The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 27, 2009

School Committee should reconsider

To the Editor:

The School Committee has been working hard to make up a budget shortfall of $169K. The business manager resigned, a savings of $80K, leaving us short $89K. A consulting firm was hired to find a way to make up the gap without impacting classrooms. This firm advised that we consider shrinking administration; create shared responsibilities among principals, and consider a Superintendent / Principal, rather our current configuration.

The meeting generated comments and questions from the community as to how the responsibilities of a full time Superintendent will be covered, who will take on new responsibilities, and what will be lost as a result of these shifted jobs. The Committee offered little detail, deferring to the Superintendent to be hired as it is was not the job of the School Committee to make staffing decisions.

When asked if our current Superintendent had been consulted on ways to reduce the budget, the Committee didn’t respond. Why will the new Superintendent be responsible to make these decisions, but the current Superintendent (apparently) wasn’t consulted. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the current Superintendent in place to steer the school through major change? She knows the skills and abilities of faculty and staff and is best situated to facilitate effective restructuring.

The School Committee is burdened with a difficult task that’s guaranteed to bring more grief than gratitude. But it does seem that the Committee entered the meeting with a decision that they didn’t waver from, even after hours of input from residents, asking for some time to consider alternatives before making drastic change. The Committee seemingly waited us out and did not want to consider what we had to say. Our community raised some compelling issues that should have prompted consideration from the School Committee.

No doubt that change is hard, but this choice seems to be one that will generate the most upheaval for all stakeholders. Many of us feel unheard and unconsidered given the response of the School Committee to our questions and suggestions. Please reconsider this solution and incorporate some of the suggestions from the meeting into your next steps.

Christine Lear
Oak Knoll Road

Humor attempt in bad taste

To the Editor:

Last week’s Carlisle Comments “A Taste of Primary Rib” by Rick Blum actually left my family’s jaws agape with disbelief. While I understand that the column was written in an attempt at humor, I had long thought that the days when a person’s sex or ethnicity alone used as a punch line had ceased to exist. Some of Mr. Blum’s introductory comments were smile-worthy but pronouncing that both Martha Coakley’s strengths and weaknesses were the fact of her being “of the female persuasion” seemed sadly out of touch. So quaint and dated a comment did it seem in today’s world of Hilary, Pelosi et al that it really didn’t merit a letter of complaint to the editor on behalf of all the women in town.

However, Mr. Blum then moved on to Alan Khazei. In his opinion Mr. Khazei’s problem is that while he “seemed like a nice guy for an Iranian,” he is an Iranian. [aside:- For accuracy’s sake, Mr. Khazei was born in Pittsburgh. His father is an Iranian immigrant and his mother an Italo-American. He is eligible to run for President. Just how funny is that . . ? A president whose father wasn’t born in America!]

Nothing was said about the ethnic origins of either Michael Capuano or Steve Pagliuca; in fact the latter was mentioned as a rich, white guy (another example of humor, I think). Both names sound Italian but there were no jokes about mafia, calzones or Catholicism.

Today’s successful and hilarious political satirists poke fun at politicians by lampooning what they do and what they say rather than using the circumstances of someone’s birth as a punching bag. Unfortunately, Mr. Blum is not of that ilk. By merely pointing out twice in a negative way that Mr. Khazei is an Iranian, the specter of crazy, hostage-taking, Holocaust-denying Muslims was raised, despite the fact that Alan Khazei is as far removed from Ahmadinejad as Mr Blum is.

I enjoy a good laugh as much as the next person, but I do hope that if the Mosquito wishes to amuse me in the future, you will do so by not indulging in outdated modes of sexist and racist humor.

Susannah Vazehgoo
Orchard Acres

COA Thanksgiving

To the Editor:

On behalf of all the seniors who were served a most delicious turkey dinner on November 19 at the FRS Union Hall, the COA would like to thank COA board member Verna Gilbert and all the other board members and volunteers who helped check in everyone, set up, shopped and picked up the food, served, and cleaned up, and make this annual event such a great success! They are the backbone of these well-run monthly luncheons! Special thanks to Alice Hardy for the festive table centerpieces, and another very special thank you to Carlisle Tiger Scouts Pack 135 for the fabulous pine cone turkey favors. They both added a real Thanksgiving feeling to the day! We especially want to thank the Middle School Advanced Choir led by Music Director Megan Fitzharris Harlow, accompanied by Paul Huberdeau who entertained all with a wonderful repertoire of songs and sing-a-long selections for all to join in. Many thanks to Angela Smith who coordinated all the details for this group joining our Thanksgiving celebration.

