Last night’s school committee meeting was extremely informative (read: excessively long)
One major takeaway? The only thing more outdated than the district’s business practices is its technology.
Interim business manager and former Plymouth superintendent Barry Haskell’s report highlighted the need for an improvement in the district’s technology, particularly as the administration shifts to more and more data driven strategies and aims to elevate the district to higher performance. Even the student representative was detailed in his description of antiquated and often non-functioning computer systems at New Bedford High.
Other flaws on the business side of things include going over budget for transportation and staff as overtime has gone out of control. The new business manager will be trying to keep that in check. He’ll also be working with the new facilities director to try and fill some craftsman type positions and work on a long-term plan to bring the district up to par. While it’s often easy to scapegoat those who aren’t around to face criticism, I’ve got some serious concerns about the operations of the business management side of things in recent years.
We received an update on the status of the superintendent search committee that I wrote about yesterday. The due date for applications is the 16th, as previously reported. My complaint that there was a lack of committee meetings was answered, too. The search committee will meet on the 16th at Carney at 7pm (agenda here). Thanks for the two days notice! Scheduling issues aside, I’ll likely be in attendance. Finding a new superintendent that can successfully work with the district is extremely important and I’d like to help in that process as much as possible.
Outside of a few pro-innovation school speakers that were short on facts and very long on rhetoric (Al Qaeda? Really?), there were a number of vocal opponents to the proposals, mostly from a horde of teachers from Roosevelt Middle School who have concerns about opening a “school in a school,” for many reasons considered already on this blog and one that never even crossed my mind. We would be filling a building that contains nearly eight hundred 11-15 year olds with a couple hundred 4-7 year olds. Obviously, there are a lot of problems with this. Add them to the list.
On a happier note, Dr. Lawrence Finnerty was nominated and approved unanimously to become vice chair of the school committee. He gave a brief speech about compromise, saying that the gridlock in Congress is of help to no one and is not a model for New Bedford to follow. I couldn’t agree more. He also mentioned a desire to establish a shared school committee library that could be used for research before the committee members make important decisions. Here’s hoping that this library be open in time for folks to read up on Deborah Meier, as per the suggestion of Ricardo Rosa.
Congratulations to Dr. Finnerty. The position is certainly well-deserved and a step in the right direction for a district that is improving steadily (a point confirmed by the DESE’s Eva Mitchell and her staff, who have been working well with the current NBPS administration).
A more in-depth look at some of the subjects of the meeting will be forthcoming.