Thursday, August 5, 2010

Myopic school committee misses an opportunity

Last night, the school committee stared a gift horse in the mouth and didn’t see anything. They were led to water, but once again refused to drink.

Superintendent Johnson’s declaration that she holds a valid contract through June of 2013 provided the cover needed by those who voted her out, without being forced to dine on crow.

They could have stipulated to the fact that the contract extension is valid without spending a dime on attorneys and search firms. And without spending a huge amount of time on, and enduring the distraction of, an unnecessary search for a new super.

My plan for rescuing this unfortunate situation required a large dose of humility in order to move forward. It’s as if the tooth fairy showed up last night and took away the hardest part of that plan.

But we’ll have none of that. With heals dug firmly in, Ms. Chairman is willing to let the chips fall where they may—no matter the expense.

When foresight is lacking, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


  1. Well said Randy. We have a Superintendent whose academic programs everyone admires (including the 4 who voted her out). We have a Superintendent whose business acumen everyone acknowledges has controlled school spending and identified real cost savings (including the 4 who voted her out). And, we have a Superintendent whose work everyone acknowledges has addressed every issue identified in the recent State audit of our schools (including the 4 who voted her out). All of the proceeding is true and factual and still we’re firing the Superintendent and potentially exposing the Town and its taxpayers to a multi million dollar settlement. I am still waiting for any one of the four who voted her out to explain why.

  2. Being somewhat new to this process (school and town meetings), I have a few questions. Which legal authority represents the School Committee? Is it Town Counsel? What about Johnson? Do they have their own private counsel or do they each have someone from the Town, union, etc? Regarding the SC, has their attorney been consulted? Is anyone giving them guidance, legally that is?

    Further, I read more and more about the 4 newer members that nobody seems to care for, blah blah....I agree, they really aren't doing any justice here. However, the 3 remaining members sit back and DO NOTHING!!! Cahill is half asleep, rarely says a thing. Killion is just as angry and argumentative as the rest...but if they want to be heard, do something!! Be vocal! Organize yourselves, make a plan and present it! Otherwise the 4 others will keep on keepin on....

  3. Academia on parade. This was fun to watch for a while. Now? It is just sad

  4. answer to your question is really in the video of that last school committee meeting. Those you chastise for not speaking out realize the vote of the 'magnificant four' cannot be trumped. Its worse than gridlock, its a simple majority. We will live with this majority until the next election, and as Randy and Bob have said...this one is going to cost us some money. Randy offerred the 8o percent solution, not all would be happy with it, however, it would have saved a ton of money. Eating crow is not a delicacy normally enjoyed by the magnificant four. Right now, they truly believe they can do no harm...they have the controls as we say in pilot land..... but even the best of pilots can crash....just keep watching. And by the way, since I have your attention, when this all comes up as a hidden cost for an override attempt, 'Just say no". Its obvious that these four do not have the best interest of the children in mind.....power.....corrupts!

  5. Greg,
    I think we agree on more points than you think. I have directv so I don't get to see the meeting broadcasts unless I do so on the web, I will try to catch it this weekend so I can see what you mean from last night.

    Anyway, it just seems to me that the "other 3" should band together more cohesively and more organized I guess. I agree that the fab 4 think they cannot be messed with...they have the majority. However, I wish the others would take more than a silent stance. Once I watch last night's meeting I will see where you are coming from.

    Not to worry, we will JUST SAY NO in this house!

  6. Even Randy Hunt admitted that MEJ had many faults and could use some time in "charm school".

    It is so sad for our town that these blogs have become punching bags for one side of an opinion. It is disgusting and juvenile how elected officials are being personally slammed.

  7. If you are one of the members of the SC that voted to give MEJ the job, or if you are a literacy teacher, MEJ can do no wrong. But if you are ANYONE else, you can see very clearly why her contract was not renewed.

    Do your research. Talk to the fire department, our other municipal dept heads, the rec department, parents, and teachers that are not involved in the literacy program.

    Ask them why they are afraid of retribution.

  8. Seriously!? Anonymous 4:33... you are anonymous...
    if you know something that "you can see clearly why her contract was not renewed"... please speak up.

    I am a parent and a taxpayer... I see more good coming from the Supt. than the SC who can likely cause us taxpayers to pay for 2 Superintendents...

  9. Good evening Mr>Hunt Some rather revolting decisions were made by members of the school Committee who have decided they have the power./ The power to do what ever they please no matter who it may hurt. The children in our school district will p[ay a dear price for this arrogance.

    Once again the words came up about shadow and mysterious voters that are afraid to come out of the closet to be heard in public about any feelings they may have, which is negative in nature. We even had some one here say the same words about retribution in places of our communiteem and all with no validity whats so ever. These are nothing but hollow words being used to hide the real reasons they voted the way they did.
    It is all about the Union leader, who has a large whip and controls not only the school committee, but how, when they speak and what they say. Take a look at the fake notes they take when they do not want to hear what people are saying during public forum. These four are a disgrace to human dignity in my opinion and need lessons in conducting a proper and productive meeting.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

  10. "a disgrace to human dignity"
    OK Carl, you have just sunk to the lowest level. Do you personally know these elected officials that you are slandering?

