Saturday, June 19, 2010

There is a way out of this mess

It’s time to take some deep breaths, count to ten, and lower our collective blood pressure.

There is a way out of this mess if every school committee member is willing to swallow some pride and if our battered superintendent can see her way past the hurt she must be going through and realize that there is growth and success on the horizon.

First, let me preface my comments with a few facts.

1) I have no inside information on any of the contract negotiations between the school committee and superintendent.

2) I haven’t spoken with any of the school committee members or superintendent about my ideas.

3) I have turned around a number of operations in my business career which seemed hopeless at the outset.

4) Pride and agenda sometimes get in the way of doing what’s best (in this case, what’s best for the kids).

5) My sense of the dynamics between the school committees (before and after the election) is my opinion developed from observation and experience.

6) This is an opinion piece, the point of which is to lay out a road map for the school department to move forward in a constructive way. To the extent that my observations are not 100% factual, I apologize, but keep the forest in view, not the trees.

The root of the problem

The search for Dr. Nancy Young’s successor was handled poorly. Instead of hiring a professional recruiting firm to conduct the search and specify the steps of the interview process, we formed a committee consisting of interested citizens, a few school committee members, and a student that, for the most part, lacked any experience in recruiting an executive.

The “nationwide search” produced a favored finalist from Mashpee and two others to provide cover for selecting the next superintendent. Then a really upsetting thing happened. Two of the finalists dropped out of the running. By the way, Dr. Johnson was not in this group of three, having been voted off the island in an earlier round of cuts.

Time to regroup?

No. Wait. Let’s dump the entire process and just vote Dr. Johnson into the job. And let’s do it at a meeting where the agenda doesn’t even mention this discussion will take place. What could go wrong?

Here’s what. Circumventing the process “married” the yea voters to the new superintendent. These committee members were now incapable of maintaining the appropriate separation from the superintendent, for her failure would be their failure.

I know they would disagree with me on this, but I think the evidence bears me out. School committee members’ seemingly endless defenses of her in the newspapers, in front of the finance committee, and at their own meetings convinced me that they were following their wedding vows, for better or worse.

Superintendent’s shortcomings

Based on my experience in managerial positions, I don’t think Dr. Johnson was quite ready for this big job. That doesn’t have to be a job ender, however. She is really smart, clearly thinks out of the box, and understands the value of teacher training and introducing technology into the school system.

She, like Dr. Nancy Young before her, did not appreciate how political the job of superintendent is and how important it is to spend the time to develop strong relationships with parents, teachers, other school administrators, and the town manager and his crew.

One “insider” piece of information I was privy to was the frustration municipal department managers and subordinates experienced trying to get information from the superintendent and waiting for return calls that never came. This lack of communication was fueled by a school committee member who informed the new school business manager that the town manager was someone not to be trusted. (You know who you are.)

So is all of this insurmountable?

No.

Just as Dr. Johnson understands the benefits of teacher training, she surely would appreciate the benefits of management training. I went to school for two weeks before being allowed to manage other people when I was with KPMG. We called it “charm school” and, to an extent, that was an accurate moniker.

Has Dr. Johnson ever been to a concentrated, two-week management training school? If not, it’s completely unfair for her to be thrust into the top job of a $35-plus million organization. This is a much bigger job than I had after going to charm school.

The way out

Like I said before, Dr. Johnson is a very smart and capable person. I don’t for a minute believe that she has been “Peter Principled” out. She simply needs additional training and experience and a school committee that is free to supervise her as it should (and must).

The first step to recovering from the pickle we find ourselves in is up to Dr. Johnson. Is she willing to set aside the humiliation, disrespect and ugliness she has been subject to over the past several months and adopt the view that, as bad as it was, there is a positive and career-building outcome within reach?

If she is unwilling to do this, I wouldn’t blame her. It takes a special person to want to take another shot at success in these less-than-optimal circumstances.

The second step requires the school committee members to dial back the emotions and rhetoric and refocus on the reason the committee exists: To provide the best possible education for our children in a safe and learning-conducive environment.

Step three is another school committee meeting before the month is out (some of it in executive session under the contract negotiations exception) where the following course of action should be approved:

1) Extend the superintendent’s contract for six months (through December 31, 2011).

2) Send her to a high-level manager training school, preferably one of the two-week concentrated sessions offered by a premier school’s graduate program. (Costs money, but is a lot cheaper than a professionally-managed search.)

3) Set specific, measurable goals that she can reasonably attain, or show significant progress towards, by December 31, 2010.

4) Set a December date for another evaluation and vote to extend, or not to extend, her contract.

5) Start, in earnest, a search to hire a curriculum director and permanent special education director. (Hint: Dr. Johnson is drowning trying to keep all these balls in the air.)

This approach accomplishes a number of important objectives:

1) School committee members who are currently dissatisfied with the superintendent’s performance would give her a fair and reasonable shot at achieving goals they would want any superintendent to accomplish. So, unless these committee members simply dislike this superintendent, which may be irreparable, they should be satisfied with demonstrable improvement.

