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Thread: Our School "Reconfiguration"

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    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.
    Jeff, I can only hope that you've "misspoken." Otherwise, you are demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the elected political office that you quite recently sought. The "quality of our kids' education" isn't something that *competes* with politics, it's something that's *enabled* by politics.

    Choose your definition--I'm happy with the one on Wikipedia.
    Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions.
    I've written in another thread about the education that I'd like us to be able to deliver. In my opinion, one would be hard-pressed to call this education excessive. It's not a stretch, however, to observe that too many in Wayland would deem the necessary funds excessive. So, we strive to find the best balance. We do so through the process called politics.

    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.
    Again, Jeff, I can only conclude that you have a fundamental misunderstanding, this time regarding the budget process. Fighting "until the last fight was fought" sounds noble enough, but how exactly would that have worked?

    Here's one scenario: imagine that the School Committee had gambled, and had then been able to prevail upon the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen, to put an override on the ballot this past April sufficient for a truly preservational budget. Since we're talking about "last fights," we would have to assume that the gamble failed. What then?

    Most likely, we'd have had the same transportation difficulties, but the legitimate complaints would pale in comparison to those about larger class sizes, eliminated co-curricular activities, and other services for at least a year.

    It's interesting to know that you'd have gambled with the education of Wayland's children. I'm proud to be part of a School Committee that didn't take that risk.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    We will, of course, remember that we did this because of the drop in student enrollment in our elementary schools. Well, Jeff D. said it was to pass the override. I believe him.

    According to the latest figures from the school department, there is a grand total of (drum roll, please) 11 (yes, that's right, eleven) fewer students across the entire K-5 spectrum in Wayland as compared to last year (1213 vs. 1202 -- a reduction of 0.9%).

    Was it worth it to jam this "reconfiguration" home with no real analysis or preparation? Well, we got the override passed. But at the cost of the situation we now find ourselves in. All for eleven fewer kids. I'd love to hear someone defend this!
    A more applicable comparison is between the 1,193 students we had in 3 buildings for the 2007-2008 school year relative to the 1,032 students (as of our 8/25 enrollment report) we have in 2 below capacity buildings for the 2008-2009 school year.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    A more applicable comparison is between the 1,193 students we had in 3 buildings for the 2007-2008 school year relative to the 1,032 students (as of our 8/25 enrollment report) we have in 2 below capacity buildings for the 2008-2009 school year.
    Explain your numbers. The enrollment numbers I posted were taken directly from a report issues by Gary Burton's office showing enrollment as of 9/8. How is it he shows over 1,200 students both last year and this one, and you are quoting the numbers above?

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The enrollment numbers I posted were taken directly from a report issues by Gary Burton's office showing enrollment as of 9/8. How is it he shows over 1,200 students both last year and this one, and you are quoting the numbers above?
    Setting aside issues of transportation difficulties, the question of enrollment numbers relates to how crowded the buildings are. As it turns out, enrollment over the last three years (FY07, FY08, and the current FY09) aren't all that dramatically different.

    I didn't look grade by grade, but it may well be that both the FY07 and FY08 grade 1-5 enrollments (the 1,200+ number includes K) could have fit into two buildings without being over capacity based on the class size guidelines.

    FY10 will likely see a large drop, as 230 exiting 5th graders will be "replaced" by roughly 190 entering 1st graders.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Jeff, I can only hope that you've "misspoken." Otherwise, you are demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the elected political office that you quite recently sought. The "quality of our kids' education" isn't something that *competes* with politics, it's something that's *enabled* by politics.

    Choose your definition--I'm happy with the one on Wikipedia.
    Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions.
    I've written in another thread about the education that I'd like us to be able to deliver. In my opinion, one would be hard-pressed to call this education excessive. It's not a stretch, however, to observe that too many in Wayland would deem the necessary funds excessive. So, we strive to find the best balance. We do so through the process called politics.
    Quote away definitions, Jeff. Let me speak plainer English for you. Instead of insisting that we put the correct override on the ballot, you and your colleagues on the SC caved and, in the process, devalued the entire educational experience for our K- students. You view it as heroic, I view it as spineless. I did not misspeak.



