Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Sandwich School Committee candidate questions

This post will provide a single place for readers to ask their questions of the candidates for school committee in Sandwich. As is normal, anyone can post here anonymously, but if you do, I strongly suggest that you select the Name/URL option and choose a screen name in order for the candidates to reply to your questions/comments without confusion.

94 comments:

  1. Carl Johansen stated,

    Mr. Hunt I just located a request I had made about just what you have put up.

    This process allows more of a equal answer for every one running for office to respond.

    My first question goes to supporting the same accounting system used by the municipals side.

    Every one that watches all the budget meetings over the years can attest to the facts that the accounting system needs to be fixed on the school side of the budget process.

    Better accounting on recievable dollars, provides a better understanding where, and if they do have any financial issues that need to be addressed.

    A standard bookkeeping practice would deliniate every dollar recieved and spent.

    As I post this we have over $200,000 in the schools coffers, that is not seen in the present budget line items. It is being handled like a slush fund and that is not kosha. What do any of the present canidates plan to resolve in the above question?

    Carl Johansen

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  3. Recently in Barnstable there was a "search" for a new School Superintendent. All the final applicants had actual experience as Superintendents. I notice that none of the final candidates for the Sandwich Superintendent job have experience as a superintendent. In fact it appears that these people don't even meet the minimum requirements. It appears that this group and the low 21 applicants total indicates what people feared. That given the nearly year long poor performance of the School Committee and the effect on the district and the town, we did not get very good applicants.

    If you, school committee candidate, were on the committee at this point, would you think this pool of candidates is what the school and the town deserve considering the taxes we pay? Would you move forward with the hiring of a superintendent? Would you think it in the best interest of the town to hire a less qualified Superintendent that the previous past two? Would you consider the search result in the best interest of our schools and our community?

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  4. To Anon. 5:54: Thank you for your interest in the ongoing developments regarding the Superintendent of Schools position. I will give you my take on this situation.

    First, let me say that I have over 30 years experience in education and a desire to see excellence in our schools. I will begin this conversation with a brief account of my experience on the 2008 search committee here in Sandwich. I volunteered because I thought I had something to offer. There were 14 of us and I had never before met anyone in this group.

    Without hiring a private consultant(at a cost of 10k or more) to oversee the process and recruit candidates we had a pool of 28/29 candidates. In the process we submitted 3 finalists to the SC who were all ACTING superintendents. Also, many ACTING superintendents did not make the cut to be interviewed.

    Fast forward to 2011. The SC hires a group to recruit 21 candidates. Following the process, 4 finalists are announced - a pupil personell services director, a coordinator of testing and assessment, an elementary school principal, and an assistant superintendent.

    On March 15th, the Barnstable SC interviews 3 finalists for its superintendents position - all superintendents of schools in Massachusetts.

    The above factual information, and please correct me if I'm wrong, leads me to deduce that the Superintendent of Schools position in Sandwich was not attractive to many potential candidates. You can make your own assumptions as to why.

    In discussions with residents earlier this year I stated that the search process will be flawed if it proceeds without the Dr. Johnson situation being completely resolved.

    The bottom line is that I don't believe this process was in the best interests of our 3400 children and young adults we educate and the community as a whole.

    Thank you,
    Bob Catalini

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  7. Sherry,

    You have had a year of challenges as the chair. This School Committee has mostly spent their time working toward the goal of four members to hire someone to replace Dr. Johnson for the last year of the contract voted in April of 2010? What do you see as the goals for next year?

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  8. To all the candidates. It is said that 1/2 of the towns 8th graders are hoping to go to schools besides Sandwich High School. In addition students leave often at 5th and 7th grade. Given the increase in out of district assessment to the town over recent years, from $10,000 in 2004 I believe to and estimated 1.3 million in 2012, we see a trend growing that families are making decisions to leave the school district and those decisions are costing the town money. Please state a few measures you would like to see the district take to try and provide the level of services that motivate families to remain confident in the ability of Sandwich to educate their children?