2) Continuity of management, particularly since we are missing a number of people in key positions, is hugely important in the fiscally trying times we’re in and expect to be in for the next several years. A lame duck superintendent is bad for everyone, especially the kids. (Keep the focus on the kids.)

3) It allows for some breathing room that we desperately need at this point. Going from where we are now straight into a new superintendent search is a recipe for disaster. Committee members are contemplating legal action against one another. How can you possibly do your job as a school committee when the infighting is on the rise?

We need a time out.

P.S. Forget the recall thing. Use your energy on something constructive.

54 comments:

  1. I think you're brilliant! The only issue you did not address was the fact that MEJ is surrounded by women in her immediate office. I can say this because I am a woman. It's not always easy -- women can be tough to work with. The criticisms that anti-MEJ SC members wouldn't discuss were directly from a few women that work directly for her in the Admin office. You know how gossip and petty attacks can spiral into a full time job -- it's no wonder alot does not get accomplished. That being said, if the SC agreed with your plan (doubtful) and MEJ agreed to the course of action (perhaps), how could ever work when the enemy is actually sitting outside her office door. Every misstep is reported, every word repeated. I love your idea and it could and should work. The only piece of the pie not in place would be reshuffling the deck out of the admin office. Lots of disgrunted women in an office is the reason I work from home. Again, I'm a woman, I can say that! Thanks for your plan, Randy. I truly wish the SC members could put down their pea-shooters and seriously consider it. It's looking like a long year!

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  2. If MEJ isn't already being eaten alive she certainly would be for attending a "Charm School." And to what end? The SC already has made its decision and changing that decision would mean admitting that they......that they.....that they were wrong perhaps? Concessions are a two way street. Although early into this game, decision reversals are very rare.

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  3. I think its time for the school committee and Dr. Johnson to discuss expectations. Expectations should be specific. Examples: works well with town officials, board, etc. etc. She does know how to meet expectations, and, as one who is critical of Dr. Johnson, I do respect her ability to do what is specifically asked. Maybe you are right. We do need her, but only if she is willing to make changes. In my humble opinion, she needs to get get out of this "my way or the h'way" mentality.

    The majority of the school committee needs to nurture her a bit more, gain her trust, helpher when she needs it. They must also get away from gameplaying.

    The minority has to get away from a constant nasty attitude and game playing.

    Self professed experts, like myself, need to shut up. I have come to the conclusion that I would rate Dr. Johnson as an F, but a strong enough F to know she can easily bring it to an A+. She is smart and sensitive. She must learn how to ask for help, listen to others, and let them down nicely when she must. She must learn not to go over people's head when it comes to fire codes, she must answer questions in much more detail without being offensive.

    The SEA should get the President to get the teachers to give in on money concessions, and, in return, start a good dialogue with Dr. Johnson. I have spoken with Dr. Johnson, and, although I do not like a lot of things she has done, I do like her as a person.

    Yes, Dr. Johnson did get the shaft, but much of it brought on by herself. She was not ready to step in a superintendent, but she has tried hard, and I feel will succeed if she justs listens, informs, and figures out how to answer calls. She is a capable woman who I would like to see stay, but only if she is willing to change as should the minority and majority change.

    In my opinion, all this garbage was created by one past chairman (not bob guerin) who was nothing but rude to the then minority and another who rocked the boat, made a sneakiy move to vote her in and then moved out of town. Let's stop threatening, let's stop understanding. Let's get her on board. She could be outstanding if we can all get behind her.

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  4. To the last poster, this all started long before the previous chair (though he seems to be your version of an anti-christ -- after all, someONE must be to blame). This all began at the inception of the "search committee", as Randy explained in good detail. Blaming anyone person seems futile, but typical Sandwich mentality! Re-read Randy's post. While I disagree strenuously with the SC's vote the other night, I still credit each individual, any individual, who is willing to dedicate so much of their personal time away from their families and careers, to help our town. They are all volunteers. Yes, they ran voluntarily, but is it any wonder that good, educated people would choose to never stick their hands into this hornets nest! The abuse, criticism and monday morning quarterbacking that goes on in our community is legendary. We all look like damn fools in the paper and on the radio. Let's stop all of the personal attacks and blame game and focus on our next step. Let's work to make it the right step. Randy certainly had some great suggestions as to how we might move forward. Attacking previous Superintendent's and/or former board members is non-productive and fruitless. Let's learn from our mistakes and do it right this time.

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  5. Randy,
    Please send your proposal to MEJ and the newspapers. Highlighing the fact that the SC cannot get along with each other is key. Who has a chance with a board like that? I also worry about the teachers who were motivated by the initiatives and her support. Perhaps they will just roll over to and associate themselves with the minimalists who don't support Dr. J. That would surely be easier for them! I get it, she has high expectations and is asking teachers to be accountable. No wonder so many are scared. Show us what you have that is better!

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  6. Wow!
    Randy, you have not only proposed a really thoughtful, non-dogmatic idea, you have completely changed the tone of discourse. Thank you so much...

