There is no joy in reporting that I’ll vote no again – for the sixth time — on the Region 1 Board of Education’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2013-2014( take a look at these Connecticut Academic Performance Test results from the past five years) 1

Why I’m voting “no” again

There is no joy in reporting that I’ll vote no again – for the sixth time — on the Region 1 Board of Education’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2013-2014.

Sadly, I’m hoping that the budget plan is defeated on September 17 and one more time in October while the school district awaits the infusion of new energy in the form of four new board members with the November elections.

There are so many reasons to vote against the budget plan until the new board comes in, but overall my reasons for doing so are the abysmal lack of educational leadership on the part of the top education administrators and the current board majority’s blind, unconditional rubber-stamping support of them. The board majority’s servitude to the two administrators is so complete – and so completely embarrassing – that they even refused to act on a board vote to ask the administrators to re-open the three-year contract extensions with 2 percent raises each year – the sweet deal they supported  that will cost taxpayers around $1,000,000 ($1 million) over the next three years.

We have excellent teachers at our high school and we have an excellent interim principal in Ian Strever, who jumped in with both feet to fill the gap left by the sudden departure of the former principal. I wish Ian and the teachers all the best in this new school year and send them prayers (of various kinds!) for success, for the use of the good mind, and for the strength to stand tall and be resilient enough to face the existing pressures and still do the right thing.

We also have excellent students at our high school, but take a look at these Connecticut Academic Performance Test results from the past five years (ignore the “proficiency” scores; it’s a feel-good category that includes the percentage of students who met state goals and those who came close to – but didn’t – meet state goals). Our students are smart, but they are underachieving and it’s not because of our teachers. Because of the way our schools are structured, educational leadership – and what should be accountability — flows from the top down. Our students and our teachers deserve better. They deserve educational leaders who are inspired and can inspire others with enthusiasm and a desire to reject the easy path of mediocrity and instead strive for excellence. Leaders who can actually lead teachers and students to the high levels of academic achievement that we all know they are capable of reaching.

And what about the people in the Region 1 communities who so generously support the school year after year, decade after decade?  We didn’t vote the budget down five times because of its bottom line. We voted no to the status quo of the administrators and the board majority – because we deserve better too. I have every hope that the new improved Region 1 Board of Ed will be able to resolve the problems and refocus on its mission – to provide the best educational opportunities for our students at the most fiscally responsible cost to taxpayers.

–Gale Courey Toensing


Letter from Ed Epstein Reply

To the Editor:
Sadly, I will be voting NO for the sixth time on the Region One budget. I thought progress was being made on getting the Central Office Administrators to give up the final year of their contract.  The Superintendent agreed.  The Assistant Superintendent has not been at recent meetings, so we cannot  get a response.
Attending the recent board meeting on September 9, it was good to hear from HVRHS students that their year has gotten off to a smooth start.  Interim Principal Ian Strever appears to be doing well.  That is all good news.
So why not support the budget if things are going well?  There are many reasons.
—After the fifth budget defeat, the Region One board did NOTHING to adjust the budget.  The Business Manager made technical charges, increasing the budget by $3000, but the Board never even discussed the budget.  This “public be damned” attitude is disgraceful.
—The Central Office Administration is not doing a good job leading the region.  There is turmoil in most of the elementary schools, and that will continue until there is new leadership.  Many of the teacher departures last June, both retirement and other resignations, were the result of that local turmoil.
—The Chairman of the Region One Board is not providing effective leadership.  He stifles discussion at board meetings and he makes statements that are not correct.  And, he does not make those statements in a place where there can be discussion.  He doesn’t share necessary information with the entire Region One Board.  He shares much board information with a local Kent blogger, and he limits public statements to three minutes.  Neither he, nor anyone else, responds to public comment.
—The local board chairpersons (the All Boards Committe) need to see that their effort to rush to renegotiate administrator contracts last spring, despite strong public protest, was an egregious error.  Hopefully after the November elections, there will be some new chairpersons.
—Finally, the effort by five First Selectmen, pushed for before the fifth vote, seems to have fizzled.  None of them were at the last board meeting, and it appears they have lost interest in the process.
School will continue, bills will be paid, and students will learn.  But it is important, in order to ensure that a change in leadership will come soon, to keep voting NO on September 17, from 12-8 pm.
Ed Epstein,

Where are the transcripts for last years Seniors at Housatonic? Powerschool failure or administration failure? 3

Where are the transcripts for last years Seniors at Housatonic?

Once again yesterday, three emails to telling us that they are awaiting transcripts from the high school. Can this really be possible? These documents are one of the most important for graduates, not to have them three months after graduation is shameful. Who is responsible? What is the problem? Is it Powerschool or is the the lack of leadership in the administration?

Can anyone enlightendownload (1) us?