So Much More At Stake Than Just Our Schools

By Mike Flaherty | Jul 20, 2012

 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,


Speaking for myself only...

 

For some time now I have been pondering writing something about the upcomming special election.  Each time I try, I couldn't get past the first sentence or two.  I want to express so many things but at the end of the day I want people to understand that your vote at the special election is for SO much more than just our schools.  There is SO much more at stake than that.

Then LTIRISH, inspired me with this...


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LTIRISH wrote:


Therefore, the Town of Wareham/WPS pays for students to attend ORR, to attend school in Plymouth, to attend school in Middelboro etc.  There is a mass exodus of students from WPS but the town does pay for enrollment in other public school systems.  I will opt for this before I pay for private school.  I am a tax payer and my child deserves her "free" education.  It would be ashame that she may not receive this in her town with wonderful teachers.  My choice to leave will depend on the class size and the number of behavioral and educational issues which will arise because of the cuts in teachers and resources.  I hope those voting "no" are as fearful, tearful and broken as I feel.  A "no" vote for me means that I no longer am a citizen of the town, I'm a resident.  I'll educate my child elsewhere, I'll no longer donate my funds or goods to the town, I'll enjoy the surrounding towns recreational activities, beaches and hospitality.  Wareham will be a place we lay our head until we decide to cut our losses and move.  Eight years ago we were filled with hope and anticipation for a town and house that we thought we'd spend our entire lives in.
====================================================

 

I know LTIRISH.  She is one of Wareham's real DOers - for now.  And we can't afford to lose any DOers - especially ones like her.

These ballot questions are about all of us.  They are about our whole community.  Yes, OUR COMMUNITY!!!

The School Committee did in fact WORK with sooo many people collaboratively to simply bring the issues to the people - ALL PEOPLE.  Much of that work was before I was elected, but I decidedly supported the effort from the beginning (i.e. cut the budget immensely to balance it and put faith in the community to add it back).


This took tremendous collaboration with the FinCom, the former TA, and the BOS.  They bought into letting the voters decide these questions.  Even if they might consider individually voting against them at the ballot box, they weren't going to stand in the way of the process.  With one notable exception, it was actually heartwarming to see how all of this actually brought the community together.


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As Donna Bronk put it in a quote from another article:

"I believe that the town can use this crisis as an opportunity, and the School Department and the town can come together. ... We're all in this together and we have to make sacrifices," she said. "If our schools go down, our property values go down. It's happening already and it will continue."
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Here! Here!  Mrs. Bronk!

 

Everyone says this is what they want - that we should all come together and work together.  My friends and neighbors, it is staring you all right in the face.  This is a special time in our history and that is exactly what you have right now!


As I said at the beginning,  I want to convey to you how the ballot questions are more about our whole community and not just the schools.  I will use this blog post to share with you and reflect on what I have seen since joining the School Committee.  I want to share with you the very real impact your vote will have on some very real people, with some very real names, and they're not all students.

Comments (63)
Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 20, 2012 17:39

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Spherebreaker wrote:


It's about telling the teachers that would not have been here without stimulus money, thank you very much and have a nice day. It's about telling the teachers unions NO and get their butts to teaching or they will be gone too.
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I took particular offense to this post.  I have to say it is probably the most heartless thing I've read on the blogs - and that's saying something.  Though I'm not surprised at all that it came from someone hiding behind an anonymous name.


Normally, I wouldn't dignify it, but Sherebreaker actually provides a good opportunity to highlight what a treasure Wareham's teachers are.


The truth is that the beeginning of this past school year began with at least 8 less teachers than the previous year.  They were all laid off.


On top of that for the same year Wareham teacher's union acctually negotiated a ZERO PERCENT increase in their salary.  Zero, as in "nothing", "zippo".

 

Spherebraker, the teachers in Wareham have taken much more than just "one for the team".  The teachers in this town have repeatedly stepped up and walked-the-walk!

 

I tell you what, Spherebreaker, click the link below and take the 5 minutes to watch the clip of Chris Mars of the Teacher's Union list the sacrifices that the teachers in Wareham have made and continue to make under the "devastation" that she hasn't seen in her 29 years of service and the impact it has had in the classroom - then feel free to revise your statement.  For what it's worth,



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzuiOGhHmjo

 



Posted by: warehamparent | Jul 20, 2012 20:15

I am a parent who is struggling with this vote.  I do see the dedication and hard work of teachers in all of our schools.  I really feel that they are taking the brunt of this budget crisis.  Why does it always have to come down to losing teachers?  Why must we have instructional leaders in the middle school?  At the HS they are called department heads and they do a variety of jobs during the day, including teaching.  Why are we paying so much for these IL's at the MS?  Why are we even talking about a new sport at the HS?  Who cares who is paying for it or if it is free, shouldn't we be putting all our resources into handling this budget crisis?  I think it is extremely difficult to explain to the average taxpayer the everyday issues that are dealt with at the schools; the homeless kids, the special needs of many, the pitiful lack of parent support, the embarrassing state of technology at our schools, the list goes on and on. The school department, like other town departments, is at the mercy of rising costs, most of all health care. So at the end of the day it's the kids who are the end users of the school system, and they are the ones who will suffer.  I will vote for the override, but I will remain as involved as possible, making sure that the money is spent as it was intended.

Mike, thank you for starting the conversation.  We are all in this together. 



Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 20, 2012 21:19

Where is the compassion for the private sector? With only 1 out of 5 years going to the teachers and the schools it is more than obvious the rest will go to pay the two highest salaries in Wareham - the Police Chief and yes, the Superintendent. How exactly is any tax payer supposed to vote yes to this? The economic reality is that there is no more blood from the proverbial stone. It gets no simpler than that!



Posted by: SGT | Jul 20, 2012 21:38

How did we get to this point?  When property values were going up, the town increased the valuations and the tax revenue went up.  We, the town government, always say we are broke.  Yet they find money for land purchases, building purchases and other weird and fanciful items.  We have superintendent of schools who has never seen a pay raise he didn't like, but tells us the schools don't have money to buy paper.  What is the upshot to all this?  Mismanage the money in whatever area and then tell the townspeople that we need to cut essential services so they will pony up more money.  Stop with the scare tactics.  This is for our children's education; this is a safety issue(remember the picture of the electrical panel at the sewage treatment plant.  A panel in a room where corrosive chemicals were stored.  Who let the panel get to this state of disrepair?  When it started to degrade did anyone think to scrape, sand and paint it?  Of course not.  Let it get into a complete state of corrosion where the town will pay for a new one.  Way to manage resources); this is for our future; this is for our seniors, etc., ad nauseum.  They superintendent has allowed the schools to get to this point.  He can't manage well.  Fire him and get someone who can.  In the meanwhile, the schools will have to do with what they have.  A new text book isn't going to make them study and more.  New computers aren't going to get them to read.  I see a great many children with cell phones and I can't help but think that they could spend the money on a computer and assist themselves in getting the educational benefits that everyone thinks they will derive from new computers in the school.  We pump money into them and get a lousy graduation rate and bad test scores.  More money will surely not fix that.