    Your idea assumes that the School Committee as a whole, and the 4 who voted against Dr. Johnson specifically, believes that there is a mess. The 4 may feel they have accomplished exactly what they wanted, and may not be responsive to the community's concerns about a district without a leader facing future budget problems. I hope they are feeling some concern about their actions...and that they would respond to suggestions to fix the mess.

    Some additional thoughts -- wondering if the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education might have a person who could be a mediator of sorts. An impartial person might be able to help pinpoint the 4's specific concerns about Dr. Johnson's performance and create the sort of plan that Randy suggests.

    I wonder, too, if that organization might have the sort of Leadership Training that Randy suggests...and if the School Committee Association could also offer training to the SC members. Everyone benefits from Professional Development, and having everyone participate shows respect and a willingness to learn.

    I cannot speak for Dr. Johnson, and whether she would be interested in what Randy has suggested.

    But this is what I do know about her:

    Dr. Johnson really cares about educating kids, and is passionate about our district. She believes that we have excellent teachers and she is committed to continuous improvement for students and teachers. She also believes in continuous improvement for herself...

    She has been putting her heart and soul into making a very good district even better and her heart and soul are still with the students, families and teachers of Sandwich. As a previous poster said, she is sensitive and smart.

    I think Randy's idea can work, if the SC is willing.

    Thanks again,

    Maureen Wiklund

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  7. Another thought -

    Randy, would you consider sending your essay to the CCTimes to publish in the My View column, or asking for a spot in the Sandwich Enterprise? It would be great to have your proposal out there for a wider audience, including the School Committee members. You are an established leader in town, and people will pay attention to what you have to say - and hopefully will rise to the level of tone you have established while debating and responding to your proposal.

    Maureen

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  8. Maureen, I will offer a toned-down version of this blog post to John Paradise at the Enterprise. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You add a lot to this conversation in a very constructive way.

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  9. Great plan Randy! Sadly, these womens egos and pride will prevent a reversal of their votes. Shari finally has power and control back after 5 years of not having any power on the board.
    On many occasions in 4 years on the board, Shari was incapable of putting aside her personal feelings and interests groups, to do the right thing for the kids. Just the fact that Crossman and Kangas voted after less than a month of working with MEJ, common sense should have told them hey i need atleast 6 months to form my own opinion on the super.They obviously relied on what was fed to them by Shari and the status quo groups in town. MEJ is very smart and I wouldn't count on her sticking around for more abuse. Budget season will be a nightmare this year and they have no interest in working with MEJ now, nevermind thru budget season. She deserves to be treated like a human being and she has not been, Shari has showed total disrespect and has refused many times in answering MEJ reasonable question of why she so adamantly against her. Shari supports her programs but not her?
    When Shari gets cornered she just ignores and refuses to answer. Your not gonna change 20 years of behavior.

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  10. Good Morning Maureen being an advocate for Dr> Johnson for me has been very easy. I may not know all the issues she has had to face since she took on the job, but as a person who understands when some one puts in 150 percent to do the correct thing, it was an easy desision for me to make. each of us go through life and non of us are mistake proof. Randy does have some great ideas, but given [in my humble opinion] that all four who decided to vote no did not understand or care what she has managed to acomplish within the Sandwich school district.The many behind the scenes going on have in my opinion done a great disservice to every student and has affected the whole community of Sandwich. Dr. Johnson has a different leadership style that is more in tuned to all the students under her care,to get the best education she can manage to give them given the budget problems the school district is facing. That alone has been a very daunting task and any one that works in the business world knows full well the results of not doing a good job in managing the money. The public school districts have multiple business to deal with . unlike a business that produces a single product. Where in the real world can you find some that has enough skills to deal with multiple union issues, parental issues,children issues and teachers all at the same time. No where, but Dr Johnson has made the hourly sacrifices to accomplish just that personal goal. Her successes have shown the value of her due diligance to the job and yet we had the vote by four individuals, based upon secret phone calls, secret back door politics and many false informational gatherings to stop this women from doing the right thing for the children of our community.

    Keith put it best and his comments about we need her and she does not need us, is a great way to look at how more progressive the school district has advanced under her leadership abilities. Is she perfect, of course not, we all have some room for improvement and that is how we all learn to become better at what we do, but it takes some one to point that out in a positive and contructive manner.

    One thing for sure, is that Dr. Johnson places a very high degree of personal accountibilty on her self to improve on all she undertakes. This is where the union leadership in my opinion finds fault, because she expects no less from every teacher in our schools that are teaching the adults of tomorrow with ethical accountibility.

    Maureen as an old guy that has seen many hard and difficult times in my life experiences, I thank you for doing the right thing on behalf of Dr. Johnson as well as all the other innovative and progressive teachers that came forward to support a person who has made and will continue to do the right thing for the children of our school district.


