Townsend official: We understand Pepperell's frustration - Sentinel & Enterprise

There are 20 comments on the Jan 8, 2011, Sentinel & Enterprise story titled Townsend official: We understand Pepperell's frustration - Sentinel & Enterprise. In it, Sentinel & Enterprise reports that:

Pepperell may be interested in withdrawing from the North Middlesex Regional School District, but the other two towns do not share that sentiment, according to Townsend and Ashby officials.

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Blogenburgian

Clinton, MA

#1 Jan 8, 2011
Nice to see Lunenburg involved in this, lead by the most inept educational and financial anaylsts to ever come down the pipe.
All Shook Up

Merrimack, NH

#2 Jan 8, 2011
Hey, Here's a radical thought:

IF the school district's per-pupil education cost is one of the lowest in the state, why would anyone complain about the budget?

Seems like there ought to be praise for all associated with operating the schools.
nit wit

Pepperell, MA

#3 Jan 8, 2011
All Shook Up wrote:
Hey, Here's a radical thought:
IF the school district's per-pupil education cost is one of the lowest in the state, why would anyone complain about the budget?
Seems like there ought to be praise for all associated with operating the schools.
no,no,no... it's the MCAS scores that are low. true per-pupil cost are high. Lillian is still reading from the script given to her in the 1980's.
quagmire

Westminster, MA

#4 Jan 8, 2011
Pepperell should join up with Acton/Boxboro and maybe see what a true high cost school system is. Bunch of whiners.
wake up to reality

Pepperell, MA

#5 Jan 8, 2011
All Shook Up wrote:
Hey, Here's a radical thought:
IF the school district's per-pupil education cost is one of the lowest in the state, why would anyone complain about the budget?
Seems like there ought to be praise for all associated with operating the schools.
"It's general frustration about the overall cost of education."

Many Pepperell residents' real objection is NOT the overall cost of education or the bottom line of the budget. IT'S HOW MONEY IS ALLOCATED IN THIS DISTRICT. People could support a school district which produces RESULTS and improvements in education quality.

When the budget was presented at Pepperell Town Meeting this year, those residents who approved the budget did so because it was level-funded. There was a preoccupation with the bottom line, and, as long as there was no necessity of an override, residents (blindly) approved it. HOWEVER, note that NOTHING was presented by the superintendent (who, interestingly enough, never even stepped to the microphone to defend the budget...the Chair was sent to defend it, with NOTHING in hand--no itemization, no report, zilch, zero, nothing...an insult to town residents).

Those who opposed the budget protested that there was no detail, no itemization of how money would be allocated within the school budget. And, therein lies the problem...this superintendent and her select group of school committee sycophants, has been free to spend taxpayer funds, as she sees fit. Note the bloated central office staff (most of whom have been brought over from Quabbin) with the exorbitant salaries and other perks. And, keep paying the contracted increases, because they're in the contracts, NOT because they've been earned by performance. Count how many central office staff members make over $100K plus benefits. This district cannot support this expense. There's a heavy emphasis on taking care of cronies in NM and little left "for the children."

There is no reason why this district cannot evidence better academic performance. Contrary to the chair's statement, student performance has little to do with demographics, and a whole lot to do with competent and inspiring district management...both are severely lacking in NM. Residents can count on not seeing significant improvement until this supt. and her cronies are sent packing.

Until then, watch for public budget hearings filled with threats of fewer teachers and cuts to the well-renowned music program and world language (AGAIN). It's all about how our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent wrecklessly.
shake up

Pepperell, MA

#6 Jan 8, 2011
How many years does the special ed. dept. need to be placed on probation by the state for poor student performance and failure to meet students' needs in NMRSD? This dept. needs a shake up--a review and replacement of key people in the dept. Enough is enough.