  11. Let me get this understand why the Superintendent of Schools has been let go taxpayers should ask the Fire Department and or the Police Department? Or, better still, taxpayers should ask the same teachers union members who anonymously fought the adoption of the curriculum, anonymously fought the implementation of written performance evaluations and anonymously refused to take a 0 two years in a row? Taxpayers should ask them instead of the many, many teachers, parents and taxpayers who publicly stood up and supported the Superintendent? Seriously?
    I'd ask but I'm too busy inspecting the raised seal on the diploma. Doctor.....sure she's a Doctor!

  12. it is very interesting how quickly people forget that there were violations and laws that were broken last year that have been conveinently forgotten about and swept under the rug and not the open meeting law

  13. (This probably doesn't matter to anyone except me, but now that someone else is commenting with my usual handle I just want to make it clear that "sandy shoes" isn't always the same person. When I use that name, it links back to my blog. If it doesn't, it isn't me. Thanks!)

  14. OK, I'll bite. What laws were broken and swept under the rug?

  15. poster 7:48 hasn't responded to the biter 9:19 to back up her allegations of breaking laws or sweeping under the rugs, maybe she's "got Nuttin" again?

  16. I believe that doing some kind of IEP is mandated by law to be done in a timely manner. Guess what, whether or not its law, it should be done for the "good of the children", but Mary Ellen did not do it in many cases with the special needs children. My proof can only be shown through an audit. She can't use the excuse of doing too many jobs as she never made a big deal of not being able to get IEPs out and she fired the assistant before she had time to get started.

    I believe that the safety number for people in the cafeteria was violated. Oh, maybe I should call that one back, after all who knows more about this, Dr. Johnson or JJ. I changed my mind, JJ does. He was slapped in the face. In the words of the vocal minority..."SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. If I was JJ, I would quit.

    How about the shifting of monies from one account to another either before approval by SC or without approval. Oh, another audit needed that we won't get.

    How about 1099 employees that should be W-2.

    Wake up Sandwich, wake up.

    Sandier Shoes than yours.

  17. Dr. Johnson needs (desperately) a class in leadership/management skills. The staff in the superindent's office are "miserable" working for her. Maybe HR should have a meeting with them. Numerous parents have had horrible dealings with the superindent. Many teachers are just trying to do their job (which is forever changing) and stay under the radar. Whatever accomplishments that Dr. Johnson may of acheived, they pale with how she deals with people and problems. If she doesn't learn how to effectively work with her staff, parents and a vast majority of teachers (never mind the problems she's had with the fire dept. etc.)folks will continue to re-elect individuals that see the problems that so many others have seen. Regardless of any potential good that may of come from the programs the Superindent has accomplished,if you have dealings with a "leader" and those experiences are less than effective or don't even get addressed, why wouldn't you opt to vote for someone that has seen the same problems that you have? What I'm suggesting is that more people in town have seen how ineffective she is in her leadership skills then any of you may realize. So, and I agree with Mr. Hunt, if she agrees to a series of leadership/management classes, the board should reconsider and/or postpone their vote. Since for the vast majority of folks her professional skills in dealing with issues/problems and people are the problem. Plus she has no idea how to delegate.

  18. FYI: The IEP's being current is the SPED directors responsiblity not the Superintendant!

    Where is your proof that MEJ knowingly violated any fire codes,no more spew, we need proof for now on. Fab four have destroyed their credibility and trust from the townspeople, showing proof will restore it.

    Show us the proof Dr. Johnson shifted monies without the boards vote?

    "Just cause for termination requires far more than false rumors. You "gut nuttin" if these are the reasons you fired Doctor (raised seal) Johnson. We are seeing lots of kaching $,$$$,$$$. if they don't get their acts together soon.

  19. Anonymous 8:16 - If there was a violation of your child's IEP You have a right under IDEA, Section 504, ADA and FERPA and the MA State Education Agency has a responsibility for assuring that your Sandwich School district does not violate your rights under those laws. You should use the complaint process through the State, contact your SPedPAC or both.

    As to your opinion of Dr. Johnson. I would contend the following. Right now the District is under great transition in Special Education. There is a third person in a leadership role in three years... with another new person joining the team right now. Many challenges/problems /complaints are the byproduct due to changes in leadership....

    One thing is for certain, the grass is not always greener, and it is often better to sow what you have than rip it up , replace and start over.

    Note: I have not mentioned whether I like, or support Dr. Johnson. I simply state that continued disruption and change for this District is bad for Special Education and bad for all children in our District

    Think about it.

  20. To An 918
    It seems that there is no disagreement that the superintendent has put many excellent programs in place. To mention a few; full day kindergarten, advisories for grades 6-12; a new reading and writing program for K-8; new math program K-4; new Spiniker program for children with autism; virtual high school classes; world language for grades 5 and 6 and the list goes on and on. Do you really think the superintendent could do these things on her own? of course not. These were all accomplished through the superintendent's leadership while working collaboratively with teachers and the entire school community.

  21. There is an editorial in the CCT today titled "Time To Move On". The MEJ myrmidons won't care for it.

  22. "Myrmidon" - good one.

    I've never claimed that this superintendency hasn't had problems.

    I just think that

    1) continuity of leadership in this budget crisis is very important,

    2) saying the promising curriculum initiatives that Dr. Johnson put in place will continue at the same level of teacher participation without her is naive, if not disingenuous;

    3) frankly, because of this whole mess, Sandwich is not in a position to attract applicants of the quality our schools deserve.