    Randy an recall may not be the answer, but it sure would get more information out to the community as to why they voted the way they did and make them more accountable to the voters of Sandwich for the way they expounded upon the reasons they gave, did not even make common sense as my good friend Judge Judy would state and if it does not compute then we have some thing else going on beneath the surface that needs to be revealed.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich

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  11. WELL RANDY I SEE BY THE RECENT POSTING THAT YOUR PLAN AND OPINONS FALL ON DEAF EARS WHEN IT COMES FROM FORMER SC MEMBER. AFTER 5 YEARS OF BEING KEPT OUT OF THE GOOD OLD BOYS NETWORK. THIS PERSON HAS NO IDEA WHAT SHERRY IS ABOUT.NEVER ONCE TO SHE VOICE ANY NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT BEING KEPT OUT OF THE DARK ON SCHOOL CONCERNS AND IN FACT WHEN SHE WAS IN THE MINORITY SHE CONDUCTED HER SELF PROFESSIONALY UNLIKE OTHERS.TO BAD PERSONNEL VENDETTAS GET IN THE WAY OF MOVING FORWARD

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  12. Carl,

    Stop with the horse crap. Randy has a good idea and the last paragraph doesn't help. You do not do those of us who want Dr. Johnson to stay on any help.

    Dora Explorer

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  13. MAUREAN WHY NOT SEND IT TO THE SC AS WELL.IF EVERYONE IS TRYING TO GET EVERYONE ON BOARD WHY EXCLUDE THE SC

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  14. MR JOHANSEN PERHAPS A REVIEW OF SC MEETINGS IN THE PAST WOULD REVEAL DECISIONS MADE WITH NO DISCUSSIONS AT THE TABLE OR QUESTIONS ASKED WITH NO ANSWERS GIVEN OR RUDENESS AMONGST SC MEMBERS TO THE PUBLIC AND THEIR FELLOW SC MEMBERS.

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  15. Enlightening the public as to how Shari really works is my responsiblity as a parent of two children still in the Sandwich schools and working with Shari on the board for 4 years it became very clear who she is on the board for. 20 years on a school committee, gotta ask why, she's the guard protecting all the shell games that went on over the years with our school budget and the community school. Our board exposed it finally, but the residents really don't want change, they all want to protect the status quo, regardless of how it affects our children and teachers. They created a mess Wed. night and it's only gonna get messier with budget season and a super finding other employment. Was MEJ perfect no, but she has proven to be a dedicated educator who put in place great programs and motivated the great teachers. It's all gonna go with her now. They never wanted accountability, that's why Bradshaw was Shari's pick. We just put the brakes on that bag job. Sorry it wasn't all wrapped up perfectly but sometimes cutting thru b.s. is messy......We did what was right for the kids at the time......The few voters that showed up just voted in people that are not working for our kids. Obviously accountability is not a goal for our schools, maintaining the financial shell games to protect jobs is the priority again.

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  16. RANDY WHY 6 MONTH EXTENSION. WHY CAN SUPER IMPROVE WITH THE I YEAR SHE HAS LEFT. ARE YOU INDICATING THE 6MTHS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH NEW ELECTIONS FOR SC

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  17. We agree send it to Shari/SC Chair first and see what the reaction is. Let's hope we don't hear crickets. Sandwich schools and Dr. Johnson reputation have had more than enough defaming press so i think you should hold off putting another article in the papers regarding this mess. So, Dr. Johnson can find another job and get out of town.

    Why wasn't Marshall and Linehan's concerns put into the Dr. Johnson's evaluation just a month ago? MEJ met or exceeded in her evaluation and that was done in public. Many still want to hear some serious valid reasons why they voted the way they did. Nothing we've heard so far rises to the level of just cause in terminating, especially when your evaluation says she met or exceeded. We see lots of b.s. and this ain't passin the stink test again. What is their plan now?

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  18. To ALLS CAPS ANONYMOUS: The six month extension is necessary because the super's contract requires a 1-year notice for non-renewal. If you do nothing to extend the contract for 6 months (or 9 months or a year, you pick), then the super must spend a good deal of her time during the next year pursuing a job somewhere else. Or face the possibility of the unemployment line.

    So the purpose is to buy sufficient time to allow her to meet the SC's expectations without the distraction of looking for another job, and is not related to next year's spring elections.

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  19. I felt very hopeful after reading Randy's post and then some of the intelligent, positive and thoughtful posts following. But then I burst out laughing when I got to the hateful crap written by you know who.

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  20. Randy-

    "As long as there are no personally defamatory statements" you clearly state this but allow Trish Lubold to speak as she wish about Sherry Marshall. Don't you think what she says falls under the above?

    I know this won't get posted but I thought I would state this because she consistantly ends up trashing Sherry Marshall and I don't think it is appropriate!

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  21. I am confused as to why would the SC should extend a contract by 6 months for a public figure who people seem to think needs management school and "charm school?"

    I seem to think it will just give it time to have a new election, possibly getting some sort of a new vote.

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  22. "Enlightening the public as to how Shari really works is my responsiblity" this is a defamatory statement referencing her other negative remarks about Sherry Marshall

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  23. Let me see if I understand this correctly. This mess of an outcome is better than the hiring Bradshaw? Sound about right?

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  24. I just heard Shaun Cahill works for the Sheriff. Are not the DA's assistant gonna like what he has to say about their lawyers. Let's get back to basics. Vote the ins out and the outs in. Recall Susko first, then Cahill and Killion together. Then we will have a great bunch of new people to complement the outstanding work of Shari Marshall. The three pro-Johnson have ideas that are a blight on common sense.