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  9. disheartened teacherMarch 19, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    Candidates,
    What are your plans for rebuilding trust within the schools that has been broken into factions by the current school administration. These amount to at the least, major distractions from teaching and learning and at worst permanant scars to collegiality and trust, essential for teamwork.What steps will you take to insure all parties are honored and teachers do not feel threatened by disagreeing with adminstration ? What are you going to do to demand educational excellence from a new Superintendent and stop cronyism or the perception of it? How are you going to heal the wounds that are gaping in our schools and community to get us back on track to a positive and forward thinking atmosphere that supports student achievement and genuine collaboration through trust and honesty?

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  10. To anon. 10:41, please see my response to a similar question under" comments" section of my candidacy announcement. I also address this topic on my website.
    To "disheartened teacher", I won't pretend to have all the answers to your concerns. I will tell you that as a SC member I will commit to being objective and fair.
    Leadership, to me, is the key. Great leadership is necessary from the SC, Supt., and principals. But this is not only on them. Everyone in or connected with the system needs to view themselves as leaders and act accordingly.
    It vill take time and effort for healing and the return of trust. The most committed, most professional educators will put aside past differences
    and take the high road on behalf of the community. Some(and I'm hoping only a few) will never move on - that's the reality of the situation. The train moves on with or without them.
    Open and honest professional dialogue and exchange of ideas are paramount to the growth of our schools. This should be encouraged.
    As I look back over my own career I realize that there were highs and lows and rough times with low morale and squabbles. But those times seemed to make those of us who were committed step up and reach our potential as leaders.
    I wish you the best.

    Thank you,
    Bob Catalini

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  11. To all the school committee candidates. How can it be in the best interest of our school system to consider hiring a new Superintendent that is not nearly as qualified as the current one? If you were ever in this position, would you continue or change course and start a new search to fine better candidates?

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  12. disheartened teacherMarch 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Dear Mr. Catalini,
    thanks you for your thoughtful and insightful answer.You seem like a class act (no pun intended) I have read your online bio and am definitely interested to support you- and your lack of a spouse in the system (union or nonunion members, it's all self-interest who benefit from a contract even if dues aren't paid).You are right about the train and I hope to be a positive member. However, I hope it can get a conductort who is as "highly qualified" as all of the teachers have been held to and not just person who will do the least damage and politically favored- we need someone with vision, and the skills MEJ lacks that have created such rancor and division- management and people skills, and integrity.An Ivy League degree can't get you that- look at Wall Street. I looik forward to learning more about you and am impressed with what I have seen so far. Thanks for running- it really takes courage and sacrifice by your whole family.

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  14. Mr. Catalini, your colors are beginning to show. You know, Barnstable pays much more than Sandwich. Could that be the reason experienced superintendents don't apply. Even if they do apply, they are not always selected. The last time, the SC selected a superintendent there was no competion for the job and done by the Wednesday night surprise of a SC member that has now moved out of town. How 'bout them apples?

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  15. Mr Catalini stated the facts, he didn't chose sides, that is what we need, fact based analysis. We need to make sound decisions now. This is not a game of Gotcha. The future of our children education are at stake.

    Ed Wojciechowski

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  19. What will the candidates do to put our school system back in order? Here is the laundry list of my observations. Parents of students with special needs are unhappy. MEJ has not convinced the finance committee of any of the savings that she reports. Make sure you see the fire department's report on the school opening Sept 2009 i.e. possible fire code violations. MEJ on television ran from reporters rather than confront the topic, {leadership?} (science lesson debacle). She said the high school MCAS scores were great because the test is easier at that level (HMMM?), said class sizes were small (17-19) in the high school (anyone who enters the school can see that is not true). She continually defers to her predecessor of 3 years ago because of problems, (that was o.k. in the first year,) hired an Assistant and then fired her shortly thereafter while other districts decided to cut their assistants the preceding Spring, costing the town $165,000. Recently at the Selectmen's meeting she stated that she needed $300,000 + for mandated services. The chair, correctly, pointed out that she was obviously not going to cut legally mandated services and asked what would she cut. She then listed items that were not mandated services which begs the question; why did she say she needed it for mandated services if the chair of the selectmen and Ms. Johnson agree that she can not cut from mandated services? The selectmen said no and Ms. Johnson then went on to ask for $105,000 when the selectmen said no to that she asked for $60,000 +. They said no and she accepted the answer, finally. Must have gotten the budget wrong in January, I guess. Ms. Johnson is now, through her lawyer, attempting to stop the elected board from choosing a new superintendent and if they do not stop then she will sue our town, again. Let's remember the D.A. ruled against her, the Attorney General turned her down, and a Judge ruled against her on all counts, good thing this isn't baseball. The teachers who speak in support of her state that they are afraid to speak. I find that hard to believe since they continuously come up and speak. It makes me wonder, who is really afraid?