    And you know? I do hope I'm wrong. Because I'm not a Myrmidon to MEJ's Achilles. I just want my daughters to have excellent -- not just good enough, but excellent -- schools.

  23. Sandy Shoes, I take no position on whether it was good, or bad to let MEJ go. But you are mistaken to think that this Town would not be able to attract a qualified person to lead the school system. Currently I've been told by individuals who recruit in this field that there are plenty of current qualified superintendents who are looking for new opportunities, and I am sure that many of them could meet are requirements and standards. Actually I am told there is a glut of superintendents, some very qualified, and some whom we probably wouldn't select. Our last two haven't worked out that well. We have 2 strikes against us, lets hope we can get a big hit with the next one.

  24. To An. 632
    It is to their advantage to tell you there are many qualified candidates. Then we can hire them to conduct a search and pay them $30,000 and 3 years later let them do another search and pay them $30,000. This could not be self serving could it???

  25. To Anonymous 8/7/10, 10:42
    Do you really think the last 2 methods of selection worked well? If you do, then going that routine dooms us to failure again, in my opinion.
    Can we really endure what we've gone through with the 2 previous Superintendents these past 6 years, again? Get the professionals to screen candidates, do extensive back ground checks, analyze previous performance, interview candidates and prior employer/sources and have these professional make a recommendation to the SC, they are the hiring authority.
    I am not sure whether there is a system similar the the process used by the Municipal government for selecting our new police chief, but everything I heard about that process was extremely positive, so consideration should be given to such a course of action.

  26. Spend the money this time and hire a professional search committee. Make sure Chair Marshall is kept off the search committee she has already been a part of many searches and Bradshaw was almost shoved down our throats by Shari's bag job. Make sure Cannone's search group is not hired even if he offers cheap price, that will be a bag job as well. Lots of Super's floating around, maybe but how effective are they? There are lots of excellent professional search groups in Boston, Metro West and North Shore.

  27. To August 6, 9:56 AM. I don't have a pony in the race. I do try to follow what I can on what is going on. I am not sure if Maryellen Johnson should stay or go. She is without doubt the greatest with respect to curriculum. Not being a Sandwich resident, I must marvel at what she has accomplished. However, because I spend much time with people in Sandwich in a second job, I have spoken to dozens of unhappy parents, teachers, and employees of other town departments.

    My post simply was answering a question of what laws she violated. I mentioned four items. You responded by asking for proof on two of them. Go back and read my post. On two of them, I did say that there would have to be an audit. On the IEPs, I spoke with many parents who did not have calls answered, meetings scheduled etc. Some of them were calling Dr. Johnson when there was no SPED leader and being re-directed to Miss Booris, who never called them back. I would say that the IEPs were not being legally done and that the Superintendent ultimately oversaw a system where the law was not being followed.

    As for the the cafeteria incident. It was much more serious than people know. Meetings were held between major board members and high ranking town employees over it. It was swept under the rug to protect the superintendent. Let's ask JJ if it was violated or not.

    As for the money being shifted. Speak to former central office personnel and ask them, they will tell you the truth.

    The 1099s. I know 4 people who received illegal ones.

    Sandier Shoes

  28. If the previous school committee had followed procedures used by many towns when they have a sampling of taxpayers work as a search committee, we would not be in this huge mess.

    The last search committee did not even pick Johnson as a finalist. That school committee decided to drop the plan the taxpayers had made and completely ignore the search committee's recomendation. They hired her at a meeting when it wasn't even on the agenda.

    As a Sandwich taxpayer who has no connection to the schools, this infuriates me.

  29. Just a reminder -- there was a search committee for the last superintendent search that produced three finalists -- two of them were from out of state and apparently had no interest in coming to the District because they cancelled their second interviews.

    The third was/is the Superintendent of a neighboring (mediocre) school system, without a PhD and who had already been turned down by several other communities that year.

    It's hardly a successful search effort if 2/3 of the Finalists don't come back and the third was never a realistic possibility. I could certainly see why there was little confidence in the judgement of that Search Committee.

    That being said, I do agree that the appointment of Johnson was handled badly, and that has unfairly tainted her tenure.

  30. and to add to the previous (Aug 9, 2:03pm) poster's accurate comments about the last search -

    The lack of qualified applicants for the last superintendent's search does not bode well for the next search. I would suggest there are likely to be fewer applicants of quality willing to wade into the swamp of Sandwich School Committee "issues."

    Further, I think everyone assumes that the next search will be handled by a consulting company - I wonder if a consultant will be willing to work for a district where the current superintendent already has a valid contract that goes to 2013. It doesn't seem likely he/she would want to represent such a murky employment opportunity to people he/she might recruit; wouldn't it end up reflecting on his/her reputation as well?

    Beyond that - Sherry has consistenly been the committee member over the years who has been dead set against hiring an expert to get a Super - she feels strongly about the representative search committee...

    So, even if Dr. Johnson was to leave without holding the SC/town to her contract, we are unlikely to get a decent person to replace her - let alone a person of her very high caliber.

    People in town - parents, community members - are really distraught about the chaos within the School Committee and see no end in sight.

    Sherry needs to take things in hand, show some good judgement and leadership and restore some confidence in the School Committee's ability to support our schools.

