Sunday, May 2, 2010

Superintendent steps up to the plate

Guest editorial by Carl Johansen

Dr. Johnson has agreed to not take an increase in her salary for the up and coming school year. This will make her second year in a row without an increase in her basic wage package. This counteracts what others have been eluding to in regards to her yearly salary wage package. That for me is a true sign of a leader that gets the ramifications we are all facing here in Sandwich during these hard economic times. Two years in a row with an zero increase does, without question, show a person who also cares about what each and every one of us is feeling here in Sandwich.

No wonder the representative from the union has been attacking all the good things being conducted in the Sandwich School District. Many long hours have been spent by Dr. Johnson to make every attempt at utilizing the resources she was instructed to work under and that is no easy task, given all the pressures from the union representative I keep hearing as she speaks during the School Committee meetings.

I acknowledge that mistakes were made, but as I had indicated many times one will always make errors, but the good leaders will only do it once.

This is one reason I will support the candidates that want to serve the whole community and not have one master.

Thank you Dr. Johnson for doing the right thing for the community of Sandwich. We will be in a better place for that I am sure.

Now if only the representatives for the remaining folks follow suit, we all could be in a better place into the future.

Carl Johansen
A concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich


  1. Taking a zero at $152,500 with the ability to trade in unused vacation days to the tune of an additional $10,000 is a heck of a lot easier than a $45,000 a year employee taking a zero.

  2. Bud Dunham is a leader because Bud Dunham was the first, and, within a very short time had followers. You can't lead unless you have followers. You can't lead unless you can influence others. You can't lead if someone says "he stepped up to the plate", you can only lead if others can see your vision and understand you. For shame to anyone else who thinks there is another leader of the 0% movement in town.

  3. Mr. Johanson,

    I do not think you understand what the Dr. Johnson has done. She has fired good people or pushed them out (power), She has delgated responsibilities to people who do not have the time to do the work (power), she got rid of people who worked speical ed and did so without giving a heads up to the school committee (power and the first time it happened, she has called for a ban on peanuts without notifying the school commitee first (power and the second time it happened, she made many awful presentations-the worst was at a finance meeting showing her little slide show without substance (too little knowledge of her job). When parents do not get emails or phone calls returned, there is something terribly wrong. When the school committee has to go on ad nausium about what a great job she is doing, there is something wrong. I believe she knows how to educate children, but does not know how to work effectively with employees, school committee members, parents, and citizens.

    A Concerned Parent of the Great School sytem on Sandwich.

  4. I second the post from "Concerned Parent of the Great School system on Sandwich." Many taxpayers/townspeople don't know what's really going on in the school district.

  5. I appreciate that Mr. Johanson views schools from a particular vantage point: schools are a social service that he doesn't use and cost him money. It's more money than he likes, so as long as someone spends less they are showing "leadership". From that perspective, it is easy to evaluate how the Super is doing. She seems to be holding a fiscal line and has tense relations with the union. Which likely feels good to outsiders who see the union as just a group of people trying to enrich themselves.
    But that how analysis leaves out two essential pieces that people from this vantage point can't and don't care to comment on: how is this effecting the quality of education in Sandwich and what is the health of the school system as an organization.
    I hope that as a community we don't lose track of the value of these other two pieces.

  6. I agree with the last post. Just wait until you see the mess Dr. Johnson creates with this special ed thing at the YMCA camp. She is going to educate these students with 10% to .5% of the money. Do you buy that??

  7. Is there anyone out there that believes that Dr. Johnson is a leader. I thought leaders had followers; by the looks of this blog, Dr. Johnson does not have much of a following. Mr. Johansen, I realize you are a good man and a great watchdog of money, but your barking up the wrong tree to support Dr. Johnson. I know she has the same vision as you do, just cut, but the problem is it hurts the kids. Wait 'til you see the disaster in the Y program, the follow-out will be heard on Channels 3,4,5,7,25 and 56. I can't imagine paying $150,000 to send a kid somewhere and then take them out, put them in the Sandwich Program at a cost of a few thousand. Absoutely does not make sense. No leader would do this to kids.