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  27. Mr. Ed W., I think you are correct when you write that we need to analyze and make up our minds. I have already. I was saving a vote for Mr. Catalini because he seems to 1) have a fresh prospective on school and board issues 2) wanted to vote for someone who would let us know in advance where they stood with the school superintendent issue. I would like to know how he would vote if and when Mary Ellen's contract once again comes up for a vote. My true hope is that he will tell us where he stands. Now I am not sure. I hope to vote for two candidates but will vote for one or none if I must. I simply won't vote for anyone that is not upfront.

    If the prior school committee had been upfront with the people of Sandwich when they voted her in, there might not have been the backlash. I writer on the side of this year's majority keeps on blaming the Guerin Simmons regime. He is correct in that they snuck her in and voted her at an illegal meeting, but he is not correct that Dr. Johnson should not be given the job.

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  29. Mr. Ed are you related to a teacher that MEJ hired? hmmm?

    Here is a question that needs to be answered by the candidates, for me. Will you, as a SC member, support the new Superintendent that will soon be chosen? or Will you support MEJ?

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  31. Interested ParentMarch 21, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Dear candidates--when my wife and me chose Sandwich as a place to raise our children, were were told over and over again that Sandwich had excellent schools. The debacle of the past year has certainly changed our views. I am very concrerned about lack of educational leadership among members of the School Committee and among members of the administration. I have very little confidence that Sandwich can ever be a visionary leader and, quite frankly, I don't view any of the current candidates as either visionary or leaders. Perhaps good managers but not real leaders. I may be wrong but there is little over the past year that inspires confidence. I simply cannot imagine towns that truly care about their schools would settle for what we have seen here of late or for these candidates. What will you do, in this time of declining enrollment and budgetary restrictions, to make Sandwich an educationational leader in the state and convince us to keep our families here rather than move to a place that gets this right?

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  32. First of all, the Wojciechowskis are friends of mine. We live in the same 'hood and our kids play together. I was not surprised that Ed attached his name to his post last night because he is a stand up guy. Keryn is a great and dedicated teacher - I have visited her classroom during the school day and know how hard she works - as a great number of teachers do for our community.
    To URL #1, how is Dr. Johnson's contract going to come up for a vote? It looks to me like the finalists are being interviewed this week with one of them to be offered a contract. The contract will be signed and we will have a new Supt. of Schools.
    I have stated in an earlier post that I believe the selection process is flawed and not in the best interests of our community. Regardless of that the process is moving forward as mandated by the SC.
    To "interested parent", your post, unfortunately, is spot on. To live in a town and have severe misgivings about its educational future is disheartening.
    Your question, "interested parent", at the end of your post is the 64k question. It really summarizes what I think our goal should be going forward.
    "What wil you do, in this time of declining enrollment and budgetary restrictions to make Sandwich an educational leader in the state and convince us to keep our families here rather than move to a place that gets this right?"
    Great journeys begin with simple steps. The first steps include having objective, independent, and knowledgeable leaders with no special interests. People you can trust and have confidence in.
    Next, we all have to put aside our differences, stop the blame game, and move forward collectively in pursuit of excellence. I do like the way you think - we can be an educational leader in the state!
    That's where I would start.

    Thanks,
    Bob Catalini

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  34. I send kis to sandwich schoolsMarch 22, 2011 at 6:20 AM

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  38. rESPONSE 2 bONNIE pt 1March 22, 2011 at 11:49 AM

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  39. rSPONSE 2 bONNIE pt 2March 22, 2011 at 12:01 PM

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  46. Candidates. According to the Cape Cod Times article this morning, no site visits to the town's of the Superintendent Candidates are planned and even though members of the School Committee meeting brought them up at the end of last night's interviews, the majority rejected the idea. If you were on the school committee how would you view the importance of site visits, which allow for interviewing teachers, citizens, parents, and local officials from the towns where the candidates currently work?

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  47. Why no site visits?March 23, 2011 at 8:56 AM

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  53. Hi, folks. We've run this thread so far off into the ditch that I'm going to delete all of the comments that are not questions for the candidates or answers from the candidates.

