Monday, October 6, 2014

Going Nowhere Fast?

At the Special Meeting of the School Committee, held on 9/16, the entire meeting was dedicated, yet again, to the results of the architecture consultants, SMMA and the results of the parent questionnaire, which I ranted about here.  I live-tweeted the meeting (@lizhmccarthy) for those of you on the Twitter.  Here are some observations from that meeting, as well as the regular meeting held on 9/17.

At the beginning of the special meeting, Mayor McCarthy asked the Committee Members if they had anything to say before the business part of the meeting began.  The first huggable moment of the Special Meeting came when John Frassica asked, "OK, so now what are we going to DO?"  Implying that there may actually be action taken.  I gave him a "huzzah!" from my home, where I was tweeting and folding laundry.

The Superintendent read the results of the parent questionnaire. I certainly hope that SC members had paper copy, because there were so many numbers being bandied about that I couldn't tweet fast enough to keep up.  Those numbers, which aren't included in the official minutes, were important enough to ask the principals to compile and yet unimportant enough to have a visual.  Sigh.  It also appeared that there was about a 25% completion rate of the questionnaires, which is actually higher than the voter turn-out for the Primary Election, which does not make it good.  Big sigh.  Do parents really NOT CARE about this?  Gah!

SMMA then showed more numbers, including the information that there were 251 fewer students enrolled in elementary schools this year compared to last.  Which leaves me wondering why the Fitzgerald has 516 students and is home to both LBRR and ELL programs.  Well?

The minutes are clear on the decisions that the SC Members made.  And I commend them for making actual decisions.  Another huggable moment came when Teddy Tarallo suggested that, if Pre-K is moved out of the elementary schools and to its own building, that would open the possibility of offering universal pre-K.  Woot!  And a second 'alternative' high school!  Yay!

After the dust settles, here is what we are left with:

  • Lots and lots of feasibility and usage studies at the Fernald and at the Fitch and Lawrence Schools
  • The land at the Fernald is part designated wetland, part hazardous asbestos site, and part power plant toxicity site
  • Modular buildings at the Stanley, Fitzgerald, and MacArthur; partitioned classrooms elsewhere
  • Redistricting
  • A Superintendent who is leaving at the end of this year
  • A Mayor who is running for re-election next year
All of which leaves me feeling more than a little uneasy.  How about you?