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Thread: Our School "Reconfiguration"

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    With WVN, of course, you need to consider the source (cue John Flaherty response to the effect that the same is true of me). I do not object to any hint of criticism (or actual criticism itself), just those that are unfair. In the case of the elementary school configuration, WVN saw fit not to report the context of my objection: namely, that I saw no reason to saddle Dr. Burton with criticism that in this case should have been directed at me (recall that Dr. Burton recommended against the reconfiguration for FY09).

    As for the general subject of the superintendent evaluation, I find it to be broken. As Dr. Burton will attest, when I have (infrequent) constructive criticism of his work, I share it with him directly and immediately rather than waiting for an arbitrary once a year (and flawed) event.

    Any short-changing of technology has been that of the School Committee, not the Superintendent, and, of course, not in a vacuum, but rather in the context of competing budget needs. The Superintendent's Technology Task Force, supported by the Committee, is a strong step forward.

    The Superintendent's response to the election law violation alluded to by WVN was appropriate; they are correct that we should have added this commendation to his evaluation. Perhaps WVN faults Dr. Burton for not hovering over the shoulder of each of his 200+ employees monitoring their every keystroke.

    "Other matters" sounds as if there's some long litany of offenses, but absent any listing of them, it's a weak charge that falls flat.

    And as for the subject of transportation, there is no doubt that it has not been smooth. I certainly don't blame Dr. Burton or Ms. Buhler for that, and I laud their efforts to repair the situation thrust on them by the School Committee.

    I regret the discomfort that this situation has caused but would like to remind Wayland residents of the overarching reason for it--getting last April's override passed. We can argue until the end of time whether it would have been approved without the reconfiguration, but to no avail.
    I'm certainly glad Jeff took the time to address the key issues -- my spelling issues. FYI, my laptop keyboard is having issues and the spelling errors are a result of that. I do know how to spell (except in the case of Joy Buhler's last name -- that was a misspelling which I will correct in future posts).

    Why am I not surprised that Jeff defends the SC as it relates to Gary Burton's review? Nobody should be. Let's just say the defense is as "flat" as the list of charges.

    As for not blaming Gary Burton or Joy Buhler on transportation, who is to blame, Jeff? If it is not these folks, is it the SC's fault? Let me guess, it is the fault of parents who are not used to having the new "relaxed" ride homes. Next we'll be told that the late busses are really good because it gives parents more time to themselves and/or saves babysitting costs. That type of analysis/spin sounds just like what we have come to expect.

  2. #17
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    Default ...is paved with good intentions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I regret the discomfort that this situation has caused but would like to remind Wayland residents of the overarching reason for it--getting last April's override passed. We can argue until the end of time whether it would have been approved without the reconfiguration, but to no avail.
    Oh, OK then. Who brought that issue up, Jeff? Yes, the override passed because/in spite of this obviously rushed decision. I hope you assume more responsibility for rectifying the effects of it than simply defending it on those thin merits.

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    One more thing....

    A mother just e-mailed me to remind me that the bussing issue is not confined to the length of bus rides. The overcrowded busses eliminating playdate transportation and the transportation of all but the smallest musical instruments is a loss as well. This shouldn't be overlooked, as it to represents loss of service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post

    I regret the discomfort that this situation has caused but would like to remind Wayland residents of the overarching reason for it--getting last April's override passed. We can argue until the end of time whether it would have been approved without the reconfiguration, but to no avail.
    Jeff,