    There are plenty of other posts in the blog where you can rant about the school issues.

    Thanks.

    Randy

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  54. Susan SundermeyerMarch 23, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    Hello, everyone. I'm Susan Sundermeyer, and I'm running for a seat on the Sandwich School Committee. I hope you'll visit my web site (link on right sidebar; thank you, Randy) for more information about me.

    With >50 comments in this thread (though the number is falling as I type!), I'm going to take questions from the near-top and work down.

    To Anonymous from March 18 at 5:54:
    It does bother me that none of the finalists in the search for a new Superintendent has experience as a Superintendent. It also struck me that some of the interview questions were not especially rigorous. I share the concerns of many people in town that this search process is seriously flawed, and that going ahead with it is not the best course of action.

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  55. Susan SundermeyerMarch 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM

    To Anon of March 19th, 10:41 AM:

    The first, most immediate step we can take to keep children in our school system is to govern the schools thoughtfully, credibly, and cooperatively. I think to accomplish that, a change in School Committee membership is in order.

    That said, I think we could learn a lot simply by asking parents why they decided to continue their children's education in other schools. I don't begrudge anyone the best educational fit for their child, but as you say, the marked increase in departures is worth investigating. "Exit interviews" could shed some light, if belatedly.

    I would also want to get the thoughts of parents on the cusp of that decision, in, say, grade 6 or 7. What are these families looking for as they look toward high school? Are they correct in thinking it might not be found within the district, or do we have a P.R. problem? What have other schools got that we don't? Talking with families earlier on would give a window into that thought process.

    It's a start.

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  56. To disheartened teacher of March 19, 3:48 PM:

    A lot of people ask why on Earth I'd even want a seat on the School Committee in Sandwich. That things seem so bad that I'm asked this is precisely one of the reasons I decided to run. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world," said Ghandi, and I can't sit and watch things get worse and worse.

    No one person is going to heal the wounds that are gaping in our schools and community. It will take everyone's help -- administrators, parents, teachers, authors of opinion columns, everyone. We will all need to live up to the best that Sandwich can be.

    Trust is rebuilt by being trustworthy. I'm prepared to step up to the School Committee table and do my part.

    I hope we can all be feeling less disheartened very soon.

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  57. watching the wavesMarch 24, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    As a parent who will be sending their child to a high school other than Sandwich High, I'll give you my reasons.

    1. As I see it SHS doesn't prepare those kids that aren't going to college for a life outside of high school. Too much of the SHS focus is on those kids going on to further education and making sure that "we" look good when they get there, can read, write etc. Which if the system was doing what it should throughout our kids 12 years, we wouldn't be constantly talking about literacy programs at the HS level. More importance is placed on what are MCAS numbers are and what our graduation rate is, then preparing all our high school students for life after 12th grade. As a result a lot of kids there are falling through the cracks, and aren't going anywhere when they graduate.
    2. The Upper Cape Tech is a fantastic school. Ironically when I was kid the tech school is where the students that weren't going to college would go to high school, and started great jobs after school, and ultimately some great business enterprises. Now it's a competition to get in, the end result being a waiting list each year, so the kids that should be going there, to learn a skill for after HS, because they don't plan on going to college, can't get in because their grades are "average".
    4. Sturgis is a great school with some incredible programs.
    5. The private/catholic high schools, for those that can afford them are fantastic.
    3. Should an additional analysis be done of students that graduated from SHS (say the last 5 yrs.) and what type of work/schooling they are currently involved in? How many have had visits to the court houses, because they aren't doing anything? Maybe this would give us a better idea what prepraration kids should be getting in high school.
    Thank you in advance for your responses.

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  58. To all school committee candidates-

    If you get on the board and you do not care for the way the chairman makes decisions, will you chastize them in public or will you speak with them woman to woman?

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  59. Susan,
    I appreciate you stepping up to the plate. What do you know about Blue Ribbon schools and how would you support Sandwich in reaching that status? I look forward to meeting you next week.

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  60. Thank you Sue for your answers. Good to see you on board. Thank you Randy for getting us back on track.

