Friday, September 19, 2008

School Daze

School daze, school daze
Under Correria’s rule days
No money for readin' or 'ritin' or
'rithmetic

The budget situation is
making me
sick….



Cool crisp mornings and sleepy eyed kids waiting on the corner, sure signs that another school year has started. It’s funny to think that in neighborhoods dotted throughout the city this is the first time in over a hundred years where the start of the school year didn’t bring with it frenzied mornings and noisy playgrounds. For the folks who live near and around the 12 schools recently closed, the start of the school year has brought some tranquility.

Things are different however, for the Fall River School Department which is dealing with frenzied citizens and noisy school committee meetings. Here we are not even a month into the new school year and already all hell is breaking loose. The grand opening of 3 new super-sized schools has proved to be a logistics nightmare. Just weeks before the start of school teachers still had no idea where to report and office paras are still struggling to get a handle on all the files and records that have to be taken care of. At a time where the experts say small class size and small schools are the way to go, we seem to be moving away from both! We’ve replaced neighborhood schools with structures that resemble prisons.

Every school in the city is dealing with larger classroom sizes and staff reductions. Every principal has had to make the tough decisions on what to cut, while hoping to maintain a quality of education. I don’t think the opinion of the Fall River School Department has ever been lower (and that is saying something!) and I personally have never doubted the ability of our schools to provide a quality education, until now.

Our school department is in chaos and everyone is pointing a finger at Superintendent Dr. Nick Fischer, but there is enough blame to go around.

Let's start by blaming the Lambert administration for committing us to these new schools. I think new schools are great but not when they cost more to operate than all the closed schools combined. Of course that doesn't even include the costs for transportation that we are required to provide because now kids don't live near the school they attend. What is the cost of that transportation anyway? At one meeting it fluctuated from 1-1.7 million. The other day I heard someone say over 2 million, is that right?! I could do a whole blog post on new schools alone, but let's just end this by saying we should have really but more thought into this.

Let's also blame the current mayor. This year's school budget is 8 million less than the Superintendent had requested. It's 2 million less than last year! Even if you level fund the budget, that is provide the exact same amount as last year, the school department would have less money to spend on education. There are certain costs that are going to increase, (utility costs like HEATING, come to mind!), and now you have to find places to make cuts. While the Mayor was proposing a budget reduction for the school department he also proposed for them to pay a storm water runoff fee. So he's cutting their budget AND hitting them with additional costs. On top of that some health insurance costs have been transferred to from the city budget to the school department budget. Again, he's cutting their budget and hitting them with additional costs!

Let's not hold the school committee blameless! Back in February when they voted for the school reorganization plan there were questions about the true capacity of these schools. This is the night when you're making the decision and you're on the committee and you have no idea what the capacity is? Where's the oversight there? With barely a whimper they approved the Mayor's anorexic, (it's thin and makes me want to throw up), school budget. I think the real problem with the school committee is they, as a body, would rather criticize the administration than find solutions. Recently when several federal grants were being reviewed at a school committee meeting the committee questioned if these grants could be used to bring back staff that had been laid off. The Superintendent and his team advised the committee that the federal grants did not allow for funds to be used to pay for a position that had been paid for in the previous year through district funds. The Assistant Superintendent stressed that the administration had reviewed the grants for just that purpose but it simply is not allowed. It would seem pretty straight forward, but instead the administration was blamed for being ‘reluctant’ to review the grants and not following the directives of the school committee. This was a hostile display with members of the school committee dressing down the Superintendent during a public meeting. The school committee could have made their points respectfully and with civility but instead chose to embarrass the administration team during a public forum. If there is an adversarial relationship between the school committee and the administration, the school committee has to at least take some blame for creating it.