    Discomfort is an understatement. Besides the saftey concerns;
    It's nearly impossible to get children to any after school activities. We had to cancel a classs our daughter took for years.
    The kids can't have playdates unless they are picked up. If a child's parent works, they cannot send their children home with anyone because the bus doesn't allow it.
    The kids are exhausted having to leave the house an hour early and returning an hour later.
    I believe it's the school committee's responsibility to advocate for schools, not chop them up.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Wow, it really is the fault of the Loker kids. How could they not realize that sacrificing some/all of recess to make sure there is enough time to eat lunch is the "HH way." I would hate to have a situation where you both have proper time for lunch AND recess. To be fair, the CH kids still have that and the HH kids would have had that had Loker been used instead of HH. Why worry about those details , though. Let's just live with the compromised situation instead..
    No it is not anyone's fault, I am not placing blame, simply trying to explain why kids or parents might say what they do. And fyi Jeff, the so called HH way includes both time for lunch AND recess. Not sure why you think Loker would have "still had that" if Loker had been used instead of HH. With that many kids I'm sure there may have been changes (and certainly overlapping).



    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I wonder who, besides Tracey, thinks it is completely acceptable for it to take 30 minutes to load 5-year old kids on a bus and then have them ride for up to 45 minutes or more. Geez, talk about trying to paint the grey sky blue. Hey CH parents, are you as happy as Tracey is about the massive increase in commute time for your little kindergarteners?..
    Jeff- funny, I don't remember using the words "happy" or "completely acceptable". Good thing my post still exists so others can take a look back at what was truly stated and not the dramatic, inflammatory remarks you have made. I also find it pitiful that you are needing to solicit negative feedback--that only tells me that you don't have enough evidence, based on your own experience, and need to put out a "call" for others to back your assumptions. I'd suggest focusing more on your own experiences and not trying so hard to search for points from other people. I'm sure if there are CH parents who wish to chime in about their "little kindergarteners", they will do so without an invitation from you.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    maybe during those "couple of years" that it takes to understand the pickup, we may lose a few kids along the way and most definitely clog up our neighborhoods with more traffic and resulting pollution. Price of change, I guess.?..
    Again, you are not understanding my point. It should not take 2 years to "understand the pickup". It can, however, take a while to get used to times and places and how best to navigate them. I am finding this to be true at Loker as well.
    As for your joke about "losing a few kids along the way"....no comment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The above synopsis of pickup borders on some of the most irresponsible, excuse-laden dribble ever written on the subject of the reconfiguarion. Michael Abend certainly predicted what is happening, and the SC chose to ignore that expert analysis. ?..
    Call it what you want Jeff (though a bit rude!); it is my opinion. If this is what Abend predicted, then I think we are ok. BTW, I didn't experience the SC ignoring Abend's analysis.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    We live in a town with amongst the highest tax rate in the state. We have seen consistent overrides passed here every couple of years and have seen a corresponding degredation of our school system.
    I disagree. The only thing I see degrading is our high school facility. I think our teachers and programs are amazing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    We went from three schools and a very harmonious community to two packed schools and parents who went form never raising a grouse during their time in Wayland to becoming viruently anti-School Committee and anti-school administration.
    Yes, I agree, the anger and anti-school stance are terrible. I do see communities joining together to make this work though and am hopeful everyone can appreciate all we have and help to find solutions to what doesn't work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    What spin! We didn't avoid adding a K teacher. There was a "phantom" K teacher in last year's budget that was "cut" from this year's budget because that position was never used.
    I don't know about any "spins" or "phantoms" but great that we didn't have to add a K teacher.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Also, we didn't keep class sizes and all our great programs. We have two packed buildings with some classes over size, we lost things like Monday meeting at Loker which was a fantastic element of this community, book buddies for Kindergarteners are probably a thing of the past (along with the integration of these students with their brothers and sisters until Grade 1), and we did it all to "get the override passed" as Jeff D. notes again in this thread.
    Like I said, we have less classes over size this year than last. Ask Dr. Burton, he has the facts.

    As far as "packed buildings" go, yes, they are more crowded, less elbow room in the caf., longer waits for a swing, incoveniences abound, but what Wayland is good at, classroom teaching, has been preserved.