    Candidates: It seems quite clear that there is no real working relationship between the School Committee and the other policy and budget boards in town. Do you think it is important that the School Committee find ways to be effective in working with other complimentary boards? Or do you think that given it's legal mandate the school committee should be more isolated?

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  61. High School ParentMarch 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    To all the Candidates, If there is disagreement on the school committee about extremely important issues or timing for decisions, what would you hope for as a remedy? Would the most important thing in terms of deciding a way forward be a majority vote?

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  62. Carl Johansen would ask ,

    If you were on the present board and was faced with the revolations in regards to two of the four canidates brought forward by a steering committee, would you ask for a new superintendant search?

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen in Sandwich

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  63. Susan SundermeyerMarch 24, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    @Anonymous from March 20, 8:46 AM:

    I don't think a new search would bring forth better candidates if it were conducted before Dr. Johnson's appeal process is resolved. To me, a change of course worth discussing would be a compromise proposal (one possibility: work with Dr. Johnson for the short term, resolve the legal questions, then move on, either with her or with a search conducted from a position of stability), rather than an immediate repeat search with likelihood of similar or even less satisfactory results. Candidates do their homework; it's not likely we'd find a previously unknown shining star suddenly willing to apply now, if a month ago s/he was not. Also, these searches use many, many volunteer hours, and incur the consultant's fee for guiding the process. I would not undertake it again lightly or out of spite.

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  64. Mr Hunt,
    Thanks for getting this section back to its original intent. I will attempt to get caught up with recent questions posed to SC candidates.
    I do believe in site visits with the exception of traveling great distances. In that case one may use videoconferencing, skyping, phone interviews, or have a neutral advocate from that area pinch hit for the SC. It is important though to make sure that some of the people interviewed be selected at random so as to insure a candid view of the candidate.
    To "watching the waves", thanks for your personal views regarding high school choices. It would be beneficial to conduct exit interviews with SHS students at graduation with a 5 year follow up as well. It would be pretty simple to do with modern technology and would shed some light on your concerns. I agree that college isn't for everyone and neither is tech school. Those students who choose work, travel, or the military do need to have a certain skill set.
    I view town boards working together and having respectful relations and dialogue a must. As a taxpayer I want to know that no board is an island.
    Regarding the SC tacking important issues and the discussion of those issues it is important to keep in mind that a sense of respect and proper decorum needs to be in place. Differences of opinion shouldn't be considered "personal", but rather a means to an end. With objective people you can build a consensus - that would be my goal.
    Finally, to Mr. Johansen, I have stated in earlier posts that, in my opinion, the search was flawed from the beginning. In an above post, Susan Sundermeyer expresses her thoughts on the topic that I wholeheartedly agree with. It's extremely difficult to do good work when you've painted yourself into a corner.

    Thank you,
    Bob Catalini

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  65. To the Candidates
    I am would like to know why you think the search was flawed?

    One candidate said that we did not have enough applicants but the Boston Globe reported this week that Waltham had 26 applicants for their superintendency. We had 21. I think that is comparable considering the two towns. What are your thoughts?

    Do any candidates really think that anyone will apply if we continue to support Dr. Johnson and her lawsuits? Her appeal could take years. It is not a matter of months.

    I wonder are the candidates advocating giving MEJ a contract if the search is sabotaged?

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  66. Candidates, Now that the School Committee has called a new Superintendent, pending contract negotiations, what do you see as the three top items on the "to do" list come reorganization of the committee following local elections?

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  67. Congratulations to Dr. C. Richard Canfield on his selection as the Superintendent of Schools for the town of Sandwich.
    Kudos to the School Committee for recognizing his leadership and their unanimous vote of confidence.
    Much appreciation to Dr. Mary Ellen Johnson for her gracious email this morning to the school staff thanking them for their efforts and her welcoming remarks to Dr. Canfield.
    There is now positive energy to build on going forward as we focus on providing the best education for the 3400 children and young adults of Sandwich.
    To "parent taxpayer", I believe an assessment of the schools by Dr. Canfield in collaboration with the SC and staff will provide an initial "to do" list. It will be interesting to see this take shape as well as his "entry plan".
    I have my own personal thoughts but I believe a cooperative evaluation is foremost. It is "we time", not "me time".
    I hope everyone shares some of the excitement I feel about this new beginning.

