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Thread: Class sizes: FY09 vs. FY08

  1. #16
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    Jeff, I get your analysis and it makes sense to me. The frustration, of course, is that despite the efficiencies created at the grade level, the tightly packed quarters that are created at the school level leave something to be desired (i.e. - lunches, limited space for other non-classroom activities, etc.).

    I would also add that the reason you probably did not do this two years ago is that we weren't ready to implement it, but more importantly, there was no political reason to do so. The override was here and the rush to implement politically trumped the practical consideration of doing this in an acceptable time frame, truly planning for a smooth transition, seriously considering the merits of a grade model vs. a neighborhood model, and deeply evaluating which building(s) to utilize. This is the real root of the original frustration.

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    The frustration, of course, is that despite the efficiencies created at the grade level, the tightly packed quarters that are created at the school level leave something to be desired (i.e. - lunches, limited space for other non-classroom activities, etc.)..
    In this economy plenty of people around here have "something to be desired" and with such great teachers, curriculum and class size limits, we do have alot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    seriously considering the merits of a grade model vs. a neighborhood model.
    As I've said before, I attended those meetings and what I heard was a strong reaction by the public AGAINST this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    and deeply evaluating which building(s) to utilize.
    As far as which building, the SC did their best with a close call-certainly could have been either building. They did dig deep and the longer they were forced to explain their positions, the more damage it did to our community. They obviously had nothing against Loker School (to John F.'s point, there weren't even any SC members from the Happy Hollow district!!).

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    In this economy plenty of people around here have "something to be desired" and with such great teachers, curriculum and class size limits, we do have alot.
    I cannot associate with this type of thinking. With amongst the highest tax burdens in the state, I cannot just agree with the fact that we should just be happy with what we have and not strive for better.

    As I've said before, I attended those meetings and what I heard was a strong reaction by the public AGAINST this.
    I was there too, and I can vividly recall hundreds of parents who were strongly AGAINST what we have now and nobody really cared. If the SC is interested in saving money, they should reopen the grade model and really understand how much more money there is on the table to be saved. Maybe then we can use some of that savings, if any, to regain things we have lost along the way and IMPROVE our offering instead of determining what to cut. I think we threw out what the public wants as a driving criterion and, using your thought process, people who would be unhappy with this model if it saved more money may have to be satisfied with something other than what they want, in this economy.


    As far as which building, the SC did their best with a close call-certainly could have been either building. They did dig deep and the longer they were forced to explain their positions, the more damage it did to our community. They obviously had nothing against Loker School (to John F.'s point, there weren't even any SC members from the Happy Hollow district!!).
    You cannot dig deep in the period of time they had. It is impossible. I won't rehash all the reasons why many think things turned out the way they did, but it was not because of a deep analysis. Explaining their positions was/is an obligation of people elected by the public, not a hassle. I'm sorry if it bothered people and created division. And by the way, I would refrain from using the word "obvious" as it relates to the ES reconfiguration as you did above. There was nothing obvious about anything in that exercise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    I

    As far as which building, the SC did their best with a close call-certainly could have been either building. They did dig deep and the longer they were forced to explain their positions, the more damage it did to our community.
    It was never a close call. They voted on January 15, before the public even knew this was a possibility, to keep HH open - "Upon a motion by Mr. Dieffenbach, seconded by Dr. Jurist, the School Committee voted unanimously (4-0) (Heather abstained) to keep Happy Hollow and Claypit Hill in full operation if it is necessary to move to a consolidated elementary school model."
    That was on January 15th, the day before the infamous "note in the backpacks" that informed parents that Loker would be closing.

    They never took the public's input seriously at all and stuck to their guns,
    dismissing the obvious,
    ignoring the irrefutable, and
    misrepresenting the expert testimony that advised them that this was a bad idea.

    They did not "dig deep".
    They hunkered down.
    And waited for this to be over.
    Big mistake.

    The damage that was done was NOT done by the community asking very logical and important questions. We have a right, and a duty to question, complain, raise hell, write letters when we see what we perceive as injustice and bad decision making.

    Don't shoot the messenger. The damage that was done was done by the School Committee and the administration. All we're doing is pointing it out.



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    John Flaherty

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  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    We have a right, and a duty to question, complain, raise hell, write letters when we see what we perceive as injustice and bad decision making..
    What about the right for others to disagree with you? Especially those who have been involved in these decisions for years and who were voted in to make these decisions? From everything I have seen over the last year +/-, it went far beyond asking questions, complaining, and writing letters. Now raising hell....that I would agree with. None of that takes away their right to make the final decision. In civilized societies, we express what we disagree with, respect decision-making and move on. That is NOT to say we don't strive for what is best, there is always room for improvement---but a decision was made and thankfully we have a structure in place which must be respected, whether you agree, or not. How can we help this happen?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    What about the right for others to disagree with you?
    What is it that I've said that makes you think I would try to deprive others the right to disagree with me?