    Again, Jeff, I can only conclude that you have a fundamental misunderstanding, this time regarding the budget process. Fighting "until the last fight was fought" sounds noble enough, but how exactly would that have worked?

    Here's one scenario: imagine that the School Committee had gambled, and had then been able to prevail upon the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen, to put an override on the ballot this past April sufficient for a truly preservational budget. Since we're talking about "last fights," we would have to assume that the gamble failed. What then?

    Most likely, we'd have had the same transportation difficulties, but the legitimate complaints would pale in comparison to those about larger class sizes, eliminated co-curricular activities, and other services for at least a year.

    It's interesting to know that you'd have gambled with the education of Wayland's children. I'm proud to be part of a School Committee that didn't take that risk.
    I get budgeting, Jeff. I've been through it many times. Here's how it works -- you put together a budget that provides for all the products/services that are needed and then you work like hell to justify it to the people that have to say yes/no. What the SC did was put together a budget they thought was easiest to sell, not what was right.

    You have ZERO evidence such a gamble, as you say above, would have failed. ZERO, Jeff. In fact, I would have to assume the override would have passed. I discard your gloom and doom scenario as the typical fallback position of a SC too scared to fight for what was right. Of course you're proud. Why take risks when you can run?

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    Setting aside issues of transportation difficulties, the question of enrollment numbers relates to how crowded the buildings are. As it turns out, enrollment over the last three years (FY07, FY08, and the current FY09) aren't all that dramatically different.

    I didn't look grade by grade, but it may well be that both the FY07 and FY08 grade 1-5 enrollments (the 1,200+ number includes K) could have fit into two buildings without being over capacity based on the class size guidelines.

    FY10 will likely see a large drop, as 230 exiting 5th graders will be "replaced" by roughly 190 entering 1st graders.
    (A) I'll believe the enrollment drop when I see it since we were off significantly on the estimates this year.

    (B) The statement is laughable that we could have been in two buildings as early as FY07. You continue to miss the point. The fact that we could have crammed the kids in is not acceptable. We didn't and should not have done so. Not when we have a great third building and not when the marginal cost of doing so is relatively insignificant across the tax base.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    You have ZERO evidence such a gamble, as you say above, would have failed. ZERO, Jeff. In fact, I would have to assume the override would have passed.
    You have ZERO evidence such a gamble would have succeeded. ZERO, Jeff.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    You have ZERO evidence such a gamble would have succeeded. ZERO, Jeff.
    You're right. The difference between your stance and mine is that I would have taken the risk and covered it. If that was too risky, two versions of the override could have been placed on the ballot, the baseline and a supplement asking for the additional $$ to keep our three school system. The SC could have advocated for both to pass, explaining the merits of such. Instead, you guys took the easy way out. You caved. That is not fighting.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    You're right. The difference between your stance and mine is that I would have taken the risk and covered it.
    What does "covered it" mean?

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    What does "covered it" mean?
    Covered your risk that the bigger override was too much by separating out the "controversial" piece into a second override such that if people agreed it was too much, they could vote only for the base override and eschew the amount necesary to keep the three elementary schools.

    On a separate note, why is is that the Gary/Joy/First Student sent out notices with new bus times and they were wrong, by a lot? Our bus, for example, was supposed to start its route at 7:50 am at the Willowbrook Condos. It got to our stop on Woodridge at 7:50am (about ten minutes prior to when it was supposed to). The bus driver told us this would happen on Friday, and said to ignore what was written. I asked Gary this question on Friday, but did not get an answer. Maybe you could let us know why after two weeks of bus issues, a new one was introduced on the day things were supposed to fixed?

  11. #41
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    Default Disappointed ...