    Thank you,
    Bob Catalini

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  68. Question to all Candidates: After the election, there will be some lag time between Dr. Johnson's leaving and Dr. Canfield beginning his job. Is there anything you would like to see under new business?

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  69. Susan SundermeyerMarch 26, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Hello again everyone. Trying to keep pace here; thanks for your patience.

    @Talking Turtle, and in general: I am delighted to see that the best qualified candidate was selected as our next Superintendent, and would, respectfully, like to set aside discussion of the search process in favor of moving forward.

    @parent taxpayer:
    I appreciate the forward-looking nature of your question. At the risk of appearing to dodge it, I'll say it needs to be answered collaboratively. I do not have a personal agenda to ram through, and I'm not running to play "gotcha" with other committee members.

    I'd like the newly constituted School Committee to help Dr. Canfield get to know our school district and our town government, and to work with him and with teachers, parents, administrators and members of the other municipal boards on the to do list for the coming year and beyond. We have much to do. If elected, I'm going to be a team player in the effort.

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  70. watching the wavesMarch 26, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    After contacting the dept. of education in Malden in particular the Humanities Division, I was informed there is NO state requirement for 7th and 8th graders to take a foreign language (French, Spanish and Latin). This curriculm decision is solely at the town level. So my question to the candidates is can we offer, to the 7th and 8th graders, an alternative to being made to take a foreign language, which the majority of kids will never use? An additional study hall similar to what the SPED kids get would be great! This would help kids with extra help and enable them to keep there grades up, especially as so many are trying to get into alternatives other than SHS which require good grade ie. tech school. Added benefit no additional language teachers needed.

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  71. Watching the waves - I agree with you. We have a huge problem in Sandwich regarding kids being pushed into a foreign language when they would be better served in a STRUCURED academic support class. This applies to students at Sandwich High School as well. Contact the Director of Pupil Services and voice your concern. Change will only happen people are concerned enough to pick up the phone.

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  72. Susan SundermeyerMarch 26, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    @watching the waves, from March 24 6:42 -

    Thank you for that post. I think an analysis of graduates' status at 5 years out is a terrific idea, and, as Bob said, quite feasible.

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  73. @Anonymous of March 24, 6:52 -

    I think we're all looking forward to more professional behavior around the School Committee table. I will do my part to make it so.

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  74. @Bonnie from March 24, 6:59 AM:

    Thank you. I look forward to meeting you as well.

    The Blue Ribbon School program is a way for the U.S. Department of Education to honor highly performing and/or highly improved public and private schools. It's my understanding that the process begins with a self-assessment. I don't yet know the specifics, but I will learn them.

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  75. @taxpayer parent from March 24, 7:13 AM:

    It is one of my specific goals, if elected, to improve working relationships between the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee.

    The School Committee legally has autonomous and absolute authority over education, but it is certainly part of town government. I think mutual respect and trust between the other boards in town is critical, particularly during the budget process. How is that established? A first step, I think, is to show up to some meetings, and not just when we're on the agenda. We should never hear "if only someone from the school committee were here to address [whatever]." Of course it's not possible to attend every meeting of every board in town, but I think as a School Committee member, it would be a good idea to at least drop by the BOS and FinCom every so often.

    The School Department represents a tremendous portion of the town budget as a whole. I think we owe it to the "town side" (in quotes because I've so often heard it put that way; it really needn't be so) to show up and pay attention and develop an understanding of what goes on there, as well.

    We are all Sandwich.

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  76. @High School Parent from March 24, 12:20 PM:

    It is a stated duty and obligation of each individual Sandwich School Committee member to accept and abide by the will of the majority vote in all cases. I'm sure it can be frustrating -- at times it's been frustrating to watch -- but that's the way it works.

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  77. Parent and taxpayerMarch 28, 2011 at 7:57 AM

    Sue, you might want to take a look at the oath of office for School Committee. It is in fact the same oath of office for all town officials. While I understand your personal value statement regarding a majority vote, I think the word "duty" may not be appropriate. It implies that a minority view must be dropped because of the vote. Be sure and brush up on Robert's Rules of Order. Abide is inevitable if there is not reconsideration of the vote. But forcing members to change a point of view because of the vote might not be appropriate to think possible. Nice and clean if it were that simple, but ultimately each member takes an oath to act within what they consider the best interest of the town through their job on a board. Board work is unique and challenging.