I won't vote for any override until this town and the school department can show me that they have done the best job they can in managing the revenues they are getting now.  It is a big problem with governments big and small, that they spend and spend, and when they get into trouble they scare the citizens into voting for more taxes which they then find more and fanciful ways to spend.  If you don't think so look at the 14 TRILLION DOLLAR debt our 'elected representatives' have placed on us.  More taxes to fix that problem, too.

Voting for these overrides is just a way to reward poor management and governance of our community.  We have begun to get out of office those who assisted in putting us in this position.  If you are to vote on anything, vote out the people who put us in the spot.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jul 21, 2012 11:06

Mike mentioned in his comment above that the ballot questions are more about the whole community than just the schools...he's got quite a point there. If the override funding is approved on Wednesday, only the first year of increased tax revenues will go to the schools, thereafter the increased tax revenues will go to the town. Will Wareham's town government (faced with it's own financial crisis) generously increase the school budget by the amount of increased tax revenue in the years that follow? Or will town government use that increased revenue to address some of the town's multiple financial needs?

If the override passes this year and teachers positions are saved for one year, what will save the positions in the following years? More overrides? Funding from the also severely cash-strapped Federal and/or state governments? A grant from as yet unidentified sources?



Posted by: sadie | Jul 21, 2012 11:33

WE ARE NOT THE ONLY TOWN GOING THROUGH THIS MESS!!!!! This isn’t just Wareham’s problem town and cities across the country are facing the same problem.

I don’t have children in the school system anymore but I am more than happy to help the young people who are attending our schools. Our kids deserve a good education. The state and country are going through tough times this is a five year to help our community, this will benefit all of us.

Mike even though I am going to vote for this I do think the school department should be aggressive in eliminating upper management jobs. Every dept in town has been cut to bare bones, it is time for the school dept to suck it up and make drastic cuts and I don’t mean the teachers.  I don’t know if the board has any input into these matters but is something that should be discussed. This problem isn’t going to go away until they make some serious cuts in upper management.



Posted by: deanmartin | Jul 21, 2012 12:20

Mike:

All I can say is I'm glad I didn't vote for you. This is your solution - another sob story? How about stepping up to the plate with a real plan? The school system needs to live with a real budget not just come with their hand out constantly. Administrator and instructional positions need to be cut. The school superintendent needs to be fired for his mismanagement. As for the teachers not getting a raise - boo hoo. I work in private education and three years ago my pay got cut 10% and my retirement was completely eliminated. I haven't gotten any of that back yet and I won't until things turn around. That is the way things are handled in the private sector and nobody cries about it. Times are tough and everybody has to share the pain including public employees. I can't afford any new taxes and neither can the majority of the citizens in Wareham. For those with kids who don't like the school system let them move - they only cost the town money. What we need are more retirees and summer residents who pay taxes but don't drain the public coffers.

 

 



Posted by: resident | Jul 21, 2012 14:12

Dean I can't agree more.... As for Sadie, this is not a five year plan..... this is a  forever tax. Stop letting the debt exclusion tactic fog your judgement. If all passes the schools get the money this year and thats it. Then next year we are faced with the same problem. They have already robbed the healthcare fund for a band aid last year against the recommendation or the DOR. This year a 2 1/2 over ride. God forbid this passes what next ? Time to make the tough choices and move on.



Posted by: sadie | Jul 21, 2012 17:15

Resident what tough choices do you recommend? On the town side they really have cut every dept to the bone. I guess you could close the library like some communities have done.

On the school side I do think upper management has to be cut, but will that be enough money? Maybe we could eliminate the alternative school, is that something that you want to see happen? How are we going to pay to fix and maintain the schools?

 

Sgt made a good point why do we let things get into such disrepair. Why not fix things with a small fix instead of waiting until things completely fall apart.

 

Maybe we should think about going more high tech. Why can’t some of the kids take their classes online this would cut down class size and the need for so many buses?

I do understand that the override is a forever tax but things may be tough for the next five years or even longer



Posted by: SGT | Jul 21, 2012 21:06

In regards to Sadie's comments.  If she is so much in favor of the schools getting more money, I stand by my comment - WRITE A CHECK.

I am tired of people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates et al, who feel that we should pay more in taxes.  WRITE A CHECK Warren.  The Federal Government can blow away a $1,000,000,000 in a heartbeat and then come with their hand out looking for more.  The town is no different.  Anyone for taking property at Swift's Beach?  How about buying another Tremont Nail money pit?

No disrespect intended Sadie, but volunteer at the schools, donate equipment, write them a check and I can guarantee that they will be here with their hand out next year.

If you recall that they had lost the $800,000+ from the State and the Town ponied up $400,000+ so we wouldn't have to cut teaching staff.  (Not admin positions, just teachers.  I guess they make the big bucks, so they have the greatest budget impact).  Then the Feds gave the town and $800,000 unfenced grant.  The town in all its benevolence decided to let the school department have the money OFF BUDGET.  They still want more.  Enough is enough.  I do not care if the rest of the state has budget problems and wants to vote for overrides, I DO NOT.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 22, 2012 10:16

 

Wareham's Unique Challenges


When I started this blog article, I didn't expect to change anyone's mind on the issue.  This has been discussed for many months and people's minds are pretty much made up one way or another.  All I can do at this point is use the opportunity to help remind people about the tremendous impact that their vote is going to have during this election and motivate them to get out and vote.


Let me let you in on a little secret.  With regard to taxes, my personal politics are very conservative (on other issues like the environment, not so much).  On taxes, I'm probably more conservative than the vast majority of those who oppose these ballot questions.  How conservative?  I would put myself somewhere to the right of the Cato Institute.  Those who consider themselves conservatives would understand what that means. 


In short, I live by the axiom that no society has ever taxed itself into prosperity.  So, you should know that I didn't come to my support of the override/debt exclusions lightly.  As I said, during the election, I don't just hate taxes, I disdain them for many of the reasons you do - distrust of government to spend them wisely.


HOWEVER, I also recognize that it takes a certain amount of revenue to run any town or city.  We are either funding our town adequately or we are not.  And what I see is regardless of years and years of cutting services by the Town and Schools, the Finance Committee tells us that we do not have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.  I consider the Finance Committee a professional, diverse, and knowledgeable board of my fellow neighbors living through this pain.  So I put much stock in their findings and opinions. 


I am optimistic that with our new CEDA Director that we will start to leverage what Wareham has to offer and start making money on it, but let's face it any revenue from added business won't bear any meaningful fruit for at least 2 years.


So I have another secret for you, though it is the worst kept one in the town:  This is not the Wareham that you grew up in.  In fact it isn't even nearly the same Wareham I moved to in 2004. 


Our schools have seen high increases in the enrollment of students requiring special education - and it costs a lot of money to educate those students (think unfunded mandates).  At the same time we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch.  In the Decas School, for example, 54% of those who attend school there are on free/reduced lunch.  It is a very sensitive issue, and it is a situation that just about any one of us could find ourselves in.  It isn't just the single parent or those struggling with substance abuse.  I can tell you right now that if I lost my job next week (a very real possibility these days), then I could very well find myself in the same category very quickly.  Nonetheless it is something that the town and schools HAVE to deal with openly, candidly, and maturely.