Why does the supt. and the school committee members continue to sit on their hands and spin a web of endless BIG IDEAS..a 13 month+ study of merging with Lunenburg, an effort to bring in Mason, NH students, a pursuit to bring Expanded Learning Time and International Baccalaureate to the district, closing schools and then doing the research to realize they CAN'T be closed, etc., etc. Getting the picture yet? Looks like someone is trying to show that they're very busy...it's great until people start asking for results and then noting that the person's being paid close to $200K for just keeping "busy."
if only

Pepperell, MA

#7 Jan 8, 2011
quagmire wrote:
Pepperell should join up with Acton/Boxboro and maybe see what a true high cost school system is. Bunch of whiners.
If only the NMRSD could yield comparable student performance or dynamic district leadership, you wouldn't hear the complaints of Pepperell residents. Not many Ashby and Townsend residents--not counting sc representatives--actually show up at school committee meetings to question what's going on. With Pepperell proportionally funding most of the budget, residents definitely have something to b*tch about when the supt ensures she and her cronies get their contracted increases, while she's simultaneously recommending cutting student programs. But, as she's been known to say, "that's what you're stuck with" and she's "not going to apologize for that."
crocker

Sarasota, FL

#8 Jan 8, 2011
Nmrsd is top heavy in administration at all levels.
And, yes, the per pupil expenditure is one of the lowest in the state, so is the average teacher salary, and so are the test scores. HMMMMMMMMMMMM I think I see a connection. Pepperell should go it alone; the end results would be better than the present poor quality of this district.
lack of leadership

Pepperell, MA

#9 Jan 8, 2011
crocker wrote:
Nmrsd is top heavy in administration at all levels.
And, yes, the per pupil expenditure is one of the lowest in the state, so is the average teacher salary, and so are the test scores. HMMMMMMMMMMMM I think I see a connection. Pepperell should go it alone; the end results would be better than the present poor quality of this district.
As with any school district, there are some truly exceptional teachers and a few who aren't making the grade (the latter is the exception to the rule, based on experience). I'd rather reward the exceptional teachers with merit-based compensation, quite frankly, but the emphasis from district "leadership" seems to be on stacking the central office with more and more personnel, paid ridiculously inflated salaries, starting with the "head honcho" Marshall. I know plenty of families who'd rather pay for one outstanding full-time superintendent, rather than multiple other staff at central office, who, by their mere existence, are enabling Marshall to work part time in TWO districts.

There have been some inconsistencies in the curriculum covered by teachers in given classrooms, and, this could account for variances in student performance. However, if there was a clear voice of leadership and definitive direction at the helm, these inconsistencies wouldn't continue. There's no accountability re: student performance, because most of the sc members just reiterate what they've been told by the superintendent. Watch how many offer a different point of view at any meeting. It's a joke.
Blogenburgian

Clinton, MA

#10 Jan 9, 2011
lack of leadership wrote:
<quoted text>
As with any school district, there are some truly exceptional teachers and a few who aren't making the grade (the latter is the exception to the rule, based on experience). I'd rather reward the exceptional teachers with merit-based compensation, quite frankly, but the emphasis from district "leadership" seems to be on stacking the central office with more and more personnel, paid ridiculously inflated salaries, starting with the "head honcho" Marshall. I know plenty of families who'd rather pay for one outstanding full-time superintendent, rather than multiple other staff at central office, who, by their mere existence, are enabling Marshall to work part time in TWO districts.
There have been some inconsistencies in the curriculum covered by teachers in given classrooms, and, this could account for variances in student performance. However, if there was a clear voice of leadership and definitive direction at the helm, these inconsistencies wouldn't continue. There's no accountability re: student performance, because most of the sc members just reiterate what they've been told by the superintendent. Watch how many offer a different point of view at any meeting. It's a joke.
Sounds a lot like LBurg. Take the crisis the teachers and parents are trying to vocalize, encourage the Principals to play spin doctor and the SC hears nothing but sunshine on a cloudy day at worst?