    As I follow the down turn in blogging on the Wayland e news site, I am just a citizen who is outraged at the smugness of one of our SC members, and the un-answered issues from a former candidate. My suggestion is that all outraged parents show up at tonight's SC meeting at 6:30 (check the Wayland web site for location). All I know is that nothing is resolved fighting fire with fire. We need to demand that Gary Burton and his board report back to the town on 1. saving from the mess, and 2. the next step. I am a mom of a young family, struggling to stay in Wayland, and questioning whether it is worth it, with other options out there in the form of charter schools, other public schools fast surpassing what our schools offer.

  12. #42
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    Per Mary-Ann's post, I wanted to both second her motion for people to attend tonight's SC meeting and correct the time as 6:30pm is an Executive Session (not open to the public), and 7:30pm is the starting time for the regular session.

    If you're unhappy, you need to be heard. If you're not willing to be heard, you cannot complain about the state of affairs. Here's a sample of how the people in charge of our schools feel about things (as collected from first-person e-mails sent to me, this site, or through newsletters/e-mails sent home):

    • SC Chariman Lou Jurist told a K parent this weekend that "there were just a few parents that were unhappy about being inconvenienced."
    • SC Member Heather Pineault commented to a parent last week that she "was surprised at how well things were going."
    • SC Member Jeff Dieffenbach is all over this thread and others saying how proud he is of being a part of this School Committee and emphasizing how this mess was created to make sure the override passes.
    • Gary Burton has sent out messages to parents noting that, aside from a few minor transportation issues, all seems to be going well. This was followed by a complete reconfiguration of starting times two weeks into school, subsequently followed by mistakes in the bus pick-up times on the first day of this reconfiguration.


    I've mentioned it before, but I'll state it again. It will take a revolution to get the powers that be to pay attention. Short of that, we as a community should be prepared to live with what we've got. I hope to see many tonight.

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    I've mentioned it before, but I'll state it again. It will take a revolution to get the powers that be to pay attention. Short of that, we as a community should be prepared to live with what we've got. I hope to see many tonight.
    Jeff- What exactly is it that you would like to see the "powers that be to pay attention" to tonight? If you think things are so emergent that they are "revolution" worthy (btw,I've not ever seen a revolution, I don't think), what is it that you are fighting for? As I read your comment it sounds like "attention". What is your solution if you see such "degredation" of our ESs?

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    Jeff- What exactly is it that you would like to see the "powers that be to pay attention" to tonight? If you think things are so emergent that they are "revolution" worthy (btw,I've not ever seen a revolution, I don't think), what is it that you are fighting for? As I read your comment it sounds like "attention". What is your solution if you see such "degredation" of our ESs?
    Very simple. Pay attention to the community's voice that the current ES setup is not acceptable. Return us to our previously successful three-school ES system. Let's document the real (if any savings) that this reconfiguration has given us -- NET OF COSTS -- and then ask the voters to approve that additional amount come April. If they say no, well then I can accept (although maybe not be happy about) that outcome. At least the people will have had a chance to decide. If they say yes, and see the value, then we can all return to being happy with a setup that works for all. We can eliminate hour-long bus routes (the K bus stopped at what appeared to be its last or close to last stop @ Woodridge/Brook Trail at 1:20pm), we can have elbow room for our students and teachers, we can bring down class size and we can be proud of ES setup again.

    By calling for a revolution, it is my firm belief that a loud call to action is all that the SC will respond to (if even that). Otherwise, they will just excuse away where we are now and blame "a few parents" for being complainers. Honestly, I couldn't blame them for feeling that way if they only hear from the same small group.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    Very simple. Pay attention to the community's voice that the current ES setup is not acceptable. Return us to our previously successful three-school ES system. Let's document the real (if any savings) that this reconfiguration has given us -- NET OF COSTS -- and then ask the voters to approve that additional amount come April.
    Jeff, on many of your points, I completely agree with you. But I would propose just a tad more patience. The Administration does appear to be taking complaints very seriously, and is working very hard to make the current configuration work. This is still very early in the school year, and it would make sense to give them a little bit longer to work out the kinks, before looking to make a complete change back. I'm not saying that your suggestion should be discarded, merely that it seems premature to say that the reconfiguration cannot work.

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