To that end, if you do nothing else, I encourage you to take 10 minutes to watch the YouTube video at the link below.  There you will hear the principal of the John W. Decas Elementary School explain how that school has seen trmendous gains in educating those with special needs.  You will also hear her say how those gains (and more) are absolutely in jeopardy if the override doesn't go through. 


You will also hear her say what everyone else is afraid to. 


If you are one of those who think that "Response to Intervention" (RTI) consists of useless middle-managment, then please listen to Mrs. Panarese - and think again!

 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb178ZM3yJ8



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 22, 2012 10:24

All I can say is that I agree 100% with SGT. Although it will be near pennies, I am tired of the mismanagement (and undeserved raises) of administration. And what tops it off the most is that I would guess that the Wareham Teacher's Contract that is in negotiation for this year will show NO salary increases for those in the trenches. Way to go Super. You certainly are Super....super selfish for taking a raise when you KNEW we were going to suffer a financial situation for the schools. Just another "cover up" of the truth... familiar pattern. Makes me sad.



Posted by: sadie | Jul 22, 2012 11:19

SGT we are going to have to agree to disagree. I respect your opinions, you are right about all the wasteful spending but should the children suffer because someone makes wrong choices. I struggled with this decision and it all comes down to the children and being able to provide them with a decent education.

 You are right they were in deep trouble last year and the year before and it bothers me that they did not come up with ANY solutions. I think if they had cut some of the management positions the community would have thought they were at least trying to get things under control.

 I have always thought the Tremont Nail Factory was a TOTAL waste of money. Maybe the town could put it up for sale and try and recoup some of the money that has been wasted on this building.



Posted by: sadie | Jul 22, 2012 11:30

SGT we are going to have to agree to disagree. I respect your opinions, you are right about all the wasteful spending but should the children suffer because someone makes wrong choices. I struggled with this decision and it all comes down to the children and being able to provide them with a decent education.

 You are right they were in deep trouble last year and the year before and it bothers me that they did not come up with ANY solutions. I think if they had cut some of the management positions the community would have thought they were at least trying to get things under control.

 I have always thought the Tremont Nail Factory was a TOTAL waste of money. Maybe the town could put it up for sale and try and recoup some of the money that has been wasted on this building.



Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 22, 2012 13:08

Thus far Mr Flaherty has not addressed the position the School Department will be in next year.  This is perhaps because he believes the "Finance Committee" when they say that this Town does "not have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem".  For a professed conservative Mr Flaherty you obviously are having trouble recognizing either.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 22, 2012 19:47

Hi Mike... I'm not quote sure what you mean when you say there's so much more at stake than just our schools.  I believe  the proposed overrides/debt exclusions are for the schools and education, at least that's how it's being presented.  I think it muddies the waters to add in that 54% of the children at a certain school qualify for 'free' /reduced priced,lunches.  Is this coming out of the education budget?  Also, lunches aren't free.  They are being paid for by the taxpayers.

Also, you report a high increase in enrollment of children with special needs and unfunded  mandates .   It looks like the overrides are going to fund programs for special needs students (I'm really not sure what that actually means but i know it includes  managing students with behavioral issues) and  also fund a lunch program.

In addition to the above, we are also paying to transport homeless children to out of town schools.  Once again, is this coming out of the education budget?

I'm not hearing much about education for plain old regular neighborhood kids. A huge number of those are feeling displaced and choosing to go to school elsewhere.

I won't be voting for an override for education when I'm not sure how much money is actually going towards education.  If I'm misunderstanding  the thrust of your argument then apologies and I'll wait for your response.  Thx.... Karen



Posted by: Zephyr | Jul 22, 2012 19:58

I just saw the full page advertisement in WW.  Doesn’t the School Department have any shame?  And there is no indication on who paid for this ad.  If it was paid by a private citizen, the money would have gone to better use if it was just donated to the school.  I will not vote for an override.  Barry Rabinovitch can't manager the school system and has to go along with the entire School Committee.  All they do is rubber stamp everything he wants.  And don’t even get me started on Donna Bronk.  I have no respect for her or the rest of FinCom.

 

Vote how you want but I will vote NO.



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jul 22, 2012 19:58

Mike F says: 

Spherebraker, the teachers in Wareham have taken much more than just "one for the team".  The teachers in this town have repeatedly stepped up and walked-the-walk!

Spherebreaker says:  We see the results of that walking each day don't we Mike? We see our kids getting better grades and performing well above all area schools in standardized testing don't we Mike? I'm saying there are underperforming teachers that are being protected from getting the boot by the Union. Throwing more money at Schools to hire more teachers to hide this fact is not my idea of leadership, where is that Mike?  You want to see heartless, look to what you are asking for and you will see heartless in all its glory. People are losing their homes out here Mike. People have been saddled with 25 to 30k in sewer betterments and hookups Mike. Dont talk to me about heartless until you step up and make accountability mean something and results shown from the millions the schools get already.



Posted by: Hissing Cobra | Jul 23, 2012 07:05

Mike wrote: "We are either funding our town adequately or we are not."

 

With all due respect Mike, we will NEVER fund our town adequately because the elected officials cannot manage the money correctly. When things are going good and property values are raised, this "extra" money is not "put away for a rainy day". Thus, when things go South, there's no money in the rainy day fund to bail the situation out. If the elected officials of all governments would begin to make sound, educated decisions with a lot of common sense thrown in, they'd never need to ask for more money.

 

Whenever my household finances demand more money, I can't hold my hand out and ask someone else to pay my bills. I need to pick up more hours, work side jobs, and/or reduce my overhead. Our town government should operate in this same manner.



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 23, 2012 10:40

Mike,

Less talk, more action please. Make something happen and then we will believe you.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 23, 2012 15:15

Sherebreaker,  the word "heartless" to describe 25 to 30k in sewer betterments and hookups is an understatement.  I would love to see the math on that and what each homeowner could expect to pay per month.  I'm sure it isn't nearly comparable to the per year cost of the override/exclusions - combined.



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 23, 2012 15:20

I just linked to this article posted by the Boston Globe about the special election. After reading it and all the Facebook postings, blogs and opinions from people, I believe that I finally made my ultimate decision. Out of principle, showing administration as well as all of the town people that it is time to be fiscally responsible for their decisions, I believe that I personally will be voting against the override. Does this mean that I have don't want to support the children of Wareham? Nope. Does it mean that I don't care about whether or not they will get new textbooks and a new roof? Nope. Does it mean that I don't support the fact that a feasibility study needs to be done for Minot Forest? Nope.

For me it means that although all of these items are important, unfortunately in times of financial survival, people must do without. I am personally experiencing that in my household as well as many Wareham citizens. Fighting to make ends meet, picking up side jobs to make sure the bills get paid, living within my means whenever possible (or living with personal debt). Part of the community saying NO is that we are finally looking the problem in the face and putting our foot down to say that enough is enough and sacrifices need to be made.