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  25. I think everyone needs to think about what all the negative ranting is doing to the reputation of this town. When I moved here eight years ago, I "Googled" Sandwich and read all I could about the schools. It was an o.k. place then. Nothing fabulous, nothing terrible. The very slightly above state average test scores matched the demographic, but it seemed like a town with potential.

    There is more to a system than state scores for sure, but that was all there was to compare them with others. Now we have systemic, consistent models and programs that are supported by administrators. I suspect people who haven't lived many different places wouldn't appreciate how unique that is as much as I do.

    We have built in professional development provided by university trained in-house teachers. These teachers earn their regular salary. If you are outraged at the cost of out of district speakers, think about the long term cost saving impact that will have if we can keep those teachers in the district despite the disrespect some of our SC and SEA members have shown them.

    I was thinking about all of the energy project presentations and how we have to wait a few years to get the return on our investment. Our programs are bought and paid for. The stimulus grant paid for the college training and I wish that was made more public now.

    I worry that if the rug is pulled out, Everyday Math and the Literacy Collaborative will not reach full implementation allowing us that return on our investment. The same goes for technology. You will need to keep up the repairs and the training to sustain their effectiveness.

    There are already immediate, measurable differences and we have only just begun. The middle school and the highschool have not even had a taste of it yet.

    When MCAS scores come out, it will be interesting. People who know something about the change process know that there is typically a dip in scores the first year or two. I worry that if that is true, the nay-sayers will have the final nail to put in the coffin. That would be a shame since it is predictable that there will be a dip.

    But think about your property values over the last few years and moving forward. School systems are the single biggest carrot for realtors to dangle in front of buyers. This district should be attractive to discriminating buyers. Every Day Mathematics,Literacy Collaborative,the Spinnaker program, Smartboards and Elmos and laptops in all the K-8 are selling points. These are property value raising initiatives.

    The negative press contradicts them in a reputaion-damaging way that impacts the entire town.

    I know that is true beacuse I am touch with former principals and teachers from progressive school districts in Lincoln, Newtown CT and California. They are pretty impressed with what this town has accomplished on a negative budget. They don't know about the negativity.

    The want to know how to get their teachers working toward a common goal that is bigger and better than a state test.

    You should be impressed with the initiatives that this town asked for at the community forum, and you should fight to keep them.

    Trust me, these programs and models can only be sustained with administrative and community support. If you think nothing will change (in terms of curriculum) with a change in administration then you haven't talked to two of our teachers who left literacy collaborative districts when they changed back to a basal when a new Super came in. You can say that won't happen. I hope not.

    If there is anyway to patch up this battered rug and replace it carefully under us, the momentum will be regained. Replacing it may look better, and it may be easier, but it will not be better. I hope we can figure out a way to extend Dr. Johnson's contract for another year at least. You will not be disappointed. Reach out to people that have information not personal reputation damaging opinions please. Thank you.

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  26. I will continue to get the word about Shari Marshall to help educate the parents and taxpayers as to who she really represents.
    She's been on the board 20 years, Why would anyone want to stay on a school board that long? She does it to protect all the things wrong in the Sandwich Schools. Shari did the bulk of hiring over the 20 years, yet this woman had no clue how much the benefits cost the town? It was clear she never cared how it affected the town side, she said that all the time. She's been protecting the School budget & Commun. School budget shanigans for years, she given the union whatever they wanted and then some over the years. All these actions made it so we had more employees than Rick Reino could count in the district, but our kids had no supplies, decent books, computers, smart boards, leaking roofs that had been ignored for years. Like a poster said it was all about feeding the union beast, regardless of how it impacted our children. We are grateful that Dr. Johnson got laptops for teachers and classrooms, smart boards and updated some books. But thats exactly what the old regime doesn't want.So back to feeding the beast and scaring everyone into an override every year. Just sit back and watch Shari's annual mantra speech, she hasn't had a new approach in 20 yrs because she so busy protecting all her old friends.

    She always says "this is the way we have always done it"

    Einstein said Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. That's Shari's 20 yr term in a nutshell.

    Hearing the truth hurts sometime, especially when you have believed in someone for 20 years.

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  27. Randy

    Decent analysis, thoughtful attempt at reconciliation. I hope my thoughts appear non inflammatory, because, there is more damage, hurt, resentment, and ugly anger than I’ve seen in the 20+ years I’ve lived in town. In the local vernacular, this is wicked bad.