    Re: book buddies for K and one more year's wait for siblings to be together is a bummer. Both of those are losses which directly affect my family. Are they truly having negative impact on my kids education? Not as much as losing good teachers, programs or class sizes. With this economy, I think we are forced to give up some great things in all corners of our lives.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    See my post about the non-response to the still open question of when the busses will come Monday morning. These folks can't get out of their own way on the bussing issue.
    I agree that the bussing situation has been very confusing, frustrating and inconvenient. I do not think it is helpful to try and pin down a specific time for Monday's bus route and complain that Gary says 15 minutes and the driver says 5. I think at first we are forced to accept a window of time for a few days to a week. Then I think we will get a much better sense of when to go to the stops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Yes, we have wonderful teachers. These folks have been more than graceful in their adaptation to the system. That is all I can agree with above..
    I'm glad we agree!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    We took the jewel of our town and devalued it while paying more for the privilege. It is both a shame and a black mark on our community. Of course, we can reverse course by putting things back the way they were. I won't hold my breath, though. I, for one, would gladly pay my share of the miniscule amount of money we shaved from the budget (and the net number will be nowhere closed to the purported savings quoted in the Spring) for this result.
    It is unfortunate that you see shame and black marks on our community. I hope you can find enough good here to get beyond that.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    And fyi Jeff, the so called HH way includes both time for lunch AND recess. Not sure why you think Loker would have "still had that" if Loker had been used instead of HH. With that many kids I'm sure there may have been changes (and certainly overlapping).
    Tracy,
    Perhaps the reason Jeff said that is because Loker's cafeteria is more than twice the size of Happy Hollow's.


    As for your joke about "losing a few kids along the way"....no comment.
    With "no comment" as a response to a very serious point, you're starting to sound like an honorary member of the SC yourself, Tracy. [grin]
    John Flaherty

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

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Tracy,
    Perhaps the reason Jeff said that is because Loker's cafeteria is more than twice the size of Happy Hollow's.]
    My point was that at HH the kids have both lunch AND recess time, just as they do at Loker or CH. They are NOT "sacrificing" playground time to eat lunch! Just b/c it is in different order (lunch, then recess vs. recess, then lunch) does not mean there isn't time alloted for each. If there is a discussion to be had about which is a better method (and I'm wondering if recess first may be better?), that is fine, but in the meantime, nobody should be making statements that at HH they have to choose between lunch or recess!


    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    With "no comment" as a response to a very serious point, you're starting to sound like an honorary member of the SC yourself, Tracy. [grin]
    Here is what Jeff Baron stated:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jeff Baron
    "maybe during those "couple of years" that it takes to understand the pickup, we may lose a few kids along the way and most definitely clog up our neighborhoods with more traffic and resulting pollution. Price of change, I guess.?.. " end quote.


    "A very serious point" John??? I did not take it that way. The topic is quite serious and my "no comment" was b/c I don't believe Jeff's comment was respectful or appropriate. Obviously the issue of "losing a few kids along the way" is horrifying---I truly have no comment for someone who can speak of it with such jest and levity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    My point was that at HH the kids have both lunch AND recess time, just as they do at Loker or CH. They are NOT "sacrificing" playground time to eat lunch! Just b/c it is in different order (lunch, then recess vs. recess, then lunch) does not mean there isn't time alloted for each. If there is a discussion to be had about which is a better method (and I'm wondering if recess first may be better?), that is fine, but in the meantime, nobody should be making statements that at HH they have to choose between lunch or recess!
    This does not change the fact that Loker's cafeteria is more than twice the size of Happy Hollow's and that with more kids able to eat at a time, whether they are rotating through or not, lunch would not be so rushed.



    Here is what Jeff Baron stated:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jeff Baron
    "maybe during those "couple of years" that it takes to understand the pickup, we may lose a few kids along the way and most definitely clog up our neighborhoods with more traffic and resulting pollution. Price of change, I guess.?.. " end quote.


