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Parent Voices Concerns to School Board

Milford resident and Northborough School Administrator, Jennifer Parson, shared her concerns with the School Committee regarding their recent decision to eliminate two Curriculum Director positions as well as that of district Security Director.

Community concerns over the decision to eliminate the position of district Security Director, were voiced during the "Invitation to Speak" segment of the May 24 School Committee meeting. The invitation to speak portion of the meeting allows citizens to directly address the Board on matters of concern.

Introducing herself as a Milford resident and mother of two children in the school district, Jennifer Parson said, "a lot of people around town are ... looking to understand what has been transpiring," regarding the Board's 4-3 vote to eliminate the position held by David Cutler.

Parson added she is also an education administrator, principal at Lincoln Street Elementary School, Northborough.

Parson said, "I think that it's important the Committee and Superintendent and anyone else in this room understands [my] perspective and while it may be [mine], I'm guessing that there may be others who share similar thoughts."

Parson said she was "surprised to hear the news" adding "it is still unclear to me how this position came to be eliminated. While I understand that this position was part of a line item reduction ... I've not yet heard the rationale for the position's elimination."

"I've not heard any data regarding the position's effectiveness ... have not heard if teachers were interviewed to share their experience with this particular person or position ... have not heard if there has been an increase or decrease in district safety concerns since the implementation of this position, or if anyone took the time to gather that information," Parson said. Of equal concern, she noted, was the absence of "a solid plan for absorbing the work load associated with that position, other than ideas about hall monitors and video cameras."

Parson also referenced a media report, which alleged "the district is still responsible for two years worth of this individual's salary. If that's true, in fact it would be a completely unacceptable allocation of taxpayer funds."

When asked to speak to this particular point, several days after the meeting, Chairman Patrick Holland said, "Each administrative contract allows for termination for 'other good cause.' To collect the remainder of the contract litigation would be required by the former employee where it would be necessary to prove that 'other good cause' for termination did not exist. Restructuring and or budget reductions would very likely fall under the category of 'other good cause.'"

While Parson acknowledged that the responsibility for school safety is traditionally incorporated into the job description for school principals and can be implemented through their efforts along with assistant principals and guidance counselors, she noted, "based on the realities that we are now facing in our society, we simply aren't qualified to handle the complexities of some of these situations".

Moving from the subject of school safety, Parson also addressed the elimination of two Curriculum Director positions, which were also cut from the 2012-2013 budget. "Who's going to oversee the curriculum?" she wondered. "We have a new curriculum that needs to be adopted by 2014 [per state mandate] ... we have no Assistant Superintendent for curriculum, we have no Curriculum Directors and now, we have no safety oversight. As a parent, [I find this] incredibly concerning, especially if it's representative of how other important decisions are made at the School Committee level."

Parson end by saying "My purpose in addressing the committee is to urge you to quickly determine a process for examining and addressing the safety needs of our schools." She added the Committee needs "to find a way to reassure parents that the necessary research will be completed and that any further decisions will be based on data and will include the input of all invested parties. For the benefit of our students, I cannot emphasize enough how important it will be to resolve this situation in our school district."


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