Unfortunately, I often tell children that life is not fair. It is how it is. We adjust and make due with what we have. Recycle stuff, reuse when possible and make sure that we don't waste. It's not pretty or even fun at times, but it is reality.

It is time for the Super to find other avenues to get fund for technology, books and a new gym floor. There are grants and businesses out there that will help...he needs to get his administration together to do some creative brainstorming to deal with these issues. Stop squeezing the tax payers. We can't afford your financial decisions. Donate some of your salary back as a way to show us that you are willing to make significant changes. Until you can become the leader through action instead of words, you will never earn the respect and support of all of us who have watched what has gone on with the school system. Sorry...life isn't fair and the truth hurts sometimes.

 

"Rabinovitch said the pro-override campaign will now begin in earnest. 'We still have a hurdle,' he said. 'The election won’t be easy. We’re asking people to increase their taxes.'"

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/21/wareham_to_hold_first_override_vote_to_help_schools/



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 23, 2012 15:29

 

============================================
Karen wrote:


Hi Mike... I'm not quote sure what you mean when you say there's so much more at stake than just our schools.  I believe  the proposed overrides/debt exclusions are for the schools and education, at least that's how it's being presented.
============================================


Karen, I'm sorry for not being more clear and I admit I haven't completed my thoughts here. I'll try to cut to the chase.


1) I was not referring to how lunches necessarily get paid (I believe it is mostly federal funds but don't hold me to that), but rather how the trend for financial assistance has sharply increased in recent years in Wareham's schools. As the Decas Principal points out, this is a magnitude that we haven't seen before.


2) Special education is mandated for a reason - and it is hard to do.  It gets a lot harder with less teachers. We need to maintain the gains we have made and build on them.


3) Transporting students (homeless or not) is not part of the education budget.  It is part of the town budget.  A lot of people don't know that.  There will be much discussion on this in the coming months.


4) "I'm not hearing much about education for plain old regular neighborhood kids." Let me put it to you this way:  I guess you could say that my child is a 'plain old regular neighborhood kid'.  And like any parent, we want what's best for him.  My wife and I are very particular about his education.  If at any time we feel he isn't being challenged, we speak up about it.  We are very mindful of which teachers he would do well with and which ones he would not.  Did I mention that he won the entire spelling bee at his school?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Anyway, now consider the carnage of the layoffs.  He had two teachers this past year.  One was our first choice and we were thrilled that he got her. The other was his ELA teacher and he was just as good.  Both I have to honestly say were excellent and my expectations are high.  They were both laid off.  Gone without the override.  So we look toward this upcoming year, and the teacher we hoped that he would get was also laid off.  Gone.  Again we considered her one of the best.


So yes, the override will absolutely benefit the regular neighborhood kids.  I'm very sorry if I was unclear about that.


5) "I won't be voting for an override for education when I'm not sure how much money is actually going towards education." By law, the override money can only go to what it was initiated for (re-hiring laid off teachers) in the first year.  I don't have the exact text of the override question in front of me, if anyone else has it handy feel free to add the exact verbiage.  Unfortunately, the sticking point becomes about what happens after year 1.  After that the "town" can do whatever it wishes for it.  I had an issue with this myself, and all I was told was that we need to put faith in the community to ensure that the money stays with the schools.

This is part of that I mean when I say it is about more than just the schools - it is about all of us working together on toward ensuring we are going to adequately fund our children's education.  I can't think of a more worthwhile issue for all of us to find common ground on.  And I remain optimistic that the town will continue to stand together on this now and in the years to come.


We have to.


Why?  Because as was mentioned in another thread, we already have seen a taste of the alternative.  That being the "exodus" that we are starting to see in people leaving by any means possible.  Whether it is families applying for school choice in a neighboring district (which you and I pay 100% for), or reaching deep in their pockets for private school, or people deciding to move out of the town all together.


Other than the limited amount of school choice seats, these are decisions and choices that take personal financial means to make them.


Then there is the flip side.  The aversion of people to decide to move to Wareham in the first place based on our schools. I think Andrea Smith put it best when she said...


==========================================
By: downtheroad on 4/9/12


If I was a parent of teens making a decision about relocating I wouldn't consider relocating to a town where the high school lacked accreditation
==========================================


You may recall our accrediting association (NEASC) recently put our High School on "Warning" status.  Accreditation means that a student's diploma is worth the paper it is printed on (including all those regular neighborhood kids).  NEASC had a lot of good things to say about our HS but they also found a lot of concerns that need to be addressed (the school roof, textbooks/technology, etc).  We have 5 years to address all of the findings.


However...


1) There are a certain number of findings that they want to see addressed in 18 months.  If not, then our status changes from "Warning" to "Probation".  Without the override and debt exclusions, we can expect to be placed on "Probation".



2) If there is a significant negative change with the HS, then the Principal of that school is obligated to report it to NEASC.  A layoff resulting in student/teacher ratios in the 30s is a negative change.  If the layoff stands, we can expect to be placed on "Probation".


What is the difference between "Warning" and "Probation"?  Other than getting closer to the all-out loss of accreditation, it means that Wareham High School will be publicly listed on the NEASC website under "Schools on Probation".  Fortunately, they don't list schools on "Warning" status.


Karen, if on Wednesday we can't get folks to get behind supporting fixing a swiss cheese roof, rehiring needed teachers, replacing our ancient unusable  computers, and even purchasing something as fundamental as up to date textbooks - then do you think we will have made enough progress in 18 months to avoid "Probation" status?


So when I say it is more than just about our schools, what I'm trying to convey is that the vote this Wednesday has the potential completely transform our town - for better or for worse.


A vote AGAINST the exclusions and override will only further seal Wareham's current fate. The walls will go back up and the bitter divisions will be reformed.  The Tit for Tat will magnify and nothing will get done for Municipal Maintenance, the Library, the Elderly, and on and on.  And let's face it, there are a handful of those who are perfectly happy to keep it that way.  I don't have to mention them by name.  You know who they are.  They revel in partisanship and exist only to stir the pot - and some of them don't even live here.


Those fed up with it all and who have the financial means will continue to look elsewhere.  Those young and upwardly mobile parents looking toward their kid's future won't think of coming here. And at the end of the day, the result will be an ever increasing number of those who rely on services (by whatever unfortunate circumstance) and a decreasing number of those who will be able to pay for those services.


Am I wrong?


On the other hand, a vote FOR the exclusions and override will continue to build on the collaboration and common ground that so many have worked on over the past 6 months.
Look, I get it.  There is tremendous mistrust in government and local politics.  I not only understand it, I share it with many of you.  But I have worked with so many groups in the past on other state and federal issues who have been at each other's throats.  I have seen attitudes and paradigms flip like a switch when they can put aside that mistrust and truly work with each other in a sincere way toward a common good.


I am telling you,  that is the special moment in time we are at right now. I have seen it soo many times and I can't tell you how much better off EVERYONE was when they put their guard down, looked each other in the eye, and shook hands.   I am telling you if we can "get this right", then we can get ANYTHING right.