Of course the Superintendent has to take some of the blame. I’ve heard from several people that our Superintendent is moving the district in the right direction but, to put it mildly, Nick Fischer is not a people person. Cold, aloof, arrogant are all words that have been used to describe him, and I’ve seen enough of the man to know those words certainly fit, at least some of the time. For a guy who was brought in to fix the school system the first task should be to let the people who work for you know that they are part of the solution, instead it seems many who work for the school system feel that they are treated as part of the problem. Morale is hugely important and Dr. Fischer fails to connect with his employees. There have been lots of complaints that the school department is too top heavy and that should be examined. Dr. Fischer should have to justify where he is spending our money. (The school committee should also be comparing our structure and pay scale to similar communities.) Why have we spent so much on consultants? How did we end up short funding last year’s transportation budget? Certainly Dr. Fischer should be held accountable, but so should everyone else.


Related Links
http://www.heraldnews.com/education/x853542536/School-Committee-wants-to-bring-back-laid-off-teachers

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/local_news/x256662995/School-Committee-expecting-legal-opinion-on-grant-money

http://www.heraldnews.com/education/x256657660/Fischer-supporters-turn-out-for-School-Committee-vote

http://www.heraldnews.com/education/x993966504/School-budget-short-at-least-2-6M

http://www.heraldnews.com/education/x359563254/Fall-River-schools-aim-to-do-better-with-fewer

http://www.heraldnews.com/homepage/x292016389

100 comments:

Lefty said...

For those of you who have been waiting for a ‘school post’ I apologize in how long it has taken me to get this one together. I started working on this on the 13th! The topic is really a complex one. There is so much more I would have liked to have touched on but how long can a post go?

I’m looking forward to seeing what your opinions and thoughts may be. I’m also anticipating that this may be a topic that generated some heated discussion, so I want to lay down some ground rules.

1. Let’s try to stick to the topic at hand, since this is about the school department that shouldn’t be too hard.

2. I look forward to you sharing your opinion and adding to the discussion but please do not represent an opinion as fact. If it’s your personal belief, or a ‘fact’ that you cannot back up with a source, it is an opinion.

3. No personal attacks. If you don’t agree with other commentors fine, feel free to say so but respect that they are sharing their opinion.

4. Let’s keep the trash talk to a minimum. You can make your point without resorting to calling people thugs, crooks, druggies etc.

5. I will be policing the comment thread. You are welcome to share your opinions and views here; however, I get to decide what stays and what goes. I try very hard to let people have there say and have deleted very few comments. I’m just asking all of you to keep the conversation civil and intelligent.

Anonymous said...

Lambert's plan for these schools had 600 to 650 attending not 800 to 850. The capacity was changed by the new administration just a few days ago. The Lambert administration did not propose to close all the smaller schools that were closed this year. The 12 schools closed were closed by this administration. The Lambert administration also ponied up every year and gave money to the school department for one time expenses. The new administration has cut the budget and now charges off all types of expenses to the school department. These expenses use to be covered on the city side. I think we need to find out exactly what these expenses and are they directly related to student services. I bet you will find none. There has to be some one time expenses in this budget that the city can pick up in free cash to help educate the students of this city.

Lefty said...

Anon,

I agree it wasn't Lambert's intention to open these schools with 700-900 students but these schools are massive in size. We never should have built schools that were anywhere near capable of holding that many kids.

I was shocked when they said the new Slade (C.V. School) could hold over 700. About 8 years ago I talked to the principal at Slade and he showed me the plans for the new school and told me that it would encompass the old Slade and the Healy. That's 500 kids tops. Why/How did we end up with a school that can hold so many more?

But no matter who was mayor several of these older schools were going to have to close. You can't open up new schools without closing some old ones.

I believe it was the intention of the Lambert administration to keep the Belisle, Carroll, Laurel Lake, and Wixon schools open.

I also don't see Lambert cutting the school budget, and certainly not while adding additional costs.

Finding some one time expenses in the current budget that the city MAY pick up, is a good idea and one I hope a member of the school committee picks up on.

Anonymous said...