As always, we appreciate the friendly hospitality of Reverend Diane Miller and staff at the FRS church who allow us space in their hall every month. Special guest was long-time Clark Farm resident Bobby Morrill who has recently moved to Groton. Bobby was presented with a collage of pictures of Clark’s Farm photographed by Director Kathy Mull’s husband, photographer Dan Mull. The COA wishes Bobby many new happy memories in his new home. The COA would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to the Friends of COA who made it possible for the COA to provide gift certificates for some of our seniors this holiday season. We also want to thank the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest and the Friends who help support this program. We extend our best wishes to all in Carlisle for a most meaningful Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season!

Kathy Mull and staff
Carlisle COA

Carlisle Comments crossed the line

To the Editor:

I just got around to reading my Mosquito and nearly fell out of my chair when I read Rick Blum’s “A Taste of Primary Rib.”

It was completely tasteless.

I am a young liberal person receptive to all kinds of humor. But, I think Mr. Blum crossed a few lines. I realize that he thought he was being funny – using a tongue-in-cheek style, but it just wasn’t funny at all. It was offensive, particularly his comments about Martha Coakley and Alan Khazei.

I am kind of surprised that you would print this and I look forward to seeing some kind of apology to all the candidates next week.

Alyson Becker

Disappointed in Carlisle School decision

To the Editor:

We were disappointed that the School Committee has voted to adopt a half-time superintendent/half-time principal model, apparently without consulting Marie Doyle, our highly experienced School Superintendent.

  By changing the administrative structure of the school without appropriate consultation, the School Committee has effectively forced Marie to leave. With a new school building on the horizon, it is folly and a complete disservice to the town and to the school to lose such a highly effective and experienced administrator who not only has made great strides for the school, but also has the institutional knowledge gained from shepherding the school building project for several years, one who worked tirelessly to get state funding and has been an integral part of all of the deliberations. With a complicated construction project going on in the midst of school, with small children all around, the school will need a full-time administrator able to devote the time to supervising the project and ensuring the safety of the students.

In the six years that Marie has been here, for her it has always been about the kids and their safety and we can’t afford to lose that now. If it is necessary to reorganize for long-term cost reductions, do it in a few years; not now. 

Laura Snowdon and Alex Parra
Bellows Hill Road


Disheartened by School Committee decision

To the Editor:

We are disheartened by the actions of our School Committee resulting in the resignation of Superintendent Marie Doyle last week. It appears that there was not adequate discussion between Marie Doyle and the committee regarding their budget concerns nor was Marie given ample opportunity to offer her solutions to our budget crisis.

Recently, the School Committee consultant’s recommendation to unionize our superintendent position with Concord met fierce public opposition and was quickly withdrawn. This fall-back recommendation seems equally weak as neither the consultant nor the committee can give us any specific facts on how our school will be positively impacted other than on the bottom line.

As a result, Carlisle has lost a great asset in Marie Doyle. Marie has proven herself to be a savvy leader with a keen talent for balancing budgets, identifying new initiatives and implementing programs and technology to keep our school at the high end of public school systems in Massachusetts. Aside from her financial and curricular expertise, she has also been the primary advocate for our school building project and her departure leaves many questions as to how this project will continue to fruition. Marie has also hired many excellent staff including both of our current principals. We stand to lose yet another valuable administrator if one of these women does not move into the new job.

We realize that difficult cuts need to be made to balance our school budget next year. Until Wednesday we had the experienced leadership in place to help us tackle this challenge. Applying Marie Doyle’s intricate knowledge of our budget to this process may have ultimately saved the town money as well as preserved an excellent administrative team. Because of the lack of adequate discourse between the School Committee, administration and our community, we will never know.

Hans and Mary-Lynne Bohn
Westford Street


Attend next School Committee Meeting

To the Editor:

After attending the most recent School Committee meeting, I was very disturbed at what I witnessed. There is an obvious lack of respect among the School Committee members. The body language and negative comments communicated between board members indicates we may have a dysfunctional committee. It appears that each committee member is not free to speak his/her position openly. There are many parents and residents who voted for each committee member on the School Committee expecting to be represented fairly. It appears this is not happening. I urge parents and residents to attend the next School Committee meeting being held on Wednesday, December 2, at 7 p.m. in the school library. Please get involved. There are major decisions being made that will change the way our school operates.

Laura Mullins Chelton
School Street

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