  31. To AA 816
    For the record: The room was set up and approved by the Sandwich Building Inspector the day before the event. The Inspector helped the custodians set up the chairs and tables and then approved the set up. The Inspector counted the chairs, counted the tables and measured isles and then he approved the entire set up. Ask the union leadership who they tried to use, in addition to Dave from the Enterprise, to make the Dr. look bad. Shame, shame!

  32. To August 6, 2010 8:16 AM Just the facts: The supt. does not write the IEP's; The assistant for curriculum was not responsible for IEP's. IEP's are formulated by a team and are the responsibility of Director of Special Education and Sandwich has always had a Director in place. The Assistant was not fired by the Supt. When the budget was reduced mid year by over $600,000 the supt. met with the principals and then made recommendations to the SC for reductions to the budget. The Assistant was terminated by the School Committee for budgetary reasons so as not to over spend the budget.

  33. If Killion, Cahill, and Susko don't make the motions, then the debate ends excepting for their daggers at every meeting.

  34. Killion et. al. can make a symbolic motion, which will likely fail -- but this is probably out of their control -- and it will certainly not end the debate (or daggers).

    The Supt's lawyer will eventually file for a hearing, or the BOS will recognize the potential liability to the Town and ask Town Counsel to step in and file for a hearing regardless of what the SC does.

    This isn't going away. The SC is just (once again) blowing a chance to proactively solve a problem.

  35. There absolutely is a shortage of qualified superintendent candidates. Don't take my word for it. Simply google those key words and take a look at the articles that appear.

    In one article called "Seller's market for superintendents complicates search for school leaders", the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents explains that searches yield about 20 candidates, but only a small number come with strong credentials. About 60 of the commonwealth's 277 (about 22%) superintendents turn over each year. The job has become increasingly complex and demanding in a state with a highly regulated education system.

    What's more, in light of this shortage, districts who have the ability to pay are offering attractive compensation packages with added perks to lure the best candidates. I don't think Sandwich falls in this category. Add to the mix the acrimonious atmosphere in Sandwich right now, plus Dr. Johnson's contract in legal limbo, and I don't like our chances.

    By the way, news to Marie Kangas who continually harps on Dr. Johnson's salary: The average pay for MA superintendents was in the $140,000 range last year, but is now hovering around $150.000.

    We've got to cool the emotions and start paying attention to the facts!

  36. What size school system are you comparing the contract to

  37. Dr. Johnson received a much higher salary than Dr. Young without the experience. Sandwich pays the superintendent, if I am to believe the blogger was 140K at the time she got the job. She received 10% more without experience.

    Why doesn't the school committee put Dr. Johnson's contract on the website? What are they afraid of showing the public.

    I wonder how many sick days, personal days and vacation days Dr. Johnson gets and what the buy back arrangement is for those days not taken.

    I wonder if she gets a housing allowance.

    I wonder how many meetings requiring travel she must take, who pays for it, and the cost.

    I wonder why the school committee never followed up on her delegation of Booras to work with special needs parents. She failed to do it well in my opinion.

    I wonder what kind of tact she used when forcing resignations.

    I wonder what the Fire Chief, Police Chief, think about working with her.

    I wonder what Mr. Dunham thinks about working with her.

    I wonder what the Finance Committee thinks about her power points (nothing as good as the in depth discussion to items given by Mr. Dunham when he does them).

    I wonder why she hired an assistant when someone as uninformed as myself knew there was no money to pay for the position.

    I wonder why it is fine for Dr. Johnson to put the town in legal jeopardy but not for the school committee.

    I wonder why the minority does not do anything but harp on Mrs. Marshall. They never make motions, they just sit and complain.

    I wonder why we only hear the bichin' and never get the answers.

    Sandra Socks

  38. I wonder why we never heard of some of the everyday math problems in California and Texas.

    I wonder who overseas the new school bus drivers, the buses, and maintenance thereof.

    I wonder why maintenance services, cafeteria service, lawn services, janitorial services, teaching services are not outsourced. If parochial schools can pay almost 50% less for teachers, why not hire a company that does teaching services. Let them worry about healthcare, 401Ks etc.

    I wonder why sc does not come up with a plan in collaboration with a teachers college to do good development programs in Sandwich.

    I wonder why MEJ does not call JJ now and avoid a problem on opening day.

    I wonder why Bob Guerin doesn't take over Sherry Marshal's seat when she take leave to rest. He could then refuse to get up.

    I wonder why Mr. Johansen doesn't voluntarily teach courses in wrting, speaking and morals.

    I wonder why Mr. Augustine doesn't do the town accountant, town treasurer, selectmen, sc, Police and Fire all by himself.

  39. I agree completely and wonder when our elected officials will choose to move forward in representation of the people they were elected to serve. What about our kids?
    Never mind a plan if you can't come together to create one.

  40. I may be a cranky English teacher, but could it be a coincidence that the grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization of most of those defending the current School Committee members seems to be absolutely atrocious?

    Not much of an example for students!

  41. Regarding the question asked by poster 12:26 on 8/16: Those salaries were the state average. In the article I read, superintendents in the Boston suburbs are much higher. (Arlington $175,00; Andover $200,00). I'm sure a statewide comparison of salaries is available somewhere.