I believe the one time monies Lambert gave the schools for text books was the one correia crucified
him for in the audit scam.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a list of all the non-union administrative positions that Fischer has created since coming on board, along with the salaries and perks of each of those. This info must be available.They keep saying they trimmed 3 million from administration, but what they aren 't saying is that they added 5 million!

Lefty said...

anon 9:57 - I think you're right, but that shouldn't stop us from using one time monies if there is an area where we can do so.

Anon 10:09 - It would be interesting to review. I would guess a review of the yearly budgets might be the way to go. Copies for past years are probably available at the library. Problem is, that might not give you all the answers you're looking for.

Anonymous said...

Where to begin.... Basically, I think Lefty makes some very valid points and it is somewhat contrary to the popular "Let's bash Fischer for all of our problems." It is not to say that he does not bare some responsibility, but I think Lefty has nailed it on the head with his comments.

Anon 8:04 As far As Lambert, he may not have known that we were going to have so many students in the schools, but ONE of the reasons this has happened is because the new schools cost so much more to run that the system did not have the money to keep some of the neighborhood schools open. The money that it costs to heat/cool these buildings, as well as the transportation, cost so much more than the closing of 2 small schools, that the system was forced to close more schools to be able to pay for the new ones. Also as you pointed out, the health expenses that were once covered by the city side are now being covered by the schools.

Let's see...we have $3 million less than last year from the city (I believe) in addition the new schools cost more than the old schools, transportation costs have gone way up, we have step increases and cost of living adjustments and the schools are now covering the health insurance. This is why we are in trouble!!!

I put more blame on our illustrious state representatives for not bringing home the money and for continually allowing Fall River to be treated like 2nd class citizens, than Dr. Fischer.

I put more blame on the mayor for not valuing education enough to at least level fund education(although that would not have been nearly enough for schools to even keep what they had last year, never mind offer a world class education).

Although I think Lambert made some mistakes with one time funds (although I have no problems with the textbooks) and did not have the foresight to see what was coming down the road with the new schools, I do think he valued education and tried to give every last dime that he could.

That being said, Fischer is not blameless. Maybe, I am naive, but I feel like by hook or by crook he is going to get the money that he needs to give Fall River the bare minimum. That might be with fuzzy math. That might be by being sneaky. As someone who values education more than all else, I am not totally opposed to this. His contract has not been negotiated. I see it as him risking his job to bring Fall River the bare minimum of money that they need. In one breath, we complain there are too many kids in a class, and in another we complain that he has 15 FTE's more than he is supposed to.

What do we want?? Could more administration be laid off? I think absolutely and there are two on the leadership team that I think could go. One of which Dr. Fischer tried to get rid of in last year's budget, but the school committee voted against it - Director of Human Resources. It is not like we are looking for the best and brightest to hire. Year after year we are laying off.

I am very concerned what is going to happen come May, 2009 and the budgets start again. Where are we going to be? What will the state give us? What will the mayor give us? We cannot lose any more. Seven schools are underperforming, three of which have the Gifted and Talented kids in them so in my eyes that number is elevated more than it would be.

I was impressed at the Open House I went to this week and I left feeling positive about the education my children are getting, but something has to give. How much longer can we deal with less and less? Personally, I am going to be looking to the politicians to give the schools the proper money to fund education. When and only when that happens can fingers really be pointed at Dr. Fischer, I believe.

Anonymous said...

I just heard that Asst Superintendent MAeg Mayo Brown has her child in a newly created small 2nd grade classroom at the Silvia School, with a hand=picked teacher. Could this possibly be true??

Anonymous said...

Her 5th (I believe) grader is in the gifted and talented program, which are smaller programs.

Lefty said...

I rather like the idea of her having her kids in the public schools. Kind of a money where your math is thing.

FRC said...

Part of the problem is that the city did not follow its own plan.

In 2002, the UMass Dart. Center for Public Policy released a 15 year master plan for school construction and expansion.

http://www.umassd.edu/cfpa/docs/school_building.pdf

I won't go through all of the specifics, but what is described on the master plan is very different than what actually occurred.

