Friday, July 16, 1999
Leaving CCHS, Thayer sees need for more support, less "teacher-bashing"
Eugene Thayer attended his final Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee meeting as the interim superintendent on June 29. Thayer, who was previously Superintendent of Schools in Framingham and Lawrence, had come out of retirement to manage the school system for the past year while Concord was in the process of hiring a permanent superintendent. Ed Mavragis took over the reins as the new superintendent in Concord on July 1.
Thayer expressed his disappointment over the recent defeat of the Concord Public School's K-8 budget override request saying, "The Concord schools are underfunded for programs for the 21st century." Due to the failure of the Proposition 2 1/2 override request, some music and athletics programs were cut and the technology budget was reduced. Concord is also without a full-day kindergarten and plans for the program are now unfunded. The Concord-Carlisle High School budget was not affected by the vote.
Thayer told the school committee and those in attendance that the teaching staff in Concord is excellent but the teachers need the support of the community to do their job. "This is the first time I've encountered the issue of teacher-bashing," said Thayer, noting the criticism of teachers and their salaries that arose during the recent debate surrounding the override request. "We must celebrate them more," said Thayer, "Look at the MCAS [Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Test] results. Teachers are meeting expectations. In the private world, they would be paid more proportionately [for their expertise]." However, Thayer did say that Concord teachers' salaries are competitive with other communities.
Thayer also gave his perspective on other issues within the school system. Special education was the biggest increase in the budget this year, as the town struggles to pay for services mandated by the state. He said the school system is committed to keeping special education students within the Concord schools as opposed to sending students out of town for services at a higher cost. Thayer also noted that the Concord school buildings are "tired, old and fragmented" and in need of attention.
After spending a year in the school system, Thayer said he is proud of the staff. "They are focused on students and are dedicated. We also have outstanding kids. They are very hard-working."
School committee chair Fred Wersan of Concord thanked Thayer and told the group, "Gene could have taken a caretaker role as interim superintendent but he invested in the job like he had ten years in the system." Member Nancy McJennett of Concord added, "I appreciated the honesty and leadership. We would not have pursued the override without a firm commitment from Gene." Carlisle member Cindy Nock noted, "Gene always put children first. He put effort into decisions and he made the right decisions."
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito