Many Steps Too Far

Our superintendent has announced yet another Advisory Committee, this time one called the “Timberlane Parents Advisory Forum.”

You may think this initiative is an invitation to dialogue, but it is actually a dead end to elected irresponsibility.

Here is today’s announcement:

Superintendent Dr. Earl Metzler is pleased to announce the establishment of TPAF, the Timberlane Parents Advisory Forum. TPAF will meet every other month, beginning in January, and be co-chaired by parent Julie Hammond, former Citizen Advisory Committee member Kate Delfino, and District administrators Deb Armfield and Christi Michaud. TPAF is charged with providing a forum for parents of Timberlane students to share their concerns and offer feedback to District leaders regarding program, curriculum and instruction. All parents of Timberlane students are invited to attend these meetings. Dates, times and locations of these meetings will be posted at ttps://public.timberlane.net/projects/paradv/default.aspx .

Parents may suggest agenda topics for these forums by emailing forum members at TPAF@timberlane.net.


This is a major initiative involving the community, parents and students, yet it was done completely without approval or even knowledge of the school board.  The school board should have been consulted to decide the scope of this “forum” and how it was to be composed – if at all. You will notice that there is no school board member involved with this “forum.”

You may think it alarmist for me to say again, yet even more forcefully in this case, that these advisory groups which have grown more numerous than mushrooms on a damp lawn are turning the school board into a Potemkin Village.

Every issue, every problem you have will now be directed to some advisory committee or forum or other and your elected officials will know nothing but what the SAU chooses to put on our agenda – of which individual school board members have no control. Under the guise of open dialogue, you are being stripped of accountability from your elected officials on the school board.

If the superintendent intended to isolate and emasculate the school board, he couldn’t have been more effective than his current course of action. The most disturbing element of these groups constructed by our superintendent is that they are being allowed and even encouraged by a board that doesn’t recognize how its own authority and avenues of information are being curtailed and undermined.

Here is the primary symptom of a lack of meaningful elected oversight: a $69.3 million budget for 16/17 was approved by the budget committee last night after only two meetings with the full budget. The proposed budget is up 1.5% over this current year’s budget.  Three new deans were added to the high school administration, a behaviorist, and one teacher/management position added to the music department in the proposed 16/17 budget. Enrollment in the district is expected to decline by 148 students next year.

Twenty-three positions were cut from the budget but despite my direct inquiries, the superintendent would not say how many of these cut positions were actually filled. TRSD has long carried an undisclosed number of vacant positions in the budget.

Going to warrant in March will most likely be a new teacher’s contract and a few facilities upgrades.

 

 

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5 Comments

Filed under Budget Committee, School Board Functioning, Taxes, The Mushroom Farm

5 responses to “Many Steps Too Far

  1. Mark Acciard

    Why is a special panel necessary to handle parent complaints and suggestions? Are there so many that the admin can’t handle it? OR, is this the means of avoiding having to directly hear and act upon them?

    • These advisory committees also tie up administrators. It is no wonder we need more and more administrators and their workload is so heavy – they are attending an explosion of advisory committee meetings. It is also a way a having school board members yell, “Enough! We can’t attend all these meetings….” and so, out of consideration for “volunteers,” school board presence is no longer needed for many of these meetings thus leaving the school board more and more isolated.

      • Mark Acciard

        Donna perhaps you can answer a questions for me; Why is the SB content to allow their employee, to direct policy and procedure to them. And to implement policy and procedure without oversight or supervision?

      • Our government was founded with the underlying idea that all branches of government would be jealous of their power and so hold all other branches of government on a short leash. Our school board worships our SAU staff. There is an inverted relationship of power.

        Why is the SB content to allow their employee, to direct policy and procedure to them?
        And to implement policy and procedure without oversight or supervision?
        Answer: This happens quite a lot. The SAU imposed a Right to Know policy charging 50 cents a page without the approval or foreknowledge of the SAU board or the TRSB. These advisory committees are another example of a runaway policy implementation.

        The SB says over and over that they set policy and the SAU implements it. Nowhere in that division of labor is there room for SB oversight of implementation though one would think that would be obviously implicit.

        Most people don’t know but our policy committee is made up of 7 administrators and 4 school board members. It is co-chaired by the superintendent. Although the school board is ultimately responsible for approving policies, they do so as an automatic reflex to the recommendations of the policy committee. The opinion of administrators on policy is needed and important, I feel that administrators should never be voting on SB policy – or setting the agenda for policy meetings.

  2. Mark Acciard

    Thank you Donna, It is rare to see a School Board member HONEST enough to admit that the SB has abdicated their responsibility to the employee they are SUPPOSED to be supervising.

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