  8. Where's Mr. Johansen, in an underground bunker?

  9. Can someone tell me please, why is the Y program a bad thing? What I've heard so far boils down to "it costs a lot less, so it can't be good enough." There must be more to the objections than that?

    I have no experience with special ed and would like to be more informed.

  10. The Y thing seems to be a good program. We can simply take X amount of children that we send to other places in the SPED program and bring them here for much less money. Some of the people who were asked to attend a meeting on the program had children who were being sent out of district for amounts of money in the tens of thousands and even more. Some of the programs have been in existance for decades and the schools have a great reputations. Maybe it is a good thing, but why has Dr. Johnson not being asked how she can deliver the same program for so much less. Someone needs to get into what she is doing in much more detail. If we, as a town, spend so much less than what could be provided by the out of district programs, we need to ask why. We are not talking about saving $20,000 or $50,000, but hundreds of thousands of dollars. Something to me does not add up.

    Braless 32A

  11. At some point doesn’t someone have to ask how, when and why all these Sandwich “special ed” children got placed in private, for profit schools on the tax payer’s dime? Why can’t I get the Sandwich taxpayer to send my “regular ed” kid to Tabor or Stang? Why does my Jr. have to go Sandwich High? I am very sympathetic to parents with Special needs children but come on………how and why did all these kids end up in schools other than the one’s us taxpayers built and staffed? We’re spending $85, 000, $100,0000, even 200,000 per kid to send these children off Cape and to private on Cape schools all while firing our school staff, increasing class sizes and deferring much needed maintenance on buildings.

  12. To anonymous who wonders why Sandwich can not send his kids to Tabor, but can send SPED children to expensive schools. There is one simple answer; its the law that we have to educate the kids with special needs. Perhaps we are now getting to the crux of the problem. Why, if the great General Court deems it necessary to educate the children with special needs and then mandates it to the cities and towns, do they not fund the program. In some cases, people move to towns with better programs just to get their children the best possible education; it is something I would do, and I do not blame them for it, but when they do it, they cost the town money. What a novel idea it would be to simply make the state pay for it. Maybe the state should lay off some of the people they have on the payroll, maybe they should drive Fords instead of Cadilacs, maybe they should set up a true system to root out welfare fraud, maybe they should vote to allow municipalities to be able to "offer" a program of health plans instead of having unions rule the roost on what will be offered, maybe non-document crimaliens should not get a better shake than documented and natural born citizens, maybe they should think of the people of Massachusetts, maybe they should make themselves more accountable and so on and so on. Special needs is the law. and one in my opinion that is a good one, except that it should be funded by the state. I agree with Braless 32A that we should find out if Dr. Johnson is on to something with this Y program or whether it is just smoke, mirrors, and eventual failure. "Leaders" would ask in depth questions, no leaders would not. Getting to the bottom of this program would be an excercise the leaders from the non-leaders. Once the "leaders" have done that, they can look into other items such as how many vehicles does the town own, how many of them go home, if so, why; why do some employees get a late start once a week as a matter of policy; why do we need so many SUVs, why don't we enforce laws we put on the books (signs, docks on ponds, why televisions are needed when employees work overtime, why the fire department does not have a night shift that doesn't have to sleep to get paid, why we only have one cruiser per sector, but see two of them frequently together at one location talking to each other; I could go on and on and on. True leaders, in my opinion would dig deeper into programs and would push back to the Great and General Court.

  13. I am not sure that the courts have said that special ed children have a legal right to a private school education regardless of costs.
    I think the courts have said that there is a right to an education.
    The question is: Why has Sandwich decided to send its special ed students to expensive institutions for services instead of trying to provide services in our schools?
    The fight that will result from Dr. Johnson’s initiative will come from special ed parents whose children are being removed from what are perceived to be far superior facilities to what our schools will or can offer.
    As the previous poster suggested somewhat tongue-in-cheek, its not unlike comparing a desire for a Tabor education to a Sandwich High education.
    Today, on average, the Sandwich schools per pupil spending is X for regular ed and almost 4 times X for special ed. And, as Ms. Linehan likes to say: thats not sustainable.