    First thought is that somehow your analysis left one party totally off the hook – and that’s the 84% of registered voters who failed to show up for an election with real choices and real consequences.
    It’s hardly democracy when 7%-8% of voters from any side (what, 800, 1200, 1300 votes?) “wins” the right to change overnight 4,000 or so people’s daily lives and futures, and it’s simply disingenuous and more divisive to assert some sort of mandate for any agenda on that basis. I don’t care which side it’s on. I lived here through the infamous one-vote override. There are still scars. You think that would have taught people a lesson, but apparently not.
    I know people here have busy lives, and the prevailing philosophy about government, big or little “G”, is that we don’t need or want them meddling in them. Fair enough. We’ve known for a long time that participation in town politics is very limited, it’s always the usual suspects (and I mean that with respect and even affection), but this mess is unprecedented, and brought to us in no less measure by the abject default of civic responsibility as much as the history you outlined. We may not LIKE government, but it’s not going away, and if we let it run amok, this is what it’s going to do to us.
    I’m almost to the point where I’d say, fine, let them work it out, let this town suffer the consequences, except the burden falls unfairly on children and the newest of the teaching staff and initiatives at the schools.
    “None of the Above” carried the day at the last election, and how NOTA is going to lead is beyond me.

    That brings me to my second point, which is the absence of active leadership in town in general. No disrespect to anyone holding an office, or to any executive in any branch or department in government, but each of those constituencies rarely and barely extends beyond a small group of self-interested parties or True Believers. There seems to be no leadership for (or even a definition of) broad-based goals that people can wrap their heads around and get behind. Yes, people participated in the schools forum, but apparently, those resulting goals and vision weren’t shared, or desired strongly and widely enough to supersede the personalities standing for or against them. Ipso facto whispers, accusations, mistrust, back-stabbing – we’re all fractured into little Afghani-like tribes – town/school/community school/rec-sports/unions/literacy/etc etc. Pick your side and your weapons.
    I wasn’t happy to see partisan party politics come to a forefront here in town, but the RTC provided some leadership for some people. Same with the Taxpayers Association – But those groups didn’t seem to be present and/or effective in the last election.

    I agree, a recall may strike a chord in some quarters, but it’s wasted energy and money. A 6 month extension is interesting; the new majority would have made their statement much less recklessly by offering only a one year extension with 6 month provisions in the first place.
    And while they’re hiring new administrators, I beg them to dump the citizen search committee. Obligatory “doing the same thing” mantra aside, let citizens draw up a list of qualities and qualifications for the job as guidelines for a professional (not local) executive search company. We’d have local input and restore faith in the process.

    And yes, Peenut, a 6 or 12 month extension would encompass another election. It’ll give the voters who sat on their brains a whole year to wake up and think about whether or not this mess was the best they could bring. Because this is so not change we can live with.

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  28. MS.Hunt the points you make are all very credible and with out question show the positive side of a progessive and innovative leadership program. These programs also show how well managed they were especially when you consider the negitive budget that Dr. Johnson was working under. I am of the opinion that this did not matter to the leadership of the School Union or the four that voted to not extend her contract. Many valid points during the past year were overlooked. All of those good points were in my opinion deliberatly placed in the back ground, as those who conspired to spread rumors and only negitive comments gained an upper hand. The good citizens of Sandwich were spoon fed only things that they could understand and since non of it was positive it become apparent as to why the present four have formed an alienance. along with the Union leadership to further discredit all the good work that Dr. Johnson put in place.

    I find it rather strange that the Chairperson of the School committee has place her next meeting to a date one month from the last meeting. One would think that given the present circumstance that they would be conducting more meetings rather then less.

    One could also say WHAT IS THE PLAN/

    The Marshall stranglehold must be released if the Sandwich School District is to ever progess into a future educational format for every youngster to obtain the benifit from its implimentation in todays world.

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen in the town of Sandwich

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  29. Trish-

    What do her old friends have to do with anything? What influence do they even have now on the schools? Stop with your personal attacks on Sherry's reputation because it falls on deaf ears and sound rediculous.

    There are rules and regulations to how things are done...have you forgoten??? Just because people follow the rules and regulations and not cause the uproar you did by your motion does not mean they are wrong or protecting people who are not even in the system anymore.

    Stop with your personal attacks and accusations because they are unfounded.

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  30. Trish-

    If Sherry is so evil and not for the school system, why would people keep voting her in? Oh that's right because you have not got the word out about her. You need to grow up and if you are so concerned about the school system run and do something about it.

    And Angela Feltman if people were as concerned as you think they are...why did they not show up at the polls and why didn't they show up at the meeting to voice their opinions? What makes you think anything is going to change with the new election? Because Trish Lubold is attacking Sherry? Don't you think in the 20 years she has been on the SC others have attacked her but yet she is somehow still here. I guess it because she does the right thing. All members of the SC have been attacked at some point for some reason or another yet the goods ones always stay and the others always leave...hummm??? Let's think about it.

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  31. I think that Miss Lubold is a hateful person. If one sees wrong with what Mrs. Marshall stands for or doesn't stand for, then they should just state it and defend their statement. My guess is that even though Mrs. Marshall is on the committee, then the sun will rise from the east and set on the west every day. Randy, maybe you could start another thread where you only accept positive statements and arguments that are positive explanations of facts, facts as seen by the writer.

    As for all those who are so upset that 85% of the registered voters did not vote, the reason just might be that they are unable to follow what is happening in this town. The School Committee for example meets about a couple of dozen times each year. Has anyone ever tried to follow what happens, I have. I have only a reasonable amount of intelligence which is probably true of most people, yet I can not follow what is happening. May I suggest that like the Selectmen, the School Committee should meet 3 to 3.5 per month on average. They could have every other meeting for the "show" they put on for the public and then the other for business. This would allow some of the business to trickle into the "show" once in a while when something serious is being discussed.