It's time for the state to kick in and put together some serious ground rules for education in our communities.
Another voice

Salem, MA

#11 Jan 10, 2011
Why don't they use MCAS to weed out the teachers that are having difficulty getting the subject matter across. Should be able to tell who they are from how the students do on the test and looking back to who had whom for a teacher.
And part time is not working for us in the Superintendent category. Ever notice snow days are identical to Quabbin's even though they have a totally different storm path most of the time?
See what this town meeting brings.
Pepperell is right and I think we should all go our own way. People don't complain to Selectmen enough about what is going on. Call your Town Administrators and hope the word gets passed. Good luck with that too.
watch u language

Pepperell, MA

#12 Jan 10, 2011
Another voice wrote:
Why don't they use MCAS to weed out the teachers that are having difficulty getting the subject matter across. Should be able to tell who they are from how the students do on the test and looking back to who had whom for a teacher.
And part time is not working for us in the Superintendent category. Ever notice snow days are identical to Quabbin's even though they have a totally different storm path most of the time?
See what this town meeting brings.
Pepperell is right and I think we should all go our own way. People don't complain to Selectmen enough about what is going on. Call your Town Administrators and hope the word gets passed. Good luck with that too.
Ooooooooo, you swore a nasty! You said, "MCAS". You're not supposed to bring that up.

Town meetings are a joke. Why bother complaining to Pepperell Selectmen about anything?
good points

Pepperell, MA

#13 Jan 10, 2011
Another voice wrote:
Why don't they use MCAS to weed out the teachers that are having difficulty getting the subject matter across. Should be able to tell who they are from how the students do on the test and looking back to who had whom for a teacher.
And part time is not working for us in the Superintendent category. Ever notice snow days are identical to Quabbin's even though they have a totally different storm path most of the time?
See what this town meeting brings.
Pepperell is right and I think we should all go our own way. People don't complain to Selectmen enough about what is going on. Call your Town Administrators and hope the word gets passed. Good luck with that too.
Now that that the governor has bought into scrapping MCAS in exchange for a one-time stimulus payout and whatever the national core standards test will look like (and most suspect it will be a less rigorous instrument for evaluation), one might expect this will enable more educators to meet a minimum-performance grade. We also need to do away with tenure and implement a merit-based compensation plan--that's part of the bigger picture.

Your point about snow days and Quabbin and NM closings is spot on--worth reiterating to many residents who aren't noting the odd "coincidence." Quite frankly, the superintendent has been able to get away with working two districts on a part time basis because: a) she wasn't putting in full time effort to begin with; and/or b) she has hired enough people in central office to cover for her. Regardless, the current supt appears inept when it comes to fiscal matters, whether her actions are well-intended or not.

In the end, the school committee bears significant responsibility for not holding her accountable for lackluster student performance. Instead, most sc members have enthusiastically endorsed every exploration of a project or idea which has done little to nothing to affect a positive difference in the quality of education in the district. Just wait and see what she proposes to cut in the school budget with the endorsement of her sc sycophants. One hint: it won't be central office administration nor their compensation.
Pro ed mom

Pepperell, MA

#14 Jan 10, 2011
You people would complain no matter what. If Quabbin and North Middlesex had different snow days you'd complain about that too and say one was getting favorable treatment or some students were getting short changed. Our school committee knows that we have a good thing going here. That's why they were elected.(sorry to have to remind you of that!)
works for the supt

Pepperell, MA

#15 Jan 10, 2011
Pro ed mom wrote:
You people would complain no matter what. If Quabbin and North Middlesex had different snow days you'd complain about that too and say one was getting favorable treatment or some students were getting short changed. Our school committee knows that we have a good thing going here. That's why they were elected.(sorry to have to remind you of that!)
I seen you post here before. Someone posted your name as Connie. You work for the district and were hired by the supt. Its hard to be objective when you work for the supt isn't it Connie? How much of our tax dollars you getting paid to post on behalf of the supt and her comittee? I want my $$$ back.
NMSD Quabbin

Pepperell, MA

#16 Jan 10, 2011
Another voice wrote:
Why don't they use MCAS to weed out the teachers that are having difficulty getting the subject matter across. Should be able to tell who they are from how the students do on the test and looking back to who had whom for a teacher.
And part time is not working for us in the Superintendent category. Ever notice snow days are identical to Quabbin's even though they have a totally different storm path most of the time?
See what this town meeting brings.
Pepperell is right and I think we should all go our own way. People don't complain to Selectmen enough about what is going on. Call your Town Administrators and hope the word gets passed. Good luck with that too.
Everything is more and more like Quabbin. It makes it easier for the good doctor to try and manage two districts.
teacher salary