    But my point was simply to show that qualified superintendent candidates are in short supply, and for districts to hire and retain them, they must be willing to offer a competetive compensation package. In Hadley, a district I don't much about except it's fairly rural and fairly small, the superintendent was just offered a contract with annual 5% increases that peaks at $147,735 in 2012 and also includes $6000 in longevity payments, a $2000 tax-deferred annuity, and a full payout of unused vacation time. This is the reality. This is what a new hire is going to expect.

    In the rush to replace Dr. Johnson, her salary has been bandied about by her critics. I merely want to suggest that Dr. Johnson's compensation does not seem to be out of line. Moreover, if her critics think we can easily replace her, and possibly even save money by doing so, they're in for a big surprise.

    That is why I wish the entire School Committee could have embraced Mr. Hunt's original idea: recognize the many accomplishments of Dr. Johnson and work on the deficits. A new superintendent search, regardless of who leads it, frightens me very much.

  42. To the cranky English teacher. I guess I must be wrong for not being as well versed as you. Imagine if that happened at the last Presidential election!

  43. I am extremely tired of all of this anonymity when it comes to the MEJ contract fiasco that Ms Marshall and her gang of four have created. If anyone on the school committee or not on the school committee can produce any valid reasons as to why the contract was not and should not be extended then please produce them and this all goes away!!!WERE WAITING!!!!!

  44. beyond the DA ruling that open meeting law was violated?

  45. Mr. Sabetta, If you are sick and tired then complain to Mr. Hunt that he should not have anonymous postings on the blog. If he will not eliminate them, then just stay with the blog Mr. Simmons does and don't get on this one.

    I am sick and tired of people who make a "show" of open forum. Its the same people over and over again, and, I suspect, you will join them. The purpose was to speak to the committee people. You said the same thing at two meetings. Did they not hear you or were you up a second time for the camaras.

    What did she do wrong. She messed up the entire IEP process through her inability to get it on track once the prior person left. I know of at least two people who told me that the schools, off cape, where the children were housed, had called the office time and time again without a response, at the risk of the child. She failed to inform the committee when she fired people and that she was putting the peanut butter issue in without warning them. This is poor for an executive.

    Read Randy's blog on SC see through this. What happened to the money. Was it done legally.

    Mr. Sabetta, because you put your name to something doesn't mean you are right, it only means it serves your purpose. I choose not to put my name as it would offend good friends, including Bob Simmons and Bob Guerin. One of my children knows two school committee people on the current minority.

    I am not sick and tired of reading about or responding to anything anyone has to say. You, on the other hand, need a rules change. Go to Randy and ask him why he allows it. Frankly, it is better the the other blog because it allows for more anonymity.


  46. DAs don't "rule" on anything. They issue opinions. Opinions are like ...... That is the point. You can wish this contract away, that certainly is your right. But that will not make it go away. This is going to cost the Town of Sandwich a small bundle, probably in the neighborhood of 2-4 FTE teachers per year for three years. We can churn all we want on blog pages. But we are going to find out in a real settlement what the truth is. Hopefully, we can handle the truth.

  47. to Jim Bond....In response to your comments let me clarify....I have no problem with anonymous blogs...although I chose to sign my name to what I post I feel if people dont want to thats their prerogative....I was referring to the SC members who have repeatedly stated that their votes were based on anonymous comments from anonymous citizens....this is what is not acceptable to me....I hope this clarifies my position.......

  48. Many of the anonymous citizens whose comments you refer to have much more at stake than the general public. I think that our SC members have articulated this quite well. Believe it or not, our communtity members (parents, students, teachers, administrators, public employees) have just as much right to a voice and to remain anonymous if that is their choice.

  49. Mr. Sabetta, I realize the group you are attached to hip with is your stepping stone to run for school committee. Just remember when you get there that MANY things you will do require executive session. There seems to be one after every meeting. I am sick of those who do not answer my questions. If anyone was at any of the meetings, what were the accusations against the superintendent. The majority seems not to want to talk about it even in broad terms. That makes it hard for the average citizen to be able to understand all this. What ever happens, it will take three or four years to sort this stuff out, its to bad for Sandwich.


  50. Perhaps Mr Bond should take a short course in conflict resolution or how to deal with a public meeting crowd that is not on message. The reality is that the public forums are not really for discussion. They are there for you to convey your thoughts and messages. The SC chair, I am sure, would silence any real attempt at discussion. Mr Bond, it may frustrate you to know that this is the same way many public meetings are run. You can come, speak your piece, write a nice letter for inclusion, your five minutes of fame in front of SCT but it rarely provides the answers you seek. Frustrating this public forum business isn't it? Your power is in the voting booth. Just Say No Mr Bond!

  51. Greg, what the hell are you talking about? I would say that I participate in Public Forums several times a year. I was referring to the three or four people that parade to the microphone and tell the boards over and over again what the board already knows. This is fine, but I am sick of it. Mr. Sabetta's comment was quite good, I thought, but to me, he, along with the three or four people who always seem to get up and speak, in my opinion, do it for show. Mr. Sabetta had already told the sc what he thought, but needed to get it out to the general public. This to me is a show. He was not doing it for the sc, but for the audience. I never thought that the speaking before boards was necessarily a discussion. I know it can be, at times, with the Selectmen, but never with sc.