I hope everyone listened to the link for the Principal of the Decas School.  She is as straight a shooter as they come.  And Jennifer, you are right, the time for talking is over.  It is time to DO SOMETHING.  As Mrs. Panarese put it, everything is in the hands of the Townspeople now.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 23, 2012 16:09

Hi Mike.. Your response was informative, thank you.  #1 You state that the trend for financial assistance in the schools has increased. Could you please say more on that.   thx.



Posted by: SGT | Jul 23, 2012 16:33

In response to those who have posted regarding the managing of town fund by our elected officials, please remember the comments made at the  presentation of the last state audit.  (Paraphrased) 'What did you find?(Question from select person).  The same things we found 10 years ago that you have done nothing to correct.  You have no idea where the money is coming from and no idea how it will be and no idea where it is being spent.  You requested fund sin one instance for an account that already had more than enough money to pay for what you wanted.  Response of former select person who had been chairperson for the FinCom - I no nothing about finances.'

These are the people handling the revenue of the town.

Vote no on override.  They are just getting another liscense to mismanage the money and then cry for more.

If these educators are so concerned with the education of the children then why did one of our former teachers want to stonewall Upper Cape on their request for a tuition increase?  They at least graduate their students.  Not only that but we pay Upper Cape substantially less then other towns.  Maybe the solution is to send all the children to other school systems and then we wouldn't need the over paid admin, insurance and pension, or maintenance of the school buildings.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 23, 2012 17:14

Mike... It is a revenue problem.  The state has forced  Wareham into providing services/homes for more and more people requiring financial and other types of assistance. Unfortunately, there has also been a body in town that has actively and  shortsightedly supported this movement.  As a result, we are beyond saturated at this point.  Wareham is only a working class community and  there aren't the financial resources available to fund what's now required to serve an overwhelming number of people in need. And why should there be? Wareham was never in a position  to absorb this much poverty and the magnitude of social problems associated with it and yet who tried to stop it?   Darn right it's a revenue problem caused by politicians who exploited this community and a community that either didn't see or didn't want to see what the outcome would be.

I'm really struggling with this override question so please dont take this as a personal attack.  This should all have been anticipated.



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 23, 2012 17:25

Mike... It is a revenue problem.  The state has forced  Wareham into providing services/homes for more and more people requiring financial and other types of assistance. Unfortunately, there has also been a body in town that has actively and  shortsightedly supported this movement.  As a result, we are beyond saturated at this point.  Wareham is only a working class community and  there aren't the financial resources available to fund what's now required to serve an overwhelming number of people in need. And why should there be? Wareham was never in a position  to absorb this much poverty and the magnitude of social problems associated with it and yet who tried to stop it?   Darn right it's a revenue problem caused by politicians who exploited this community and a community that either didn't see or didn't want to see what the outcome would be.

I'm really struggling with this override question so please dont take this as a personal attack.  This should all have been anticipated.



Posted by: Joe Leggett | Jul 23, 2012 17:29

DANG!!!! Someone does get it.

 



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jul 23, 2012 20:32

Mike - Perhaps I should be flattered that you consider a sentence I wrote on the Observer chat in April worthy of quoting in July, but quite frankly I'm concerned that your use of the quote in this blog may mislead people into thinking that I support the override. I do not support the override.

I believe the school depart can and should work within its budget to achieve its goals. Or to put it another way, I offer this quote from myself as posted on Observer Chat last night:

"By: downtheroad on 7/22/12 [Delete]
Enabling...now there's a word that fits.

It's a tough economy; it has been for several years. We've all had to adapt in one way or another, tighten belts so to speak. Having tightened our belts are we now going to give the school department permission to expand there's at our expense? Are we going to start down a long road of tightening our budgets a little more each year, to accommodate those who refuse to tighten there's?"



Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 23, 2012 20:57

Mr Flaherty, your own uncertainty is coming through loud and clear so thank you for convincing a vote against the override. Even more convincing is your comment "I had an issue with this myself, and all I was told was that we need to put faith in the community to ensure that the money stays with the schools." Of course this is the same "community" that approved the second highest paid Town position, the Superintendent, while the schools decayed and teachers were left with pink slips. With past and present spending practices you have absolutely no chance of convincing anyone that these same practices won't continue. If someone has to tell you how to vote on this issue Mr Flaherty then you need to resign immediately as we no longer need any more puppets in our Town administration. Also eople like Karen and Joe need to stop the correlation between the poverty level of residents and the spending practices of the Town. The fact of the matter is one begets the other with all of us knowing which does which. Check the increased foreclosure rate to prove that. Thanks again Mr Flaherty!



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 23, 2012 21:21

Justice... I'm not getting what you're saying.... Could you say more about poverty and spending and "one begets the other" and foreclosure statistics.   Where are you seeing a correlation ?



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 23, 2012 22:04

Hi Andrea,


I found your statement on accreditation interesting and I agree with it.  I notice that you had chimed in early on this discussion and I figured you would see it sooner or later and chime in again and add some more insight.  So yes, feel free to feel flattered.  I'm flattered that I could flatter you  :-)


Honestly, I thought your position on the override/exclusions was made clear over the months that you were not in favor of them. That's just my recollection without going over your statements.


However, after looking at the quote you chose to include tonight, while it clearly doesn't endorse the ballot questions, it actually seems noncommital either way.


Are you undecided?


I can certainly respect your vote either way.  What I am saddened by though is how some folks are voting against the override based on sticking it to this person or that person.  That never does anyone any good - certainly not the kids.


Best,
Mike

 



Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 23, 2012 22:10

Thought it was pretty easy to understand Karen. The poverty level in Wareham includes more than just those who are receiving "services/homes" hence the reference to the foreclosure rate. Furthermore those so called "services/homes" are provided more by State and Federal agencies than any individual town. The "correlation" being referred to is that you appear to be blaming those receiving "services/homes" for the poor spending practices of the Town and there is absolutely no "correlation" between the two. In actuality the "correlation" exists more between the spending practices of the Town and the foreclosure rate which was the point being made with the previous post. Hopefully this is clearer to you now Karen.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 23, 2012 22:18

Andrea, sorrry, I just re-read your post and see that you definitely do not support the override.

 

I thank you anyway though for discussing the issues civily and maturely and being able to disagree without being disagreeable  :-)



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Jul 23, 2012 22:39

================================
Karen Spinks wrote:


Darn right it's a revenue problem caused by politicians who exploited this community and a community that either didn't see or didn't want to see what the outcome would be.
================================

 

Karen if you are touching on the issues with 40B, then I agree and I think it all falls under the Wareham slogan of "kicking the can down the road". 

 



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jul 24, 2012 07:02

it amazes me that so many of you would rather deny your children or the children of your neighbors safe transportation to and from school, a safe and clean school environment, classes that weren't so crowded that the teacher can't possibly touch each and every student that wants to learn, BOOKS, you'd rather teachers spend time and money making copies of pages torn from the few books they have to make hand outs, you'd rather deny the students who had nothing to do with the mismanagement of a budget a solid education in a hope that they would be able to rise above the low income status so many in Wareham find themselves so you can send a message to those administrators and politicians that you won't stand for their incompetence and won't reward it with more money... really? Are you all that myopic in your views that you'd rather penalize the students.. since many of you don't seem to understand.. the housing programs you want to blame are state and federally supported... and one of the contributing problems if you want to correct it needs to be addressed to the state.. Wareham is grouped with many much more affluent towns and therefore does not receive as much state funding as it so desperately needs... and last thought rather than rely on what you see posted here to help you decide come out to the school committee meetings, there is a better than good chance many, if not all of you don't.. how do I know that.. I am there and aside from one or two towns people it's me, Christian Fernandes, the school committee, administrators, and the janitors...