    This is my first and last post. I may not even vote again I am so sick of attacks on this blog from both sides. It makes me sick to my stomach. I moved here several years ago because I thought it was a sleepy town that took care of its own, instead, this is what I got.

    Randy, I like your blog and try to read it every day, but I am giving up on School Threads. People are afraid, as a whole, to go against the political grain. Many of us have children in school and like the teachers of our children. When one trashes the union, then perhaps they are also trashing the teachers, the same ones who impement Dr. Johnson's poliies.

    In the end, the pro Johnson people will succeed, not because they are necessarily right, but because they have the loudest voice, and maybe this is the way it should be. The people who did not vote, can complain, but they will not be listened to. I

    I am just ranting. Forgive me. I am truly sick of this town.

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  32. To Sick...The Union is just as divided as the School Committee is...the same type of ill-behavior, rumour-spreading,and lying is occurring within...these groups are eating their own. I think that what makes matters worse is that people with common-sense just sit back and watch...which is unfortunate because it is ALL about the kids and they are the ones in the most trouble. BTW: Peenut gets an "F" in Spelling ;)

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  33. Marshall won the last election because nobody else ran -- she came in second for 2 uncontested seats. In the race before that, she was a distant second to Barrette -- who was a complete unknown.

    Hopefully, a few people will step up next spring and encourage her retirement as Carlisle & Linehan's mouthpiece.


    Good proposal, Mr. Hunt. But -- bigger question is why would Johnson stay? A third year of frozen wages? More crap from the phony union leadership that represents neither its members OR the students? More garbage from the local press who would much prefer reprinting union press releases than doing any actual reporting?

    Maybe some more advice from Jess Linehan who walked out on her Sandwich school job after 2 days because she didn't want to work so hard? (Wonder WHY she seems to have an axe to grind?)

    Forget the budget -- we stand a better chance of seeing Randy & Carl in Speedos at the 4th of july parade than we do of seeing a school override.

    Police, Fire -- sure I'll pay for THAT.

    I have taught for years both in Sandwich and off-Cape. It's a travesty what's happening here.

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  34. To teacher. One reason people don't get involved is because they don't want to get knocked for miss spelling!

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  35. Not that it really matters anymore, but ...

    The School Committee threw out the results of the Search Committee in early June of 2008 when 2 out of three finalists didn't bother to come back for their second interviews.

    It did certainly look like a bag job to hire the Mashpee Superintentendent (who had already been turned down for several other jobs that year). Thankfully, the SC threw the results (and the Search Committee) out.

    I assume it is because the Committee DID want to regroup that Johnson was only made interim Superintendent. Somebody had to be in charge once the outgoing Supt left on July 1.

    Three months later, Johnson was made the permanent Superintendent.

    Ironically, the school committee was criticized for jumping the gun -- but they had already worked with her for over a year as Curriculum Director and Interim Superintendent -- I would assume they knew far more about her than they would have about any candididate brought forward by the infamous Search Committee --- IF they had brought a real candidate forward!

    Mr. Hunt is correct, however, regardless of the "Big Picture" logic -- The School Committee gave the appearance of acting impulsively and Dr. Johnson was tainted by the process and certain folks got their nose severely out of joint - and retaliated accordingly.

    The reality is that it was not an impulsive decision and the members I talked to had felt strongly on the issue long before that unscheduled motion.

    Mr. Hunt is also correct that we need to eliminate these "feel good" citizen committees -- half the search Committee would have worked for the new Superintendent and the other half knew nothing about hiring executive level staff (not sure what the student brought to the party!). Next time, hire a professional recruiter specializing in School Superintendents -- and NOT Cannonne from the Cape Cod Collaborative.

    But, as someone said earlier -- who would WANT this job?

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  36. TO SICK SAID
    JUST TO LET YOU KNOW WAS TRIED ABOUT MORE MEETINGS DECLINED BY TH BIG 3 AND 1 OF THE BIG 3 HAS TO BE IN HARWICH FOR THOSE MEETINGS ON WED

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  37. TO ANONYMOUS
    JUST TO LET YOU KNOW DANA WAS NOT AN UNKNOWN AND
    SHE CAME IN 2ND BECAUSE CERTAIN SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS VOTED FOR 1 PERSON SO THAT PERSON WOULD GET IN.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I never heard of him. That's WHY I voted for him!

    What's a "Big 3" ? They can't block anything -- if the other 4 wanted a meeting ... there would be a meeting. Who are you kidding?

    And ... WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR CAPS LOCK ?

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  39. Good Post, Randy.

    But re: your comment "...school committee that is free to supervise her..."

    We're a few eggs short of a dozen. As near as I can tell, the Committee is now run by a retired nurse, a library aide, an xray technician, and a swim coach. How can they effectively argue with somebody with 40 years of experience and a PhD in education/administration ?