Pepperell, MA

#17 Jan 10, 2011
crocker wrote:
Nmrsd is top heavy in administration at all levels.
And, yes, the per pupil expenditure is one of the lowest in the state, so is the average teacher salary, and so are the test scores. HMMMMMMMMMMMM I think I see a connection. Pepperell should go it alone; the end results would be better than the present poor quality of this district.
Just for the record, the pay scale and step raises have greatly improved for the teachers and their salaries are competitive with other towns.
crocker

Sarasota, FL

#18 Jan 12, 2011
teacher salary wrote:
<quoted text>Just for the record, the pay scale and step raises have greatly improved for the teachers and their salaries are competitive with other towns.
Not so! NMRSD has one of the lowest pay scales in the state. People are attracted to jobs that pay well and provide good benefits. If I were a teacher, I would not place NM on my list of top ten schools to get a job. Teaching environment is also important-I suggest you take a stroll through the high school-bad karma.
Check the AP scores-not a good indicator of sound teacher performance in some departments, and yet the low scores do not seem to enact a change in dept. head or the teachers teaching.NMSD is too big, poorly run and Pepperell would do better to go it alone.
a crock full

Pepperell, MA

#19 Jan 12, 2011
crocker wrote:
<quoted text>
Not so! NMRSD has one of the lowest pay scales in the state. People are attracted to jobs that pay well and provide good benefits. If I were a teacher, I would not place NM on my list of top ten schools to get a job. Teaching environment is also important-I suggest you take a stroll through the high school-bad karma.
Check the AP scores-not a good indicator of sound teacher performance in some departments, and yet the low scores do not seem to enact a change in dept. head or the teachers teaching.NMSD is too big, poorly run and Pepperell would do better to go it alone.
Crocker, Crocker...no need to shoot the **** around here and see if it sticks. People here know the truth and do their research. Teachers in NM fare well in compensation, relative to surrounding districts. In fact, they saw a significant improvement in compensation between 2007 and 2009. Let's be realistic...all things being equal (and let's keep in mind the cost of living within the region), the compensation is fair (in fact, for central office administrators, it's outrageous!) The real problem in NM lies with the district leadership, which has the power yet (like the majority of the school committee) fails to utilize it to correct less than stellar performance. If the superintendent tells them (SC members) that the district is doing fine, then like the lemmings most of them are, they sit there and never question why the superintendent continues to compare them to mediocre districts when saying so.

As has been stated, there are students who perform well in the district and there are some (not all) exceptional teachers--just like any other district. The problem is the district leadership fails to raise the bar and bring everyone up to the same level of performance. It's not her focus (nor the Chairman's, who points to demographics). Her focus is on preserving her compensation and that of her Quabbin cronies. Let's all watch as she and her Finance Subcommittee Chair offer cuts to student programs--World Language and the renowned Music program, for starters--as a way to hold the budget bottom line, before the superint. leads by example and offers cuts to her central office staff and their compensation (as residents demanded last year and will demand AGAIN).

And, for those teachers who don't feel like they're getting a fair shake in NM or other districts (for that matter) I say---watch your back. There's a whole group of young, energetic, eager-to-impress college graduates, who will feel so lucky to find a job in education.

The high school does need improvement, but it will not happen under this supt. There's lost confidence in her "leadership" (in Pepperell at least)--ask taxpayers, not most of those on the school committee, who are in denial.
right on

Pepperell, MA

#20 Jan 12, 2011
teacher salary wrote:
<quoted text>Just for the record, the pay scale and step raises have greatly improved for the teachers and their salaries are competitive with other towns.
Right on. So the real problem lies with the absence of leadership in the central office and its ineptitude in setting fiscal priorities..."it's all about the kids," Maureen, and not about preserving your compensation (nor increasing it via a merger with Lunenburg!) nor that of your Quabbin buddies. Let's not forget to place most of the blame at the feet of most (not all) of the school committee members, who just reiterate what they've been spoon-fed by the superintendent.

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