Posted by: letsbehonest | Jul 24, 2012 07:03

My solutions to the School Dept. problems - FIRE RAB!, REPLACE the  school committee members!, OUTSOURCE the buses!, ELIMINATE the middle management!, REHIRE those teacher that were terminated!, FORCE each principal DO their jobs!, and let our teachers TEACH as they learned through their education!!



Posted by: AndJusticeForAll | Jul 24, 2012 08:07

Props to Andrea Smith for hitting a home run however while the School Dept salaries remain ridiculously high "goals" will never be met. Why is there still no mention from Mr Flaherty or anyone else for that matter with regards to the override being merely a one year fix? Why is there no mention of the four years after that where the tax increases will be used, probably to it's fullest, to cover the insane salaries that were approved without money to cover them in the first place? Why is there no mention that this is a time in our economy to be cutting budgets instead of increasing them? But no by all means "kick the can down the road", point fingers to the "people requiring financial and other types of assistance", and continue to approve the spending of funds there is no money to cover. Are you people kidding or what? True Bruce that the "students had nothing to do with the mismanagement of a budget" it's just we haven't got the time to go to meetings because we are the ones having to cover the "mismanagement of a budget". Hello? And it is inconceivable that you blame both the tax payers AND the administration in the same sentence. Talk about "myopic"! Patience is definitely a virtue and next years override will be here before we know it.



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 24, 2012 08:53

To Bruce...

I don't think the vote against the override is a vote to DENY children...I think it is a vote to hold leaders accountable to properly manage funds. You put it in the ProChoice/ProLife terms...and quite frankly... I am surprised that people can not see that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wareham is one of the few towns who does not charge families for bus transportation. New Books do not make better teachers/lessons/learning...frankly, in my 7 years teaching MATH at Wareham Middle School, I NEVER relied on the book... as a good teacher, we know the standards and content that we have to set forth to the students...and I created all my own resources...still do. There are so many resources out there that this whole argument about books is dumb. In terms of technology... the district has SO MUCH that is not being used. I saw smart boards sitting in the abandoned middle school library not being used for YEARS... what needs to be done is that the technology directer need to take an inventory of all the technology in the district and reallocate it to teachers who while use what we have. We need to make use out of the things we have and stop crying about being so poor. We have a lot of things going for us.

I agree with Letsbehonest in that we need a new, energetic school committee that has some time and experience in education and the CURRENT needs of our society. Old ways of teaching/funding/using supplies will NOT work. We have 21st century learners and need thinkers and DOERS (not yappers) who can problem solve and think critically about how to get around the problems that we are experiencing. We need a leadership (superintendent) who is willing to put his money where his mouth is...stop taking unnecessary raises and someone who can go out there and FIND funding opportunities that will enhance this district.

We need to take a REAL look at the situation... we are a diverse community that needs to stop making excuses and make some hard choices.  A NO VOTE does not mean that we do not love our kids, Mr. Gannon. It means that we are tired of school leadership using our children as pawns and empty threats to get their hands on more money.



Posted by: resident | Jul 24, 2012 09:12

Bruce, cry me a river.  I don't think I have ever agreed with LBH until now. BULLSEYE !!!! Knock it down to the foundation and lets rebuild from there.



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 24, 2012 09:25

http://www.ehow.com/info_8702868_massachusetts-roofing-grants.html

Maybe this can be brought to the school committee...its a start.



Posted by: jenndh2o | Jul 24, 2012 09:28

http://massschoolbuildings.org/building/prerequisites/green_repair_SOIs

In March 2010, the MSBA officially launched its $300 Million Green Repair Program.

The Green Repair Program is for the repair or replacement of roofs, windows and/or boilers in public school facilities that are structurally, functionally and educationally sound except for the condition of the roof, windows and/or boilers. If a public school facility needs more extensive repair or renovation work – such as upgrades to electrical, plumbing or fire/life safety systems, renovation of interior spaces, improvements related to modernizing educational spaces, additional spaces based on capacity issues – it is not eligible for funding under the Green Repair Program.

 

HUMMM...I see an avenue we need to explore...and it took, what 5 minutes of internet search???



Posted by: Hissing Cobra | Jul 24, 2012 09:36

To Bruce, Mike and anyone else who want to use the "Children" as a crutch to get this passed, this HAS NEVER BEEN ABOUT THE CHILDREN. This is about accountability and learning to "live within your means". It also means hiring people at reasonable salaries, spending money wisely and assigning the money to where it's needed most. It also means saving surplus money for a "rainy day".

 

This override will only benefit the schools for ONE YEAR and it's only a Band-Aid. It will not miraculously cure the problems for the future. Of course we all want our children to be educated in the best possible manner but if that includes mortgaging their future, what's the point?



Posted by: bruce gannon | Jul 24, 2012 10:32

Seems that no matter how you couch it in the final analysis the students ARE paying the price. To the teacher that never used a book to do your job.. it's not about doing YOUR job it's about the students having materials to read and learn from, as a teacher you know full well that not all students learn the same way and most need the tool of a book.. Hissing Cobra I am very articulate and have an above average knowledge of vocabulary.. I understand full well that there is anger over mismanaged budgets and out of control bureaucracies but ultimately the lesson you want to teach is going to effect the quality of education.. teachers aren't the problem, they lose.. the students aren't the problem, they lose... the school committee, no effect, none of those you want to teach a lesson to about fiscal responsibility will be effected.. you will only succeed in damaging the quality of the educational experience... now I challenge each of you that think it's about teaching a lesson in fiscal responsibility... there is a school committee meeting this Wednesday at 7 come to it... come out from behind your keyboards and moronic screen names.. go face to face with the people you find so incompetent and irresponsible and tell them why you are voting no but then give them the courtesy of letting them respond... I'll be there.. will you?



Posted by: SGT | Jul 24, 2012 12:46

I read in some of the articles that some citizens believe that all the problems with money are caused by the state's unfunded mandate's.  Just what are they and how much do they cost?  Also, if the town officials and school officials are doing their jobs they should be alerting the townspeople of what is being presented for votes in the State House and if it is to be unfunded mandates or programs that will put an onerous burden on the town, they should be hammering the State Rep and State Senator and also the Governor.

As I have stated in my letters before on other subjects there are many reasons to start programs that are very beneficial to the town.  But everyone should keep in mind the cost of the program increases each year and will probably never go away.  The best projection of the continuing costs will be about 80% lower than what actually will happen.