    Between the 4 of them, there's no managerial experience and I bet there's probably only 2 BS degrees. (When asked about budget experience, one of the new ones said "I gut nuthin'" -- probably the only true statement she has made in a year!)

    How can somebody supervise something -- particularly a $30 Millon something if they have no education or professional experience of their own.

    That's like asking the Civil Air Patrol to run NORAD? (Actually, that would probaby work out better!)

    The School Committee has returned to being a stepping stone from the PTA ... to oblivion. We need qualified people to run for these seats.

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  40. OK HORRACE SO THE OTHER 3 HAVE PHD'S AND MANAGER.
    EXPERIENCE. THATS WHY YOU DID NOT ENCLUD THEM I ASSUME OR IS IT IF YOU AGREE WITH SOMEONE THEY ARE THE GOOD GUYS AND IF YOU DON'T THEY ARE THE BAD GUYS

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  41. ANONYMOUS SO BECAUSE YOU DID NOT HEAR ABOUT HIM HE WAS AN UNKNOWN. IF THE 3 DON'T WISH TO MAKE OTHER MEETINGS THAN THE COMMITTEE OF 7 WOULD BE 4 BOY I CAN SEE THE COMMENTS FLY. AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE ONE SC SITUATION TAH CAN'T ATTEND BECAUSE OF HER HARWICH REQUIREMENT.

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  42. I'm considering adding bad grammar and failure to turn off your CAPS LOCK KEY as additional reasons not to post comments.

    CAPS LOCK ANONYMOUS, the next time you get in your car, check your turn signal. I have a feeling it's been on for at least a week.

    (JUST KIDDIN' YA'!!)

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  43. I am done with all this. No more posts for me. No voting. No watching meetings, No more PTA, No more helping and volunteering in Sandwich. Thanks to all of those who read what I wrote. This used to be a good blog, no more.

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  44. POINT WELL TAKEN WILL TRY FOR BETTER GRAMMAR,I LIKE THE CAPS ON LOL

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  45. Point to Mr. Hunt! I just followed that person down 6A with the blinker on!

    I'm not sure what all the discussion of Harwich is -- Is it a problem that a member may have other commitments on other nights? I would hope that they all don't sit home and watch American Idol re-runs on every night they don't have a meeting.

    Although, I unfortunately suspect some might.

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  46. We don't need no education
    We dont need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

    We don't need no education
    We dont need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teachers leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
    All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

    A little Pink Flord for 'ya. I would agree with having qualified people on boards and dept heads (who wouldn't)but when asking for that on a volunteer board it becomes a problem. That would mean a job description of some sort with education requirements and filling out an application of some sort that would give them a ticket in order to run.....or some sort. As it stands now I can be 21 years old and get elected to the BOS. Like Pedro said, "I don't have much to say.........but if you vote for me all of your wildest dreams will come true."

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  47. Good Afternoon Randy-

    Just for everyone on this blog and not that I need to explain myself to anyone but the name "Peenut" is not spelled correctly like "Peanut" but I spell it that way because that name and its spelling is very near and dear to me...now we can move on from my "F" in spelling! :)

    As for Horace Mann the retired Nurse that you are referring to actually goes to work full time Monday thru Friday. Management comes in all forms. You do not have to run a multi-million dollar corporation in order to effectively run and supervise the school system. Everyone has their strong points and their week points. That is what is great about a 7 memeber board...where one may lack another makes up for.

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  48. Pink Floyd. Heh, who is going to scrape me off the ceiling?

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  49. Having observed the BOS and School Committees over many years, I can truthfully say this is the weakest I have ever seen the School Committee. Peenut, you may not think that one needs to be a mangaer in a large corporation, but I need to tell you, it sure does help in the area of critical thinking. This is obviously lacking with this group.

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  50. Welcome to democracy --- we now have a $30 million budget with 400+ employees, and 3600 students -- controlled by a nurse, a swim coach, a library aid, and a housewife who says shes "gut nuthin'" when asked about budget experience.

    Who said that people get the democracy they deserve?

    We're in trouble.

    And we've got nobody to blame .... except the people who didn't bother to show up to vote for qualified, INDEPENDENT candidates.

    If you don't vote, don't bitch. (Of course it is IS your right to bitch -- just don"t expect anyone to listen!)

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  51. Has anyone heard the plan yet? The four board members have not given concrete reasons for firing Dr. Johnson yet, does it make sense to fire someone before you have a plan in your head first. Why are they not telling the parents what the school plans are for our school children educational future? They have a plan why are they being so secretive about their plan? Some parents are saying Bradshaw from Mashpee is going to be our next superintendant.

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  52. $5 on Cannonne !

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  53. I have heard that Matt Bridges is in his new position as a "warm up" for a year to try to step in and be the next super when MEJ leaves.

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  54. Mr Hunt perhaps one of those in the know, out in never , never land can tell every one why the last Superintendant is still unemployed. Two years after she left our school system? Now the present chair had been her strongest advocate and we have some one the direct opposite of her last choice and she fires her..Where is the common sense in that process?

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich

    ReplyDelete

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