  14. To my knowledge the courts have not ruled that the special ed kids have a right to private school, but there is in place a process by which parents of those children, the school, parents' lawyer and an advovate come to some understanding about where the child should be placed. It is actually the school system that must agree to the placement. That being said, the school system must provide access to education and somehow that access is determined by the school system and the parents with pressure from the parents' attorney and advocate.
    Why do we have to pay for it? Because the state says we should. If we make a local alternative an option, my question is how can the town do it for hundreds of thousands less than the private school. If the answer is given to me, I might be all for it, but the school board MUST ask the tough questions about the program.

    If I am wrong about the process, please let me know. You never hear it from the school committee and I have not children in the schools.

  15. Good afternoon Mr. Hunt. If one read some of the above posts it would seem that we have some folks who have no understanding of the vast problems the Sandwich School district has faced over many years due to unfundaded mandates. One area in particular is the special needs program where students were placed into a situation of being enrolled as special needs just to obtain more funding from the Chapter 70 program.

    Has any one ever asked the question why does Sandwich have such a high enrollement of special needs children?
    The present Superintendant did and brought about changes that reduced some staff, but improved the life of those children that really need the special help in a more advantagous surroundings.
    What about those folks who were given a contract just to bring there own child back and forth and then refused to piggy back another child to the same location, another cost was generated to have two students going to the same location, being transported by two bodies.

    We are not talking about chicken feed transportation costs folks.

    When the district made the choice to reduce the numbers of special need children in the system and take a more proactive action in providing good local educational experience for these children it was a step towards progress and a better way to utilize the resources we have available locally.

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen in the great Town of Sandwich

  16. Once again Mr. Johansen, you don't get it. These people know that there are problems, but may not know why; perhaps they are not retired and do not have the time to get to problems, answers and solutions. You have done better with these people to have left out the first sentance of your post. I am sure you don't like mine.

    I do not know everything, but one thing I do know and that is that school committe members Susko, Killion, and Cahill don't get it. They must look into the problems and DISCUSS them at meetings. They should have a true back and forth with the superintendent to get to the bottom of the problems by questioning her and making her earn her pay as a leader by satisfying the committee and the public about concerns. The ramrod approach taken by last year's committee was one of our biggest problems. I believe it will get worse, not because of the majority, but the minority, the same minority that thinks that our freedom to bring peanut butter to school is more important than the life of a child, that accusing another member of not knowing open meeting law and sounding as if she did herself only to find a week later she was wrong. These sort of things divide us. The purpose of the school committee is to always put the child first. Every member, whether in the majority or minority should be heard and not questioned. I thought that last year the chairman beat up Marshall and Linehan quite badly by always answering questions posed to the superintendent. I don't think they ever questioned any of her decisions. Hopefully the rubber stamp is gone. I think you should run for office if you have answers or even ideas. See you next week.

  17. Good Day Mr. Hunt it is obvious to me that some folks still do not understand the role of the Superintendent or the school committee. The role of Superintendent is to maximize the amount of money she is given to operate the school budget and obtain the best education to the children of Sandwich that is possible under the amount of money she is budgeted to work under.
    Now if one looks at the goal of the Superintedent from the eyes of the present union representative it has nothing to do with educating our children , but more about saving teacher positions that through consoladation have proven to work more affectively. The present Superintendent is holding the teachers accountable for the the lack of action or committment to the children, rather then placing all of her efforts to please the union representative who's only goal is about supporting in some cases many teachers that are not up to present day teaching methods, because of a lack over many years in not being part of further training that is more advanced then what in some cases, they can comprehend.
    This continued stagnet approach to having teachers teach new subject matter that lack the insite on how to do the job in an effective manner
    for the benifit of the child is a long overdue process that Dr Johnson is changing for the better.

    To believe the false inputs from the union represenative that is nothing short of malignant rumors in my opinion. These folks need to be accountable for this approach to discredit some one whom has placed a great deal of effort into assuring the child is the benifactor of the learning process and not the union.

    When you hear folks state that a percent of the teachers polled for example did not approve on how Dr. Johnson performed her job they never
    to give the number of those they polled.
    Why do suppose this done this way, In my opinion with numbers and percentages the truth is hidden by not indicating what the percent numbers really translate into. How many teachers for example are not part of the union would be nice to know and then from the remaining union teachers what number actually took the poll would be provide an accurate total and not some figure that has no transparency to it at all, except to corrupt the rumors they are spreading about her.

