A letter from Fran Besmer of Kent passed along to The Region One Report 1

Fran Besmer

August 1, 2013

Pick your cliché: The definition of insanity (or stupidity) is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome; If you’re in a hole, stop digging. Or, What part of NO do you not understand? The 4th Referendum which voters in Region One have rejected since May 7th was defeated July 23rd by the widest margin yet.

The tables have turned on the so-called experts; voters do not trust them and are determined to teach them a lesson, or several lessons: in humility, in analyzing the responses, and in responding to clear and convincing evidence.

Representative democracy, in the persons of the Regional Board of Education and the All Boards Committee, has failed; taxpayers are resorting to time-honored participatory democracy. If they are insulted again by having to vote on self-serving contracts, ledger tweaks, or no change at all in numbers over $14 million on the ballot, they will continue to send the budget back to the drawing board. Steady habits.

Don’t the administrators and their supporters see how self-defeating their intransigence is? Public scrutiny has prompted unprofessional scandal. The business manager and HVRHS Principal have largely escaped the public’s wrath, but it can’t be easy for them to do their jobs properly in a hostile climate.

A lofty mission statement about Core Values is in danger of turning travesty into tragedy.

Prospective parents are already seeking alternative school options for their children. Students who should be learning critical thinking skills and socially responsible behavior see authority figures clutching their perks and hectoring their critics. How can the school district and Region One Board of Education begin to restore its reputation?

Here are some suggestions for ways to get to YES on the Region One budget:

– Claw back (void) the three year contracts and annual pay raises for the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent; offer a one-year extension of the current contract;

– Offer severance packages (one year leave of absence with pay at 2012-13 levels) to the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent;

– Request the State Board of Education or CABE to appoint Interim administrators and an Inspector General to review the Pingpank report in light of the 4-time rejection situation; issue findings in the form of a Consent Decree;

– Use funds from state restructuring grants and savings from 2013-2016 administrative contracts;

– Join a rally of students, parents, teachers, alumni/alumnae, and taxpayers at HVRHS on Thursday, August 8th at 5pm (before the next Regional Board meeting).

Fran Besmer