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

Region 1 letter signed by 5 of the 6 First Selectmen (Part Deux) Reply

Here is the letter circulated by Curtis Rand, on an idea originated in a email from Bruce Adams, signed by, once again 5 of the 6 First Selectmen(woman) in our area.

Once again, it offers no real direction to our volunteer board of education  to communicate with one another, and the administration. Once again it  talks about common ground, it asks that in order for the system to move forward, we urge the Region 1 Board and Administration work together in a flexible way with public input, and then,  it asks that  the residents “might” support the budget in the next referendum in the “spirit” of cooperation.

 

Please read the attached letter. The main questions we at The Region One Report have is the following:

1) residents “might” support the budget in the next referendum in the “spirit” of cooperation.

Residents have been willing to cooperate, it is the board and the administration that have not budged on inch. A Board and administration that ignored three public hearings, not one, not two, but three public hearings that all said loud and clear..its not the money, it’s the administrative contracts.  For the public to cooperate, we need to feel that we are listened to, alas, neither the majority of the board, or the administration is listening. You can NOT have cooperation when one side refuses to listen.

2)   in order for the system to move forward, we urge the Region 1 Board and Administration work together in a flexible way with public input.

In four budget votes, in four budget information workshops the Region 1 Board majority and the administration have refused to do so. Lets see if at the budget workshop on Thursday August 8th, if they (the board and administration) will move forward and work together in a flexible way with public input, and put forth a budget that represents even a fraction of what the public asks.

The ball is CLEARLY in their court, now, lets see if they want sellet2167 sellet1166to play ball, or take their ball and go home again.

 

Food For Thought from The Berkshire Eagle…. 1

SHEFFIELD — Superintendent Michael Singleton, who has led the Southern Berkshire Regional School District for five years, was praised for his steady leadership that ended this week upon his retirement. District officials describe Singleton as a competent and thoughtful district operator, but low-key and challenged when communicating, a weakness highlighted by his controversial recommendation for the School Committee to consider closing the outlying elementary schools.

Mount Everett Regional High School Principal Glen Devoti described Singleton as a “steady hand at the wheel” who allowed administrators and teachers to do their jobs without interfering.

In Singleton’s last year, Mount Everett was recognized in U.S. News and World Report’s prestigious list of top schools in the nation based on 2010-11 academic scores. Devoti credited Singleton for understanding the importance of extracurricular activities that promote positive culture and foster academic success.

Singleton retires after 43 years of experience, starting as a junior high school social science teacher. Prior to joining the district, he served as the special education development director in Williamstown Elementary School District between 2003 and 2008. He was also the superintendent at Red Creek School District in New York.

Region One Report hears another letter is coming from the “Gang Of Five” (First Selectmen)…. 1

Reports from SEVERAL reliable people in Sharon, Salisbury, North Canaan and Kent to the Region One Report indicate that the First Selectmen in Region One are circulating a letter from First Selectman Bruce Adams of Kent on the budget situation in Region One. If true, one would hope it not a similar to  the limp, feeble letter of support that  was signed on to last year. If this is true, and the First Selectmen are as  short-sighted in this letter, as last year (well 5 of the 6 last year!), then I suggest the First Selectmen start to attend Region One Board meetings.

Why you may ask? Well in the last three and a half years I have been at almost every Board Of Education meeting, and you know what? The only First Selectmen I have seen is the Falls Village First Selectman. I found it sad that last year the First Selectmen could show such support when not a one of the five had attended ANY of the meetings. And, I can tell you folks, its been the same this year. Bruce Adams attended 1, yup, 1 budget hearing. Maybe its time the selectmen start to listen to the voters in their towns? Mr. Adams, your town has now voted down the budget three times in a row. Mr.  Loucks, your town has defeated the budget 4 times in a row, Mr. Rand, Salisbury has defeated it four times in a row, Falls village, well it is clear Pat knows where her town stands, and Cornwall is almost evenly divided after 4 votes.

If the letter is another wishy, washy, lets support the budget, and deal with the board later letter, FORGET IT. Lets look at the facts First Selectmen:

1) The Board Of Education sent the first budget to vote so sure it was going to be defeated, they scheduled a special session before the vote for right after the vote to discuss ways to pass the budget.

2) The third budget and the fourth budgets were exactly the same!! That means in four attempts, the Region knew it had three failures they were submitting.

3) The Board Chair claims it is ” the angry few”.  62% are not the “angry Few”, but the  “sick of the same B.S Sixty”!

So we hope this letter, first circulated from Kent, is a letter that calls for compromise from the board and administration. The public has spoken FOUR TIMES.

Remember when Bill Clinton ran for President the first time, the slogan  James Carville had coined as a campaign strategist of Bill Clinton’s” THE ECONOMY, STUPID!”

Well, here is a new slogan for the First Selectmen and the Region One Board…”Hey! It’s not the dollars and cents”.

Well, you are all forewarned, lets see if the First Selectmen will get involved to help settle this impasse with the board and administration, or if they will just create one more roadblock.