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Who's Responsible? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pam Kinsmith   
Tuesday, 03 June 2008

With our schools in crisis, the school year coming to a close, and jobs in the balance, the school committee once again was unable to keep its collective eye on the ball. "We are stalled," stated member Jennifer Mahar. "We can't continue to move at a snail's pace," interjects John Lunt. "We need to move things along," comments Mayor Forgey. Yes, yes and yes. This was all in response to discussion on a motion to remove Greg Aubin as chair of the committee. I would say those comments apply to everyone on the committee including Mr. Aubin and calls into question their collective and individual roles played in the debacle we are now in.

I share the frustration of many watching the drama unfold before us and have repeatedly called for the political maneuvering to be put aside so that the focus can be on the needs of our schools and the demands of the budgeting process.  The entire committee, all nine members, are responsible for the delays, lack of research, lack of analysis, lack of ideas and general ineffective job that has been done to land us in the dismal place we now find ourselves. Those who were on the committee prior to those currently at the table set this course as well and should also be held accountable for the role they played in getting us here. This nightmare didn't begin overnight nor will it end that quickly.

Why was it me who asked for more than a meeting a week to get the job done? I've been at most of the meetings and never heard any other members propose it.  How has the committee as a whole got out in front of the train wreck to get the data analysis completed, information shared and clear proposals analyzed?

Each school committee meeting shows me more how little the committee understands how the schools function, what impact their motions hold, and how the lack of understanding is impeding the process.  How many committee members have actually visited all the buildings they are making decisions about? Have they sat in on classroom lessons, experienced the work of behaviorists or have first hand knowledge of what a guidance counselor or special ed professional does?  The committee doesn't understand how curriculum is done or how to meet state mandates for special education and yet it thinks it can determine how many jobs each school should cut. That is the superintendent's job, someone who is qualified and understands educational need, not the committees. At least not this school committee.

Don't try and sell me that the chair is mastermind of all the problems in the school committee. Don't misunderstand me, the chair must own the responsibility for how his ability to facilitate has impacted the process. Each member should weigh if they have done all they could individually and collectively to be informed, communicate, solicit expertise, collaborate and be proactive throughout the entire process. Be careful in hanging that mantle on one person. Would there be a miracle transformation without Mr. Aubin as chair? I wonder. The committee in its entirety owe an answer to my questions and those of everyone else in the community.

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