Also, in regards to this keep in mind we don't have the money because it has been spent.  What it was spent on is the problem.  Once the basic needs of the town have been met then the town can look at what else they can do.  Decrease taxes?  Fund a short term program?  Purchase land for recreation?  However, you don't do these things if you can fund the essentials.  IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO HIRE A CHEF.  AND IF YOU DID HIRE A CHEF IT IS NOT YOUR BOSS'S FAULT THAT YOU DIDN'T SPEND THE MONEY ON FOOD.

It is not the fault of the taxpayers at large that the town and schools are in this condition, it is the fault of the town officials for not getting control of the budget and revenue projections.  It is the fault of the officials for not being clear on what the basic cost is for running the town vs. the revenue.  Over that we then would know what we have left for nice to have programs or tax reduction.

For example(and I don't mean to be pedantic) if the basic operating cost to the town for fiscal 2011 was $30 million dollars this plus what ever contractual obligations for pay raises will be is the base line.  What then is the revenue projection.  If it over or under the base line and contract obligations then that is what is left to add or delete people and programs.  Forget borrowing.  That is a slippery slope that we need to get off.  Cost more in the end ten the program is worth.  Use the ultimate credit card - CASH.

In closing:

LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS. VOTE NO ON THE OVERRIDE!



Posted by: Zephyr | Jul 24, 2012 13:34

Bruce, I read your comments regarding the library which I will respond to later on that thread.  And I’ve read your posting here so I know what side of the isle you are on.  Although I respect your opinion, I for one, will not be taking you up on your challenge to be at the school committee meeting this Wednesday at 7 as my NO vote will already be cast.  As I stated above, I do not trust the school committee as they just rubber stamp everything Barry wants.  I had high hopes for Mike but he is slowly letting me down.

Enjoy the meeting.



Posted by: resident | Jul 24, 2012 17:00

Bruce, so we save the Wareham schools for the second year in a row. What happens next year? Stop hiding behind the kids. We should have made the hard choices last year. 



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 24, 2012 21:37

Sgt. I have used the term 'unfunded mandates' incorrectly. The mandates are underfunded.  If you google  New America Foundation NCLB program you can read up on it.  Essentially, cities and towns are mandated to provide any and all services available to any student, regardless of of whether or not the individual goal is realistic, in order to prep the student for standardized testing.   And this is not all being paid for by the State/Federal government.  It is  very much the responsibility of the cities and towns to come up with the funds because the mandates are underfunded. Wareham has a high number of students defined as having special needs.   Wareham is mandated to provide each SPED student any and all additional services 'deemed necessary' which means that there is no limit placed on spending..  Therefore the  NCLB Act is hitting impoverished areas particularly hard.



Posted by: Ellen Begley | Jul 24, 2012 23:07

I posted this elsewhere but it is worth repeating here:

Good evening all: interesting reading. Thought I'd put my two cents in regarding my vote of 'no' for the debt exclusions and override. I will remind you that the this is not the first time debt exclusions and overrides have been mentioned by the school dept.The school dept raided the healthcare trust fund last year,(there was a MOU crafted by the then chair of the sc and bos regarding the 'solidarity' of the use of the HCTF, voted on by the bos and interestingly enough never voted on or publically acknowledged by the sc) used the one time stimulus funding to hire another layer of management the year before,used the sewer enterprise fund (with the rest of the town) to balance the budget in the previous years: all the while complaining about the flawed Chapter 70 funding formula: well what has the school committee done about this chapter 70 formula? How have they informed and mobilized the citizens of Wareham to petition the State to change the funding formula? I found it manipulative and disingenuous to put teachers and textbooks on the list. We vote at Town Meeting on a single budget number, without the debate afforded the 'town side budget': the school committee/administration has demonstrated time after time that they are incapable of 'living within their means'(with decreasing student enrollment) all the while the town side is slashing services and positions. I voted 'no' to put these questions on the ballot and I will vote no on wednesday



Posted by: P-SPAN | Jul 25, 2012 02:05

Ellen, which is it? Do you want the schools to have safe busses or not? Didn’t you make a big stink out of the dangerous condition of the busses? Pretty much rode that issue right into your selectman's seat..as I recall. Was your goal to get us a safer fleet, or (help Brenda) make the school administration look bad?

 

We need an upgraded fleet. Last I heard we have 25 busses over 11 years old. Out-source/In-house..frankly, at this point I don’t care how we do it..I just wait endlessly for it to get done…somehow, sometime. Analysis to paralysis. It's unbelievable...but somehow not..in Wareham. The busses aren’t getting any younger. Everyone will (obviously) vote how the want on these ballot questions. They’ll all have their reasons. It sounds to me like some wish to punish the School Administration and vote them down because of that. That would be vindictive..and you'd be punishing the wrong people. Others sound like they just hate paying taxes and refuse to pay another dime (join the club). I don’t have the exact numbers handy..but I don’t believe the added cost for the taxpayer is “exhorbitant”. I’ll choose to look at it as an investment in our schools/students. I’ld add that if this turns into an annual “thing”…asking us to vote for one override after another. I’ll try to look at each that comes up individually.. based on it’s own “merits”. But I don’t expect I’ll be voting “aye” too often..after these ones.



Posted by: Ellen Begley | Jul 25, 2012 06:36

Dave, The buses are not on the ballot: I believe the buses should be outsourced. Yes, we need safe transportation for our children and certainly the buses that are transporting the children are currently 'safe' or they wouldn't be transporting the children, right?

 

You are missing the point: it has already turned into 'an annual thing' re the school budget: sewer enterprise fund, then 'one time' stimulus funding, health care trust fund holiday and now the over ride and debt exclusions. "punishing the school administration"? Really? How about holding the school administration accountable for every penny, much as the town meeting voters do line by line for the town side of the budget. Investing in the students is not the issue: over inflated school administration is the issue. Why in the world would a school administration protect their upper management and middle management and put teachers and textbooks as debt exclusions? Does that indicate that the 'children come first?" what about fiscal accountability? Remember, the over ride would go the  school side of the budget for one year, then into the general fund as a permanent tax increase. We have citizens struggling to make ends meet in this economy as it is: what you deem as not 'exhorbitant' may be so to those that are already 'doing without' to live within their means. The school administration needs to live within their means as well. They don't agree with the Chapter 70 funding formula? Then mobilize the community and change it: don't just look for more money from those that don't have more to give. Looks like an annual 'thing' to me.



Posted by: SGT | Jul 25, 2012 12:15

RE: Karen Spinks comment:  With all respect.  An underfunded mandate is one which the government agency decides that the Federal, State, County, or local government must do a particular task and provides minimal funding for it.  An unfunded mandate is basically the same thing, but the mandating agency provided no funding.  This country went through this in the '70s and '80s when the politicians would cave in to special interests by voting this mandates in to law.  Such as, telling someone to go buy groceries but not providing them the money.  Then, you are at fault for not doing what you told to do.  I do not know how much money has been provided by the Feds and State for the special needs children, but I would be interested in knowing what the elected town officials have done in getting the Sate Rep and Senator and the Governor to address this in the Legislature. Do we just wring our hands or was action taken prior to the drafting of the legislation, during or was nothing done until after the vote was taken in the Legislature?



Posted by: SGT | Jul 25, 2012 17:12

Just read my last post and what horrible spelling and syntax.  I should always check my writing and not depend on spell check.