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    John Flaherty

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  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Baron View Post
    ... seriously considering the merits of a grade model vs. a neighborhood model...
    I can't imagine how awful that would have been. If you consider the logistical difficulties of the current model, you then have to add the reality that some people would have had children at all three elementary schools in the grade model.

    I am very glad that the School Committee considered, and then rejected, this possibility. I know I wrote several emails on this subject when it was under consideration, because I thought it was a non-starter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    I can't imagine how awful that would have been. If you consider the logistical difficulties of the current model, you then have to add the reality that some people would have had children at all three elementary schools in the grade model.

    I am very glad that the School Committee considered, and then rejected, this possibility. I know I wrote several emails on this subject when it was under consideration, because I thought it was a non-starter.
    Kim,

    The bulk of the burden was carried by the Loker Community. The administration, and Mr. Dieffenbach were very determined that no other redistricting would take place, not even to save money, and were very vocal about this.

  9. #24
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    Mary, I think you're mixing two comparisons. But correct me if I'm misunderstanding.

    (1) neighborhood model v. grade-level model. I'm arguing that there are a variety of reasons that a grade-level model would have been particularly hard on the vast majority of ES parents. In that scenario, "Loker" children would still have gone to Loker just for K, but may have had siblings at both Claypit and Happy Hollow. The number of children at the two other schools would probably be similar to what they are now, but now everybody would get bused all over town and far more parents would be dealing with multiple kids at multiple schools. Dealing with school start times and busing would have been much more difficult than with the neighborhood model. Yes, the "pain" would have been shared, but do you think it's better for everybody to share a much greater level of total pain, than to do our best to minimize it, even if it is not evenly shared?

    That is, my opinion is that you would have had exactly as much, or more, discomfort than you currently have, but that I would have had considerably more. I hope my additional discomfort would not have made yours more bearable. I'm sure that's not what you're suggesting, but some of what I have read to date from a variety of people does seem to imply that.

    (2) how to divide the town into two 1-5 schools given the choice of a neighborhood model. Here, I think it is reasonable to ask how best to have done this - should the SC have started from scratch in drawing boundaries, or tried to minimize redistricting from the other two schools? I would be curious how different a solution they might have reached. I suspect it wouldn't have been terribly different. I do think it would have been unfair to individual children to move them in isolation, versus moving large blocks of children together, so I understand the choice the SC made. That said, if a far better solution might have been available via starting from scratch, then that ought to have been considered.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Reichelt View Post
    Mary, I think you're mixing two comparisons. But correct me if I'm misunderstanding.

    (1) neighborhood model v. grade-level model. I'm arguing that there are a variety of reasons that a grade-level model would have been particularly hard on the vast majority of ES parents. In that scenario, "Loker" children would still have gone to Loker just for K, but may have had siblings at both Claypit and Happy Hollow. The number of children at the two other schools would probably be similar to what they are now, but now everybody would get bused all over town and far more parents would be dealing with multiple kids at multiple schools. Dealing with school start times and busing would have been much more difficult than with the neighborhood model. Yes, the "pain" would have been shared, but do you think it's better for everybody to share a much greater level of total pain, than to do our best to minimize it, even if it is not evenly shared?

    That is, my opinion is that you would have had exactly as much, or more, discomfort than you currently have, but that I would have had considerably more. I hope my additional discomfort would not have made yours more bearable. I'm sure that's not what you're suggesting, but some of what I have read to date from a variety of people does seem to imply that.

    (2) how to divide the town into two 1-5 schools given the choice of a neighborhood model. Here, I think it is reasonable to ask how best to have done this - should the SC have started from scratch in drawing boundaries, or tried to minimize redistricting from the other two schools? I would be curious how different a solution they might have reached. I suspect it wouldn't have been terribly different. I do think it would have been unfair to individual children to move them in isolation, versus moving large blocks of children together, so I understand the choice the SC made. That said, if a far better solution might have been available via starting from scratch, then that ought to have been considered.
    Kim,

    I do not want to take anything you said out of context because what you are saying make perfect sense except for one thing. You are assuming that we had some say in the matter. That we were given a "choice". That is not the case. It was decided for us that the "pain" would not be shared. Think about that for a second.

    If a couple of school committee folks had stopped by Loker to discuss the great need to save $200,000 more than the fincom asked them to in the first place, that would indeed be another story. It may not have been convincing enough, but it would have been a gesture of respect to their constituents.

    This was the beginning of a long process that was so painful to be involved in, we contemplated moving out of town. And I loved Wayland. I could never have imagined a better place to live prior to January 2008.

    Where you stand depends upon where you sit. Would you be willing to share the "pain" where your child is concerned? If so, would you rather be involved in the process or have it rammed down your throat?