    For the record, I like the concept of open forum, I just don't like the grandstanding by some.

    By the way, Mrs. Marshall will ALWAYS let one speak, unlike Mr. Simmons who bullied people. Look at the re-plays.


  52. Mr. Hunt after reading some of the above commontary it sort of peaked a voice inside of me,

    It asked, when does the public have the right to know who all these annonymous folks really are that the present School Committee members are stating all of the negative comments in regards to getting rid of a person with a valid contract? How does one judge the intention or if in fact no such negative comments were ever made. To what degree of importance does a decision get made by ghosts hiding behind a closed door of secrecy.

    The public forum held by both the Schools and Board of Selectman is the most logical place to vent these negative feelings or writing an editorial in the local paper. Those that do such, including your truely ,do not do it for any grandstanding as has been mentioned above, but rather to enlighten those in contol, that something may not be right in there opinion. Each citizen has that right to speak at both Public forums and once again do not attempt to tell me that The Chair of the School committee allows every one there first admendments rights, because that is not simply not the case.
    At time we all become very passionate in our feelings, so if those that choose to be some ghost and hide behind others that claim we have annonymous complaints to base a decision on, it sort of make you wonder if in fact these people exist

    As far as Town Meeting goes every one that may consider themselves a member in our fair town also has the right to ask questions during the commontary forum and expect an answer. This is a dialog that has been an excepted practice at every town meeting that I have attended and that is why it is called a Town Meeting, so that the citizens can voice a concern and get a reasonable answer.

    If you attend our Town meetings, this is the place to openingly confront those you agree with or those you do not.

    This is only one way we respect and honor those who had the courage to give of themselves, in defending the Constitution of the United States.

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned Citizen of Sandwich

  53. Well now Mr Bond you truly must be a british citizen wanting to deny those poor folks their 1st amendment rights to speak in open forum. Like it or not, those folks are there, you may not care for the subject, but they do care. I think the point they are trying to make is NOT what is being said repeatedly, but that they are watching the SC carefully. Other than that I think you grasped what the 'hell' I was talking about when I said you can have your five minutes of fame. Democracy in action, even for a british agent! And I do have to ask you to review the tapes of the SC Chair squelching or attempting to squelch the comments of her own board members, never mind the public forum speakers. I think I see your color now James....maybe a bit red eh? Mr Simmons exercised control during a very conflicting timeframe because control was needed. Otherwise, those meetings would never end with anything productive to show. Just my 1st amendment thoughts here James....

  54. To the person who said this issue is a stepping stone for me to run for school committee......I do not now nor will I ever run for school committee....I have stated this in other forums....My wife is a teacher in the town of Sandwich and I do not feel that I could work effectively with the apppearance of a conflict of interest....Others on the committee have this same issue I know.....some do well and recuse themselves effectively and some do not...Thank you but I dont want to go there!!!

  55. Mr. Sabetta, let me guess, your wife is a teacher so she must be a shill for the Superintendent? The PLOT thickens. Tell me Mr. Sabetta, what is your plan? Where is the plan?

  56. My wife is certainly not a shill for the superintendent....and my wife is not the issue here...nice diversion......I am concerned that the superintendent was not extended because she has done a very good job under tough budgetary circumstances AND the way that it was done is questionable. I dont have " the plan" as you put it....but im not on the School committee...thats the issue.....THEY dont have a plan and they are going to hurt the one thing that matters the most......THE KIDS!!!!!!!!!

  57. Randy, there are people talking about the amount of money Dr. Johnson has saved our town districting children in under school choice. It is important to consider the amount being spent to send our Sandwich kids to other choice schools. At a recent Selectmen meeting, our Business Manager spoke about the significant number of Sandwich parents electing school choice for their children. According to a recent article in our local paper, the number of children leaving our district to date will not be available until October. Before we celebrate the savings, shouldn't we compare the numbers?

  58. To the poster who wrote about school choice. Believe me that this is but one example of the shell game that MEJ plays. There are others.

  59. If the Chair Marshall and gang keep their head in the sands the majority of parents will be asking for school choice to get their children the heck out of the Sandwich Schoool System. What are these four members thinking, can they clue the rest of town in on their plan please! School starts in a few days, please get your acts together asap!

  60. The person who wrote at 11:31 PM yesterday. I am curious as to how you know that the "majority of parents will be asking for school choice to get their children he heck out of the Sandwich School system".

    Was their a poll? I am not hearing it from the parents of my children who play on baseball and soccer teams, from neighbors with children, from parents with whom we socialize.

    If you just made it up, then I would tell you that they are going to have to get their kids to the schools, the town where they want to send their children may not have school choice or not have it at the school that they want. If the majority of parents "ask for school choice", I would guess that it would involve AT LEAST 1000 children. Now where will they all go. Oh, I think Brookline has openings in school choice, I forgot. Its only 80 miles away.

    You ask "what are the four members thinking" and "can they clue the rest of the town in on their plan". I would ask "what are the three members thinking" and "can they clue the rest of the town in on their plan". I would suggest they all get their acts together.

    I will fight against MEJ for what she did to our family, but I will not accept this constant harrassing of the minority on the majority without their follow up with actions to force the issue into a discussion. If you notice, the minority sits quietly and gets away from the discussion. They are as afraid of it as the minority is to face it.