    The Sandwich citizens need to have a more honest and transparent reporting system from the teachers union if we are to believe every false utterance from them. You can fool some of the citizens part of the time, but you will not fool all of us most of the time.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen in the wonderful town of Sandwich Mass

  18. Mr. Johanson,

    Thank you for your input. I guess it never ocurred to me that the job of the superinendent was to educate children by getting as much money as possible. I thought it was to educate them efficiently. Now I can re-adjust my thoughts.

    You say the teachers union is accountalbe, but I did not vote for the teachers union, I voted for those who were the check on Miss Johnson. You would do the town a better service by focusing on what she does and why she does it. I think she has done much good, but I also think she does what she wants and is rubber stamped. You would have to be quite dumb to not see that many educators left because of her. I guess that they were lazy good for nothings because Miss Johnson never really let the public know why. She has the upper hand. Every time that someone asks why or what led to something, she sights privleged personnel information. She could not tell us when one educator left whether he was fired, left under duress, or simply quit. Why? Do I as a citizen not have that right? I am not as smart and all knowing as you, so I can not determine whether she is doing the right thing. She still has not told me, and I have asked, what it is that allows her to have a program at the YMCA camp that is hundres of thousands, if not millions of dollars less than programs out of district. Maybe, if she were a leader, she would explain. She has NEVER responded to an email. Don't tell me she is too busy. You seem to know a lot about leadership, why don't you run, you don't do anyone any good writing as if you knew everything. Miss Johnson, in my opinion, is a good educator who lacks leadership abilities, the ability to lead. She can not lead her own troops. I believe she could learn to do so, but as it stands now, she is not doing it. This YMCA fiasco is a real mess that no one can see coming. If the school committee rubber stamps it, it could cost childrens much money. If you have the answer or access to her, then please tell me what it is that she can do with millions less than the other schools. Do I have a legitimate concern or not? Am I all wet? Has anyone asked her? I think not.

    As for the unions, it seems to me that the people who are railing against the union are political conservatives and Republicans--you, Simmons, Killion, Cahill for the most part. Susko is a leftist, but she follows the majority most of the time. Did you, the expert on leadership ever ask the union why they don't like Miss Johnson's methods? If you did, please give us the answer. We the people, need answers. We will support Miss Johnson if she shows leadership qualities and answers our questins instead of going after money without answers. She must stop the steamroller. I was willing to give her a chance, but am now having second thoughts.

    Just to be clear, I am not a leader, and I assure you that you are not either or you would run for office instead of being a gadfly who sometimes does not get it. In this case you don't.

  19. I would venture to say that Dr. Johnson shall have the last laugh in September thanks to the inability of a chairman to check the clock and the rules. This was the core reason for the failure to keep Dr. Johnson here. That being said, for Sandwich to rid itself of her would be worth at least the $165,000 that will be given to the SEIC.

  20. I am not going to laugh. So far, 165K to SEIC, 150K to Johnson, 20 million for safety, and on and on.....; when does it stop?

    1. Karl Joe,

      It will never end. Unfortunately all we hear is did we follow our process. Content is not relevant. I care less to see the selectmen check a box of what they are supposedly accomplishing by discussion, but rather how they are proceeding with the action of getting things accomplished.

  21. Carl, your articulation is so well understood. It is what I meant to say, but could not put as succinctly as you have done.

  22. Hey, how about those selectmen. They don't want to go for a grant so that they can get more firefighters for two years! Maybe they could run extra firefighters on each shift and when at least one of the firefighter call in sick or take the day off, we could run with less men and still have the same number on shift as we do now.


  23. Its time for the selectmen to let the people speak. They give a back and forth to out of town property owners, but they fail to let us have a back and forth at their meetings. Am I wrong.

  24. ;lasjkdf;laksjdf;laskdjfAugust 21, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    I am trying to get my child into another of the Town's elementary schools. It seems that there is no room for the child, but there is apparently room for a kid from another Town. What is wrong with this picture, huh?

  25. Why does one Selectmen pick on one miscreant who puts signs on public property. Are there not many many more that do the same. Why not name them in public?


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