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Barber View Post
    The bulk of the burden was carried by the Loker Community. The administration, and Mr. Dieffenbach were very determined that no other redistricting would take place, not even to save money, and were very vocal about this.
    I'm not sure to what you are referring, nor why I have the pleasure of being singled out. There have been several questions with respect to redistricting.

    1. The Committee and the Administration discussed "grade level" versus "neighborhood" models. By a margin of 26 to 3, residents who responded to the Committee's survey preferred the neighborhood model. The Committee and the Administration were in agreement on staying with that model.

    2. The Committee and the Administration discussed reconfiguring a year early to lower the risk of a failed override. Against the recommendation of the Administration, the Committee unanimously voted in favor of the reconfiguration.

    3. The Committee and the Administration were somewhat split on how the reconfiguration would be carried out with respect to the Kindergarten school. Three members of the Committee supported the Administration and the admittedly close decision to make Loker the Kindergarten school, while two members of the Committee supported making Happy Hollow the Kindergarten school.

    4. The Committee and Administration agreed upon redistricting lines. Information about the redistricting attributes that were under consideration can be found here. To my knowledge, at least some of the 26 redistricting options that the Administration explored were created "from scratch."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach View Post
    I'm not sure to what you are referring, nor why I have the pleasure of being singled out...
    That may be because when Gary said that he wanted as "little disruption as possible to the Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow families", you piped in with something like, "I would take that a step further and say we want zero impact on the Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow familes".
    That's a line that most Loker families will never forget.



    3. The Committee and the Administration were somewhat split on how the reconfiguration would be carried out with respect to the Kindergarten school. Three members of the Committee supported the Administration and the admittedly close decision to make Loker the Kindergarten school, while two members of the Committee supported making Happy Hollow the Kindergarten school.
    Technically, I suppose you could say that's true. In theory.
    However, that is not how they voted.
    As I recall, they voted to let the original vote stand, meaning that Deb and Louis got to say they would have favored Loker if you were to vote again, but since there was no revote, it closed anyway.
    Am I forgetting something about this?


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    John Flaherty

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  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    What is it that I've said that makes you think I would try to deprive others the right to disagree with me?
    When you say things like the SC was wrong, made a mistake, picked the wrong school, didn't hear you, didn't listen, didn't care about safety, didn't listen to your expert, isn't being honest, etc. etc. etc. it is depriving the SC their opinion. These people volunteer their time for the good of all our community and yes, we can question, comment, and challenge all we want, but let's also find a way to respect and accept a decision. Bottom line is we all voted them in to make these decisions and after plenty of public comment, soul searching, and long hours, they did that. So we are all clear that you may disagree with the process & outcome, but to continue arguing the decision (as your signature alone, clearly continues to do) is showing others that you do not accept this and choose not to move forward productively. Honestly John- when all is said and done, all the time spent rehashing the decision here could be better used volunteering in the schools, no?

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by TracyScheidemantel View Post
    When you say things like the SC was wrong, made a mistake, picked the wrong school, didn't hear you, didn't listen, didn't care about safety, didn't listen to your expert, isn't being honest, etc. etc. etc. it is depriving the SC their opinion.
    No. It's not.

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    John Flaherty

    Any views expressed are NOT mine alone.
    Wayland Transparency - Facts Without Spin
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  15. #30
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    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    I'm not sure to what you are referring, nor why I have the pleasure of being singled out...


    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    That may be because when Gary said that he wanted as "little disruption as possible to the Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow families", you piped in with something like, "I would take that a step further and say we want zero impact on the Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow familes".
    That's a line that most Loker families will never forget.
    I don't recall my exact words or those of the superintendent, but anyone listening surely understood that the point was to avoid redistricting an "isolatingly" small group of students from any school.

    For you to characterize my remarks as anything else is an act either of dishonesty or negligence.

    Originally Posted by Jeff Dieffenbach
    3. The Committee and the Administration were somewhat split on how the reconfiguration would be carried out with respect to the Kindergarten school. Three members of the Committee supported the Administration and the admittedly close decision to make Loker the Kindergarten school, while two members of the Committee supported making Happy Hollow the Kindergarten school.


    Quote Originally Posted by John Flaherty View Post
    Technically, I suppose you could say that's true. In theory.
    However, that is not how they voted.
    As I recall, they voted to let the original vote stand, meaning that Deb and Louis got to say they would have favored Loker if you were to vote again, but since there was no revote, it closed anyway.
    Am I forgetting something about this?
    My statement above is not "technically" true. In fact, it is technically false, since, as you point out, the Committee never actually took a re-vote that came out 3-2 in favor of making Loker the Kindergarten school. Rather, my statement above is "substantively" true, in that it captures the outcome and, to the best of my knowledge, the positions of the individual Committee members in arriving at that outcome.

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