SAU16’s Co-op Board met for their budget hearing the other night, and the Board got an earful from those in attendance. There was a proposal by Superintendent David Ryan to cut teachers, cut funding to Great Bay Charter School, and hire a STEM and Curriculum Coordinator.
The parents who spoke were having none of this.
Parents never asked for cuts to the teaching staff, they didn’t have an issue with funding the Charter School, and they never asked for more administrators. But that didn’t stop David Ryan from blaming others for his decisions.
The Board did one good thing, they reinstated the teachers, but they failed to cut the unneeded Coordinators and reinstate funding to the Charter school.
It was refreshing to hear parents who live in the district praise school administrators. However, that praise was aimed at the Great Bay Charter School administrators. Many of the parents from the Charter School who spoke shared how well their children are thriving, including the children with special needs.
Parent after parent spoke about how their children feel welcome in the Charter School, and are happy to go to school. They weren’t treated well when they attended some of the schools in SAU16.
One of the members of the Budget Advisory Committee brought the reality to the Board when she mentioned how 200 families had left SAU16, and how they spoke with their feet. These families were dissatisfied with what has been happening in the district. The glaring difference between the Charter School’s leadership and SAU16’s leadership wasn’t missed on this viewer.
Then came Andres Mejia the new DEIJ Director. (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice) He explained to the Board how he’s been talking to the children in the school who have had to deal with racism and homophobia. So while 200 families have left the district, he was letting the Board know that the kids he spoke with continue to have miserable experiences. What a difference between what he was reporting, and what Great Bay Charter parents were reporting. What’s the difference? Leadership.
SAU16 will pay the DEIJ Director $150k which includes benefits, to help some kids feel happy. At the same time, they will cut $80k from Great Bay Charter School, where many parents reported that their kids are glad to be there. Maybe the Board should replace David Ryan with those running Great Bay Charter, and watch them get the job done.
Then, after all of this, the Board asked how Mejia would have his performance measured. He said he would consult a peer in another district to see how they do it. After he figures this out, he will present it to the Board.
Some parents who work for private companies were shocked by this revelation. David Ryan hired DEIJ Director that makes more money than your average teacher just so he can help some of the kids feel better. Then he gets to determine how his performance will be measured. One mom mentioned that this was just another example of rampant mismanagement from the top. You can’t blame Mejia for capitalizing on incompetence.
Some of this reminds me of the self-esteem movement in the ’90s. Parents eventually rejected that fad so their schools could focus on academics. They wanted leaders who set the tone for the climate in the school in order to improve the culture and climate. Good leadership can accomplish that without this kind of reckless spending. You just need a leader who knows what they are doing. I believe SAU16 had that years ago under Mike Morgan — at least that’s what I’ve been told by many parents.
Taxpayers will see another hike in their taxes if this budget is passed, but where cuts should have been supported, that didn’t happen. Parents offered suggestions on cuts that wouldn’t hurt the quality of education, but again, that didn’t happen.
One parent made the brilliant suggestion that if children are left without a teacher for the day and sent to the auditorium, have one of those numerous administrators go teach them the lessons. It was a great suggestion because if there are not enough drivers, and packages need to be delivered, you will see managers at UPS delivering packages. Parents were not impressed that their kids have been sitting in auditoriums with no teachers while David Ryan was proposing teacher positions be cut.
Parents mentioned how academic achievement has suffered under this Superintendent, as well as school rankings. Now they will just have to pay more for all of this.