    Braless 32A

  61. Did we ever have such a poisonous atmosphere in this town? Not in my thirty two years living here. This is a direct result of the underhanded hiring and renewing of MEJ's contract by the former SC, the sarcasm and bullying by two former SC members (and some current members)and by teachers who have become so political that the schools are torn into pieces acting as tools for MEJ, everyone whispering for fear of recrimination.So sad. I used to love teaching in this town and felt respected.I still feel I am am by parents and the children- thank God for them.I don't think I am by all SC members- how pathetic is that?If anyone thinks this mess( and the negative comments) don't filter to the classroom, you are mistaken.Our schools are not the happy places they once were. How can we get back on track to put every dollar back into the classroom and not on overbloated curriculum initiatives ( how much money has the Literacy program cost- all books, professional development for Literacy teachers, classrooom teachers,furniture. literacy libraries,laptops,meals, hotels for teachers,and all speakers etc... What is the actual cost?HOw long is this going to continue? How will MCAS results shown improvement to warrant this cost? How about the Everyday Math program- what does this cost? This is not to say these aren't worthwhile- but seem to be excessive in the amount of money poured in.

  62. anonymous teacher: I agree with you. The destruction has been done. We need to rebuild the Sandwich Schools now.

  63. To the anon teacher at 12:03 may I say that the majority of teachers in this school system have always been on the up side of outstanding. They have also been financially rewarded for their excellence with multiple pay increases over the years. Not that they didn't deserve those raises. There is one thing that you and others are doing that is unfair and incorrect. You can't blame MEJ or the former Superintendant for what we are all experiencing right now. It doesn't matter what it all costs when the economy is in the tank. If we were all still earning 24% on our 401K's, MEJ would be proclaimed a genius for her programs. That isn't reality. Reality is that both the general government side as well as the schools are going to find an insurmountable task in trying to pass any debt exclusion or override. This isn't a time for any growth in any program. It is time for your corporation (Yes the entire school system is just as costly to run as one very large corporation) to consider an honest freeze in increased costs until this economy heals. Please notice that I did not go so far as to mention the 'giveback' potential in unused leave or holidays. Now before you chastise me for being a non-school supporter, I have done my time, believe me. We tried to save Bruce Graham and his incredible music program by feeding that cow tons of cornstalks....we parked more cars at town fairs to keep theatre the end...we lost both for quite awhile. The infighting you are referring to is just todays society in action. Watch any reality show....even though I find them repulsive. Please, accept my thanks for the job you do. I think the entire government structure of this town needs a timeout. Look at the entire financial picture of the average homeowner, the retiree, the unemployed....and then, I ask you to 'Just Say NO' We just can't afford to continue business the way we are.

  64. Greg,

    I for one, can not just say no. I look at the world that Washington has put us in and just wonder how we began our slide as a nation. I will vote yes most probably to a debt exclusion because it is necessary. I will hold my nose as I vote. I will go for an override if, and only if, teachers take a zero and new programs are justified by MEJ showing us the everyday math.

    I hate to pay any taxes including all the new ones that Duval and Company have come up with, but I believe in education and want my children to have the same life or better than the one I am living.

    Remember, the SC is not splitting the teachers, the superintendent is doing it.

    Thomas F. Greene

  65. Thomas - how is the superintendent splitting the teachers? I would be very interested to hear your response.

  66. She favors some over others. Example is one that is always at open forum to make a show. The teachers are split by union non-union teachers and those who have benefited and not benefited. Go along to get along. Maryellen does not belong in this job. I would pay the entire contract myself to get rid of her now, but I don't have the dough.

    T.F. Greene

  67. Tom Boy, I think they named an airport after you somewhere, west of here....however, I digress. It is painfully obvious Tom that you are where we were back in the 80's. We watched programs die in order for the core educational requirements to be successful and they were. Both of my children completed their college educations easily because of the Sandwich School System. I am not saying that we should let the school system or general government fail. What I am saying is...this is not the time to grow anything be it new buildings or salary increases. I can also assume Tom that you are employed and have received some form of cost of living adjustments over the past two destructive years. That just isn't the case for a lot of folks. I am not sure my fingers are strong enough to hold my nose in order to say 'Yes' to any over ride. The answer to our problems in Sandwich do not change where the schools or general government are concerned. The tax base will never grow. We need to change things in the voting booth. 'Just Saying NO' is not the end to education for our schools. Not this year. But the way we do business has to change because the tax burden in this town, in this state is overwhelming to anyone who has retired and has not seen a COLA for well over two years. Nope, I won't use a clothespin on my nose Tom, I will simply Say NO!

  68. Greg,
    You make an assumption that because I am a teacher I am not concerned with the town- quite the opposite. Please reread my post. I am looking for a highly detailed accounting of expenditures for the past 2-3 years to see where the money is going. I am well aware of the economy, have a spouse who is always on the brink of layoff due to the economy, family and friends who are laid off and others who have had to move because of the tax rate in Sandwich. I have children in front of me every year on Free and Reduced lunch and others who are in great need.I fully expect to take a zero and don't
    think I'm a hero for it- just recognizing the situation. However, a teachers' zero is not that of a firefighter or police officer ( or DPW worker)
    we can't get overtime, details,holiday pay, extra vacation days, don't get uniforms, cleaning, Quinn bill (try paying off student loans with a required Master's degree) Oh yeah- what are the degree requirements for Police and Fire? None as far as I know for entry level postitions. So, please don't assume teachers don't agree with you. I am a taxpayer and citizen who wants many of the same things you do.Thanks for your thanks, but don't bash one who is looking of fiscal accountability as I wrote earlier.Oh by the way I have logged in at least a full week of work getting my classroom ready and preparing materials at home this summer. Do you know of any other unionized town worker that works for free?thanks for your support of teachers- ask for the full accounting to help us.