    I read the question as what would you do to promote an atmosphere on the board that does not rely just on a majority vote kind of power play approach for solving major problems and issues.

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  78. Susan SundermeyerMarch 28, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    @Parent and taxpayer,

    One of the first things I did after submitting my nomination papers was to ask the Town Clerk for a copy of the oath of office. Of course I can't lay my hands on it now... grrr. But what he gave me says, basically, "I promise to faithfully execute the duties of the office to which I've been elected, to the best of my ability," or something very similar. I had heard that the "best interests of the town" were in the oath -- indeed, it's what I'd been looking for, probably to make precisely the point you're getting at -- but that phrase was not part of the version I received. He said there are a few different ones they can use.

    The word "duty" as I used it comes straight from the Sandwich Public Schools Policy Manual. There are ten "duties and obligations of the individual committee member" listed, and number seven is "To accept the will of the majority vote in all cases."

    As to forcing members to change a point of view - that's not what I meant, even if it were possible. Having a minority opinion but having to accept the will of the majority doesn't mean you no longer have your opinion.

    The challenge lies in crafting proposals that, when possible, incorporate the best of the points of view around the table, so that the votes aren't reflexive, and the dynamic of whatever-you-say-I'll-say-the-opposite doesn't become entrenched. Not simple at all, I agree.

    Finally, yes, I'll definitely brush up on Robert's Rules. I know that as a newcomer I have much to learn, but if elected, I will not bungle meetings for lack of knowing how they're supposed to proceed. I'd be plain mortified, for one thing.

    Thanks for responding. I hope to meet you in person sometime soon.

    Sue

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  79. Carl Johansen would state that together, we can do what has not been done all year.

    It is great to see two members from our community showing the detication to the healing process we so badly need here in Sandwich.

    What do you both think about allowing more give and take at public forum?
    Understanding the efficiency of not allowing reponces from the school board members, perhaps given all of this years turmoil it could be a way to interact more with the community in a positive way

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  80. Ms. Sundermeyer,

    The penultimate paragraph of your last post says it all. It was well thought out and well put. I must surely comment that you will make mistakes about procedure in the beginning, but if your answers to questions are a judgement of how you will be as a committee candidate, then I think you will do just fine. Please, please, don't get caught up in procedure; what is important are your thoughts, reactions, ability to work with others. Good Luck.

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  81. @Carl Johansen and Prospero -- Thank you for the kind words.

    Mr. Johansen, I am of two minds on the public forum give-and-take. On one hand, the public forum experience as it is now is unsatisfying at best. A member of the public has no idea if she's been heard or understood, let alone whether there will be any follow-up to her input. On the other, out of respect for everyone's time, it is better if meetings don't stray long or far from their intended course, which could easily happen if the forum were to become a conversation with everyone who stepped up to the mic.

    As with most things, I think there is probably some middle ground.

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  82. Carl Johansen would ask all canadates, once you become settled into the committee position, would you make yourself avaiable to learn the proper decorum in conducting a school board meeting? Would you educate yourself to open meeting law and the first amendment rights of those that do speak at public forum?

    These issues have been brought up during the past years with out any resolution for some and it is important for every one to be on the same page and have a basic understanding of the laws that govern such meetings.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen of Sandwich

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  83. I have been away from this blog for a bit, my apologies. I will check in daily and respond to all queries.

    In response to Mr. Johansen's most recent post I would have an expectation that any new SC member would have an obligation to be properly trained in order to fulfill their duty to the stakeholders.

    Regarding the public forum portion of SC meetings, I agree with Sue that there is a low level of satisfaction as presently constructed. I believe the "forum" needs to be reviewed.

    It is not practical or possible for some people to attend meetings/forums. However, they may have pertinent questions regarding policy, the budget, etc. An online portal, with questions answered publicly, would be an upgrade in terms of communication and transparency.

    In closing, I am truly enjoying the campaign, the people I've met, and the ongoing dialogue with residents. Thanks.

    Bob Catalini

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  84. Hi Mr. Catalini,

    I like the fact that you are one of the few in this town that seems to understand that open forum does not work. People are sometimes not given time to present their arguments. Three minutes is not sufficient time for some of the matters brought forth.