Posted by: PMB | Jul 25, 2012 17:50

Mrs. Begley   What I don't understand concerning the bus issue is why are you so certain that outsourcing will benefit the town?  There have been a number of studies done over the years that have shown that a town run system saves money.  Common sense dictates that a municipal system that doesn't need to generate a profit would be cheaper than a for profit, private company.  Please show me any place where a private, outsourced entity has delivered a government service for a lower price.  The US government has outsourced virtually every aspect of providing services to the military and the costs have sky rocketed through the roof.  First Student didn't become the largest private bus company in America by giving towns like Wareham big discounts.  That being said, why would you, as a selectman want to outsource?  You know that student transportation falls outside of the net school spending formula and is a budget item on the "town side" of the budget.  If it ends up costing more for student transportation by outsourcing, the money will have to come from the town side.  This will not affect the school budget, but it will mean fewer police, municipal maint. personnel , shorter library hours, etc.  I'm sure the school committee would be happy to give up the headache of running the bus system, but it's done to save the TOWN money.  Maybe they look at it as "we are one town, and we are all it this together", not it's "us against them", which is the attitude you seem to convey at times.  Somebody is going to transport our students...it's the law.  Whether it's the WPS or some private company, the buses will roll.  If we can save money by doing it ourselves, what is the big problem?



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Jul 25, 2012 18:35

Sgt. Thanks for clarification. Mrs Begley mentions funding in her comments above referring to the "flawed Chapter 70 funding formula". She appears to be placing responsibility on the SC for not acting on this. It would be useful, moving forward, if committees provided the  appropriate verbage and contact info. for residents actively interested in challenging the State on some of these important issues. I think we all have to take on the responsibility of becoming more involved.



Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jul 25, 2012 18:45

The cost of replacing school buses needs to be part of the equation used to determine the cost-effectiveness of Wareham owned school bus transportation versus outsourced school transportation.

How many buses in the aged fleet need to be replaced immediately and how many will need to be replaced each year thereafter? And at what cost per bus?

Wareham is only six school districts in Massachusetts that does not outsource its school transportation. Why have so many other school districts chosen to outsource transportation?



Posted by: PMB | Jul 25, 2012 19:20

Most schools districts outsource transportation because of the very high capital outlay it takes to get a town owned transportation system off the ground.  We were one of the few towns to do this years ago.  It is cost prohibitive for towns to start now with tight budgets.  This is not common here in MA but it very common in other parts of the country.  Just because it is not common, does not mean it is not a better way to go.  Maybe, just maybe, Wareham is doing something right for a change.  To your second point..the expense of buying the buses has to factor in to the cost of running the system.  Don't private companies have to buy buses too?  This cost is factored in for the duration of the contract with private companies.  Most school systems have clauses in the contracts that dictate how old the buses can be with private carriers.  This adds to the cost.  The bottom line is this...if we outsource school transportation, it will probably (according to all previous studies) cost the town more money.  It will come out of the town side of the budget, and the school dept. will have one less headache to deal with.  We will also have less money for all the other services that have been cut short because of a lack of funds.  Either way, a big yellow bus (and many small special needs buses), will still carry our children to school.  We will NEVER really be out of the school transportation business.  Either we run it ourselves or we pay a contractor...but we will still be in the bus business one way or the other.



Posted by: joycebakes | Aug 07, 2012 06:35

Just curious...  I keep hearing how much it is for the homeowner to pay the extra tax ($50 for 5 years).  How much would it be for the students' families to pay extra?

And while I am at it- wouldn't school buses last a lot longer and cost a lot less to run and maintain, if the buses had a rule of not stopping every 50 feet?  Wouldn't it be just as good, and a very tolerable alternative, for school buses to stop every 500 feet and not closer?  It would save on gas and maintenance.



Posted by: FrustratedinWW | Aug 07, 2012 18:39

Joycebakes, I was just talking to a good friend of mine about this earlier today. 



Posted by: FrustratedinWW | Aug 07, 2012 18:50

Joycebakes....it's frustrating the options we have to school our children.  I voted for the override.  I truly believe, if the wording had been different, like:

ALL money gained from the override would be exclusively used for the education of wareham children, EVERY year it is collected (instead of put in the general fund after the first year).  In addition, ALL teachers and administrators and SUPERS will "share in the sacrifice" and maintain frozen salary rates for three years.  I really think more people would have voted for it.

However, since the vote has been cast, and we are faced in the situation we have, I would love to see alternative options/discussions occurring.  Is it even possible to entertain a cost/per child fee the family could pay?  I'm so tired of people talking about FREE FREE FREE...nothing is free.  If we want our children to have quality education, then we as parents need to step up and see that it happens.

Part of the huge issue I see is the lack of parental involvement and intitlement attitude running rampant.  Why is it that so many parents are willing to spend money on frivolties, but complain about donating class supplies?  It's sad.  I've given great thought to putting my child in a different school, however, let's face it, the choices are limited.  For many non-religious parents, there's just not enough options. 

I urge EVERY parent that has a child in the school system to get INVOLVED.  Even if it's only an hour a month.  Be there, donate supplies, advocate for the school AND your child.  Don't expect others to do it for you.



Posted by: joycebakes | Aug 08, 2012 07:24

Now that is an interesting idea never mentioned- discuss options of raising money for schools.  Why IS it that it is either the town pays or services get cut?  What about selling advertising on school buses?  What about getting a roving art grant to put local art up in school buses?  What about a public service grant to post anti violence, anti gang, anti drug, tolerance, go for kindness posters on buses?  What about having a contest at schools for ideas to raise money?  Kids are very creative and could probably come up with stuff they would like to have and could make money.

 

And so does anyone know how much cost to each child's family to pay for the things needed?



Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Aug 08, 2012 13:29

'Frustrated' and 'Joyce'....... I watched the SC discuss introducing fees for busing.  Dr R. divided the school population into thirds:  one third is special needs and not required to pay, one third is low income and not required to pay. This means that one third only would be required to pay for transportation.

If correct, I imagine that this formula applies to everything so only one third of the student population presumably would be making a financial contribution for supplies, books, transportation and anything else required. 

I'm wondering if it might be worthwhile discussing having non working parents volunteer some time to assist in the schools as a cost saving measure. For example, assisting with  bus duty, lunch duty, playground duty, filing, etc. This would be an opportunity for parents to become more involved in their children's schools and it would also free up some of the salaried  staff to do other things.

 

 



Posted by: FrustratedinWW | Aug 08, 2012 19:00

Karen, and that's where the problem is....dividing people.  I'm sorry but ALL the students are receiving an education.....so whether a child is special needs or low income, the bottom line is the same.  There is no such thing as free.  Every parent should be held accountable for the quality and care of their child's education.  Even if it's at a sliding scale fee. 

I'm tired of the free passes and double standards.  It only divides a community and population more, thus enforcing the entitlement mentality even more. 

I like the idea about having more parents volunteering, and I strongly encourage more to do so.  However, it's a fine line to walk when parents enter the school because it opens the door to liability.  Frankly, there are just some parents I do NOT want around my child.

 



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