    "A very serious point" John??? I did not take it that way. The topic is quite serious and my "no comment" was b/c I don't believe Jeff's comment was respectful or appropriate. Obviously the issue of "losing a few kids along the way" is horrifying---I truly have no comment for someone who can speak of it with such jest and levity.
    Whether or not you appreciate his sarcasm, this is a VERY serious point, because, as I'm sure you are aware, it happened several times last week.
    Yes, the kids were found, but to the parents waiting for them at the bus stops, frantically calling on cell phones, this was inexcusable.

    .
    John Flaherty

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

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    This does not change the fact that Loker's cafeteria is more than twice the size of Happy Hollow's and that with more kids able to eat at a time, whether they are rotating through or not, lunch would not be so rushed..
    If you feel an appropriate amount of time is not scheduled for lunch, then why not raise that issue with the appropriate personnel--lobby for longer lunch periods? The size of the lunchroom does not have direct correlation with the time frame allotted for lunch. As a matter of fact, according to Jim Lee, this year time was added to each lunch period. My point is not that lunch is long, leisurely and empty! From what I saw and heard from the lunch monitor, most kids are fine. There will always be some who will feel they have too much time and always be some who feel they have too little. Nobody is denied the opportunity to eat lunch and I am always amazed at how smoothly lunch runs, given the large number of kids streaming through.



    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Whether or not you appreciate his sarcasm, this is a VERY serious point, because, as I'm sure you are aware, it happened several times last week.
    Yes, the kids were found, but to the parents waiting for them at the bus stops, frantically calling on cell phones, this was inexcusable.
    .
    I agree, and these situations unfortunately occur every year--everywhere. Sometimes because of a miscommunication between a parent and child about where/how they are going after school. Especially in the beginning of a school year with new bus routes and new school assignments. Thankfully, we are a small community and many times I have seen other parents/teachers/bus drivers/administrators go to all human lengths to reconsile the situation very quickly. You're right, it is far worse for the frantic grown-ups than even the kids, themselves!

  10. #25
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    Look, Tracey is obviously OK with the sub-standard degradation from last year to this one. Nothing I say, nor anyone else, will knock her and her buddies out of the fantasy that things are hunky-dorry. How else can you explain saying that someone thinks it is (unfortunately) OK to lose a few kids because it "happens everywhere." I speak of it sarcastically because it is SHOCKING that it happens and excused away by Tracey and others as routine. Sure, all is not bad (my daughter has a great teacher and she enjoys school, for example), but all is not nearly as good as it once was or could/should be. There will always be these party-line toters and I frankly cannot put any stock in the "we'll just have to keep adjusting to what we're given" point-of-view. I DEMAND that we strive to be the best at all times. As a taxpayer, I can do this and our taxes are too high to expect anything less.

    I'll couch what I'm about to say by noting my upcoming thoughts are not personal attacks on character, but are statements in regards to job performance as a town volunteer only. That being said, Jeff D. has, at multiple times (including this thread) said we did this to pass the override. The difference in enrollment is only 11 students. He should resign his position on the SC for putting politics before the overall quality of our kids' education. Lou Jurist has said that he wishes we could have three elementary schools. We could have for a little less than $50/family (assuming the ridiculous touted savings were true -- the number is most likely far less)! A SC that really cared about our elementary schools would have fought until the last fight was fought to keep all necessary dollars in the budget to keep our three schools. I would be ashamed to be a part of this wrecking crew. I KNOW I'm not the only one that feels this way.

    I invited (and still do) others to comment not for lack of evidence, but because it takes a revolution sometimes to create the necessary noise to affect meaningful change.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Look, Tracey is obviously OK with the sub-standard degradation from last year to this one. Nothing I say, nor anyone else, will knock her and her buddies out of the fantasy that things are hunky-dorry. How else can you explain saying that someone thinks it is (unfortunately) OK to lose a few kids because it "happens everywhere." I speak of it sarcastically because it is SHOCKING that it happens and excused away by Tracey and others as routine. .
    Firstly Jeff, could you not restate what you think I say/mean? My comments are still there and people are free to interpret them.

