 5 minutes they've been granted.

    Children who, in spite of their parents' best efforts and warnings ARE going out into traffic at HH, jumping out of cars that are not in the proper line, and making their way through areas that have no crosswalks.

    How does all of this affect their school experience?
    Poor eating habits not only affect a child's ability to learn but are a bad example to teach them.

    Stressed out parents and stressed out teachers are going to be irritable and less effective.

    The parts of this plan that are bad for the environment sends the wrong message to the kids. Not only are we messing up the environment, but we're exposing our kids to this plan that didn't have to be.

    To say that you have succeeded because you're "preserving classroom services" is pure spin.

    There is a very different reality out there than you are presenting, and people know it because they live it every day.

    .
    John Flaherty

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

  12. #117
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    John, I know I cannot speak to what's going on at Happy Hollow, but I can talk about the status of things at Claypit.

    Having heard quite a bit about the various complaints, I went to Claypit and watched the kids there eat lunch. I asked Debbie Bearse about what was going on at lunch, and she suggested that I watch for myself. So I did. I took about a half-hour, and watched as the third graders ate and finished their lunches and filed out of the cafeteria, and then as the fourth graders entered and went to buy their lunches or to sit down with the lunches they brought. I saw something very different than what I had been hearing. It was unbelievably organized, pleasant and peaceful. Everybody had plenty of time to eat, and I witnessed lots of pleasant conversation as well. The kids were relaxed, and the atmosphere was very positive. The story could be very different at Happy Hollow, but I would definitely suggest that if you haven't, that you go and watch for yourself.

    I've also been impressed at how orderly the pickup process has become. It is just as fast as last year. The buses arrive before school ends, the kids file out of the school and onto the buses or off with their parents if they are early walkers quickly. Then walker pickup begins. The lines are shorter than they were at the start of the year, and in relatively short order (18 minutes, I'm told is now typical), the last walker is gone.

    The bus routes may be slightly longer than typical, but the people I've checked with who live over by Loker have all told me that their buses are arriving much more quickly than at the start of the year, and the routes are reasonable.

    I found all this pleasantly surprising. I also know that Loker-K bus routes have been added, including BASE routes, having driven behind one of them earlier in the week.

    I know there have been a lot of complaints, but this is now the fourth week of school, and things seem very under control. I don't know how many of the remaining complaints are things that are now properly handled, and how many are things that truly remain. But from what I have seen first hand at Claypit, things seem to be working.

    I would encourage anyone who has a complaint about what's happening to go check it out first hand. You may find things aren't as you expected, and if not, perhaps you'll have some ideas about how to help improve things.

  13. #118
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    Kim,

    Just to clarify, my comments about lunchtime pertain to HH. I've never heard of a problem with that at CH.

    The problem is that the HH cafeteria is less than 1/3 the size of Loker's, as you can see here.

    Somehow the SC thought that this wouldn't be a problem (along with safety, less room for pick up & drop off, smaller facility, more crowded hallways, computer keyboarding taking place in the hallway, etc.), so they went with the school that had the best windows deal.

    .
    John Flaherty

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

  14. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Kim,

    Just to clarify, my comments about lunchtime pertain to HH. I've never heard of a problem with that at CH.
    John, I had heard this complaint about Claypit as well, but I do not believe it to be valid. The first day or two of school, there may well have been much longer delays in the food lines because of a change in the way the kids pick up their lunch cards. So a complaint about long lines and not enough time to eat might have been valid for a day or two. And these complaints can linger beyond their useful life.

    This is why I reiterate the key part of my post (and not just to you, but to everyone). Go check it out for yourself. It's possible you'll find that things aren't as you'd been told (perhaps the problem has been fixed), or you might find that you have an idea that could help.

  15. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Kim,

    Just to clarify, my comments about lunchtime pertain to HH. I've never heard of a problem with that at CH.

    The problem is that the HH cafeteria is less than 1/3 the size of Loker's, as you can see here.

    Somehow the SC thought that this wouldn't be a problem (along with safety, less room for pick up & drop off, smaller facility, more crowded hallways, computer keyboarding taking place in the hallway, etc.), so they went with the school that had the best windows deal.

    .
    John, you can continue to compare Loker and Happy Hollow if you need to, but the fact is that lunch at both schools are running well. Have you gone in to observe yourself? If you are going to say that there is a problem it would be helpful to specify the problem and offer up a solution. From what I have seen, lunch at HH is working well. Same for pick up & drop off and computer keyboarding.

    As you continue to express negativity, it would be helpful if you could not make blanket statements and instead focus on the specific problem. That way those of us who are trying to address any inconveniences can better understand how it is actually impacting the kids.

    Anyone who may have been lucky enough to see the assembly at HH this week should be very proud of the kids. They were amazing- Loker shared the birthday song and HH shared the HH song. They are joining together and rising up to every challenge. We should all follow their lead.

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