  69. The above post from a teacher says it all.
    Who else but a teacher would complain about having worked a week during their almost 3 month summer vacation?
    Who else but a teacher (work day ends at 3 maybe 4) would complain about their work hours?
    Guaranteed raises. A defined benefit retirement plan and still nothing but working condition complaints.
    Plus, nerve enough to compare themselves with Fire Fighters and Police men! They get their uniforms cleaned to remove the hazardous medical waste they encounter saving lives you dolt!
    Enough already!
    Nobody in town, except teachers, will be voting override moneys for the school anytime soon. Vote No. Vote No. Vote No.

  70. And two weeks off in December, 1 in February, and 1 in April, every conceivable holiday and an unGodly number of half days for "professional development", test scoring, conferences, etc....

    And then's there's tenure ...

  71. I am not a teacher but very upset with the previous post. I work very, very closely with dedicated teachers all year. Their work begins early in the morning and extends well into the evening. They are in the "trenches" with our kids every day! I know of many dedicated teachers that have been into their classrooms already and are quite prepared for the start of school on the 7th.
    Why have we allowed our superintendent to divide our teachers our school committee and our community?

  72. Oh yeah!
    That’s right - must have been the Superintendent who refused to take a 0.
    Must have been the Superintendent who complained about working past 4.
    Must have been the Superintendent who complained about working 1 week this summer.
    Must have been the Superintendent who compares herself to firefighters and policemen and begrudges them uniform cleaning costs.
    Yeah, that’s it. It the Superintendent. That’s the problem! Give me a break!
    So, so sick of schools, teachers, teachers unions and all the nonsense. Enough already!

  73. To the poster who have chosen to bash teachers based on my earlier posting rather than responding to my intention- which absolutley was not against the Police or Fire departments.Heck, I'm related to people in those professions! I merely want to make it clear that the zeros taken by those unions are not the same as what is being asked of teachers. The week worked is FREE. Teachers get paid for the work they do Sept.-June- not in the summer. This is why I have had a second ( and third some years)job every summer. We do not get paid for not working. If we had year- round school we would get paid for the additional time worked. Fire and Police get pensions as well- so don't utilities and lots of private corporations. I think all you really want to do is bash teachers, no matter what is written. Reread what I posted earlier and start asking the tough financial questions of the Super to see where the money is going.I won't darken your doorstep again, I see the majority of bloggers on this site just want to tear down, not have a true discourse. I have lots of school work to happily do(FREE) to get ready for next week to be bashed.P.S. Thanks a teacher for your ability to participate on this site.

  74. According to the MA department of Education the AVERAGE teacher salary in Sandwich is: $70,000.

    If, as the teacher above suggested, we assume that this is part time pay for part time work, then the AVERAGE / MIDDLE / MEDIAN salary annualized is actually: $94,000.

    Hey – thank a teacher! Math can be so much fun.

  75. Anon poster 8/29 10:37 PM.

    I thought that veterans gave me the ability to participate.

    Col. Klink

  76. Some teachers don't realize that there are people who don't make nearly what they do that are very much hurting. They would give anything for a job let alone one where they get more days off than Santa Claus.

    Be thankful for the job. I respect all teachers, but would want a little humility. I know teachers who don't go in early, don't work at night and are considered among the best.

    When you cry as you do, you piss of many people.

    A friend

  77. Hey Law and Order. The Superintendent took no raise, but, unlike the rest of the school employees, she could cash in on her vacation time.....I wish I had such a deal. I would work an extra month for the 10K.

  78. Sandwich median household income $66,318.
    Per Capita income $32,676
    Median teacher salary $70,000 with 3 months vacation a year!
    Hurry up and pass that override!

  79. More math.
    56 cents of every tax dollar collected goes to teacher salaries.

  80. Actual DOE numbers for Sandwich Teachers:

    2008 Average Salary: $62,297
    2009 Average Salary: $66,933


  81. 10:37 Anon,

    You are clueless. I work 2-3 jobs all year long. I don't get paid for nights and weekends at work --- I do it to stay current in my profession (I dont get paid professional develoment) AND I do it to preserve my job (I also dont get tenure -- or union protection).

    I have to justify my existence every day. My 401k cant compete with your pension.

    And you want more of MY money?

  82. Sandwich Teachers:
    2008 Average Salary: $62,297
    2009 Average Salary: $66,933
    ONLY an increase of 7.5 percent!
    No wonder the Town needs an override -- it's hard to give 7.5% raises when by law taxes can only increase at 2.5 percent or so.
    Vote No. Vote No.

  83. Anonymous of 10:17 PM is right on! I don't think it could have been put better. I believe that teachers are important, but I also agree that they should not bitch. They have it so much better than most people, at least in this town.


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