A View from the Country
By Al Holman, Publisher
September 17, 2010
It looks like we are a short time away from finding out whether we are going to have a joint town meeting or not. It seems that the school committee is just about ready to decide (based on the outcome of the town meeting in Mendon on Monday) whether or not they are going forward with the joint town meeting. [back]
It seems to me that if they go forward with a joint town meeting, it will not happen until maybe mid-November. Oh boy, it will be very cold and it will have to be in large part outside seating (2 to 3 thousand people inside and 5 to 6 thousand seats outside). Now, I have not talked about the $35,000.00 to $45,00.00 in cost to hold a joint town meeting, and I am sure that those numbers are at the low end. I am assuming that the three boards can come to an agreement on time, place, proctors, fire, police and which town clerk will be recorder of record, not to mention several other issues. If I was to take a guess, by the time all the smoke clears if it goes forward it will not be done until after Christmas. If this is a good gues, by the time the money becomes available the school year will be half over and the money will just go to supplies and other non-personnel expenditures. So the only result in this drill will be the lone process of dragging this issue around and letting it become emotional with no possible solution over the long haul or recommendation of a long-term solution.
When I was in school my professor in one of my engineering classes used to say "Let's all step back a few steps and look at this in the cold light of day". I think that it is time to do that very thing. No matter what we do in the next few weeks it will have no impact on the real problem that we will face next year and the years that follow. We have to put together a plan that will take us out of this constant need for overrides. We need to have a system reset. I mean, we need to do what the towns have done over the last couple of years and freeze all wages. Then we need to put in place a contract that rewards performance and performance only. Further, like in a city in California, we need to measure the performance of each student relative to each teacher and reward those teachers whose students show measurable improvement. This would reward performance at the point where it counts - at the student. We need to reward the excellent teachers, demand improvement in the average and replacement of the sub-par. This may sound cold, but we are running out of time to fix this major crisis in our future - our young and their education.
And that's looking out my window - waiting for the plan to fix the long-term problem. not the fix to the short-term symptoms.