    I am not sure that a public protal follows the open meeting concept. Not everyone has the time to go online everyday and some do not even have a computer. I feel that I personally would like to see the portal idea, I am not convinced it meets the legal test. If it does, go for it.

    Mr. Johansen is one person who is adept at using the open forum and knows what is and is not acceptable. I suggest you ask him for his thoughts. They are usually right on the mark.

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  85. Last I heard Taylor White was the Town Clerk, not Carl Johannsen- let's defer all questons about Open Meeting to him- he sure set things in motion by doing his job to the letter of the law with respect to the School Committee debacle with the former chair not following Open Meeting laws.

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  86. Carl Johansen stated, Good Evening Mr. Hunt.
    Apparently you posted a comment from 1011 that has no question for the canidates running for school committee.
    Better yet they do not even understand the original question that was asked and answered. The question was about Public Forum, not open meeting laws. No wonder we have so many conflicted and confused individuals who attempt to hi jack the threads or subject matter being discussed. perhaps you may find it better to remove that post,and mine. as it does not have any relative bearing to the original question asked? It also failes to meet the title that this subject matter was addressing and that was asking questions of those running for school committee. What say yee, grand wizzard of this blog?

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  87. Randy, perhaps you should make Mr. Johansen the referee of the blog as he seems to be quite condescending to those of us who do not, but are trying, to understand town government. No wonder my friends refuse to vote or to go to town meeting.

    My question to the candidates is: Do you think that those running for office should be speaking with the Superintendent (lame duck)about the committee on the town's time when she is not in her office.

    Randy, I hope this meets with Mr. Johansen's satisfaction as being a question, and yours as well. Thank you.

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  88. Susan SundermeyerApril 25, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Hello, 1011.

    I think that those running for office should be speaking with everyone they can make time for, to be as well-informed about school issues as they possibly can. I'm spending a lot of my time that way these days. It is important to me to do a good job. Thank you for noticing!

    Sue Sundermeyer

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  89. Thank you for your response. I am quite concerned that anyone would be going out to meet the superintendent when she is working on our dime. I believe it would be fine to meet at her office, but not in a restaurant on the public's dime.

    1011

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  90. 5:47, Who said it was the public's dime?

    Do you have any facts, or are you just inferring that the School Department paid for lunch?

    The job of Superintendent of Schools is not like the position of Stop & Shop deli clerk -- you don't punch in and punch out. I think we can all be pretty sure that we got a full week's work out of the Superintendent that week!

    Thank you to both Sue & Dr. Johnson for actually discussing the issues -- it would be helpful if more candidates had gained an understanding of the position before they were elected.

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  91. Actually it was not Ms. Sundermeyer. My concern is that someone would be taking the town's time and dime and talking to a candidate not in the office but outside. It takes up more time while the person is being paid. If you think this is good, then you like what is going on in the state.

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  92. The most concerned of citizens and a first amendment warriorApril 27, 2011 at 7:17 PM

    Are you in favor of the next chair of the School Board to suggest that maybe the time for giving gifts and doing a dog and poney show should be left after the election rather than at open mic? Just as an aside, Charlie, I win the $20 bet, I told you there would be a show tonight and I told you who would put in on. Was I corret?

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  93. You were correct, not corret, and yes, you win the bet. How about next Monday at 1:00 PM at our favorite coffee spot.

    I just saw Mr. Catalini and Ms. Sundermeyer on cable. Quite clearly they understand that open forum is broken, but as Ms. Sundermeyer stated, there is no real way to fix it.

    My question to them is would you consider disambiguating the meaning and reason for open forum and suggest that maybe it should not be used as a continuous sounding board as much as it should be used to communicate information that can not be given in another forum?

    Another question is, is there a need to have open forum or could we just have a citizen speak of concerns they have about the business of the boards?

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  94. New majority hurts the childrenMay 12, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    Unfortunately I was working last night and missed the SC meeting. I did read about it in the CCT. Clearly the new members of the committee voted, just as I had predicted, in lock step with the new majority that they set up by their vote. I saw their signs together during the campaign, I saw them together during the campaign. I watched to whom they spoke with in public and knew that they were with the new majority. I don't think they are impartial.

    The voters clearly spoke and they are in office.
    Hopefully, they will vote to protect the town and through that protection the children. Feeding into Mary Ellen Johnson's defense does not help the children.

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