    That said, I now need to address your statements about how I feel!
    I said nothing of being "OK" with anything "sub-standard" or "degraded". I never spoke for any "buddies" about any "hunky-dorry" "fantasy".
    What I did say was that "I agree" with John F. about losing kids being inexcusable. When I stated "you're right" I was agreeing with John that such a situation is horrifying. Your account that "it is (unfortunately) OK to lose a few kids because it happens everywhere" is entirely your own opinion, not mine. I'm not sure who "Tracy and others" are--I didn't see anyone else typing with me!


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Sure, all is not bad (my daughter has a great teacher and she enjoys school, for example), but all is not nearly as good as it once was or could/should be..
    Glad to hear she is enjoying school

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    There will always be these party-line toters and I frankly cannot put any stock in the "we'll just have to keep adjusting to what we're given" point-of-view..
    Not sure who you mean by "party-line toters" but I like their point of view and believe it is exactly how we all get through life..."adjust to what we're given".

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I DEMAND that we strive to be the best at all times. As a taxpayer, I can do this and our taxes are too high to expect anything less.
    I agree that we should strive to be the best at all times. I think alot of people choose to stay and pay the high taxes b/c our teachers and programs are so great.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    A SC that really cared about our elementary schools would have fought until the last fight was fought to keep all necessary dollars in the budget to keep our three schools. .
    In my opinion, our SC did "fight until the last fight was fought to keep all necessary dollars in the budget" but this is where we differ, I think they did it to keep our teachers and programs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    Not sure who you mean by "party-line toters" but I like their point of view and believe it is exactly how we all get through life..."adjust to what we're given".
    No Tracy, success is best achieved by those who surpass the mean. "Adjusting to what we're given" is the hallmark of mediocrity and is not acceptable to me.

    I stand by my entire post. The SC and those who support our new ES structure (you, SOS, etc.) have set us back and made us pay more for the privilege.

    BTW, in case I wasn't clear before (and since you keep bringing this up), this has NOTHING to do with the quality of teachers. Thank god we have them.
    Last edited by Jeff Baron; 09-14-2008 at 07:40 PM. Reason: I've been misspelling Tracy's name. Corrected here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    BTW, in case I wasn't clear before (and since you keep bringing this up), this has NOTHING to do with the quality of teachers. Thank god we have them.
    And I would say it has EVERYTHING to do with the quality of teachers! That, and the programs and class sizes, have been preserved. There have been losses in order to protect these--you call it mediocrity, I call it preservation of the "jewel" for which we strive.

  14. #29
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    Tracy,

    Let's keep this in perspective.

    Put aside the quality of our teachers for a second - that's a given.

    Loker was closed and our school and buses made overcrowded, in order to help the likelihood of the override passing. Jeff D has said this time and again.

    So really, they took a gamble.

    As wonderful as our teachers are, it can't be denied that there are other important aspects of the educational experience worth preserving as well - elbow room, sufficient time to eat lunch, bus rides that are not so lengthy that the kids come home an hour or more after school let out, the ability to bring a friend home on the bus for a play date.

    These things aren't just conveniences - they are inherently a part of a positive educational experience. Think about your own childhood. Play dates at this age can lead to significant, life-long and life-changing friendships. Why our school committee would favor Ultimate Frisbee over an entire school community is beyond me.

    They have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Without considering, or even acknowledging the tremendous value in what they were giving up, they were so hell bent on passing the override, that they ignored these other important considerations and did a very, very foolish thing.

    It is not a foregone conclusion that the override would have failed had they not done this.
    If their interest in passing the override was to preserve the schools, then they really dropped the ball.
    They made a mess of our schools in trying to preserve them.
    John Flaherty

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    BTW, in case I wasn't clear before (and since you keep bringing this up), this has NOTHING to do with the quality of teachers. Thank god we have them.
    It would be more appropriate to thank our current and former administrators.

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