It would be interesting to have a comparison of the requirements to qualify for the 90% School Building Authority funds, and see how Fall River exceeded those requirements.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, even the gifted and talented have 26 per class.

Phillomena said...

didn't fisher get a raise?

Anonymous said...

Fischer was hired three years ago at a salary of $155,000. He earns approximately $171,000 and would receive a contracted 5 percent annual raise on Sept. 6.


The contract also provides for Fischer to earn a $3,000 merit bonus if he exceeds the committee’s expectations.
He did not receive that bonus this year after committee members’ evaluations said Fischer met expectations rather than exceeding them.

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x359563638/School-Committee-leaves-Fischer-dangling

Anonymous said...

Does this blog have a source for ANYTHING other than THe Herald News?
Rehash is not "citizen journalism."

Anonymous said...

Fischer's 5 percent is $8550. THat is 50% of a paraprofessional's salary, and would put another set of hands in a classroom half time.That could mean that a kindergarten for instance, could go from having a half time assistant to a fulltime one,which would make a tremendous difference. I am sure he wouldn't donate back his raise, but if he did, I may even start to respect him. I don't get how everyone can condone bleeding the system dry with administrative salaries, while the kids get hurt more and more.

Anonymous said...

the salaries of the non-union administrators are out of sight! Look at Durfee, one principal at 140K, 2 assistants at over 100K apiece, Director of Bldgs and Grounds at 130K, then the 2 assistant superintendents at over 100K apiece. Enter the new Human Resources head at another 120K, the new CFO at over 100K. Does anyone remember when we had one Supeirintendent and one assistant superintendent? Why does Durfee need 3 principals and 4 vice-principals? The previous principal was making 95K and didn't bring along 2 assistants or refuse to take the job! Keep an eye on the position of the alternative HS principal, it has yet to be negotioated, but that also is getting a big upgrade to over 100K. Even the head of the nurses got a big upgrade to somewhere around 90K. Come on people, this is all happening under Fischer, WHY is our school committee allowing this to happen when class size is so high and even IEPs are being violated? I wish parents would bring it to a revolt. The mayor has created a monarchy.

Anonymous said...

The school budget is short by millions, we also suddenly find out that the state says that 7 city schools are in dire need of improvement. Lambert is not responsible for all the problems but a good deal of the problems started with him and Correia is doing his best to make the situation even worse!

Anonymous said...

Dear ANYTHING,

Does this blog have a source for ANYTHING other than THe Herald News?
Rehash is not "citizen journalism."

12:41 AM, September 21, 2008

If you look at past blogs you may not that lefty has references to many other sites in the posts. Also there are state websites referred to for many FACTS. Also I did not know there were rules for citizen journalism maybe you can enlighten us all for future reference since you are such a pro at it.

Anonymous said...

Correia has everything to do with this! Are You crazy? He vorted for the budget. He pushed for Nick Fisher to go into contract bargaining! And now the very best is that Correia claims that he only knew of the shortfall right before the meeting!!!! I don't believe that for a minute. I believe Correia is straight out lying to us. Just like when the Health guy from City Hall "resigned" Correia stated that it was for health reasons at first. Another LIE. Wake up Fall River or all you'll ever be is all you've ever been!

Anonymous said...

If you look at past blogs you may not that lefty has references to many other sites in the posts. Also there are state websites referred to for many FACTS. Also I did not know there were rules for citizen journalism maybe you can enlighten us all for future reference since you are such a pro at it.


Ah yes, liks to web sites, whole stories from the paper...anything other than doing your own reporting or research

Anonymous said...

This is just a short lesson from Robert's Rule of Order. Anyone who voted on the prevailing side of a question may move for its reconsideration. In light of all the events of the past week, shouldn't someone move for reconsideration of the motion to enter into negoiations with the Superintendent of Schools for a new contract? Mark Costa are you paying attention?

Anonymous said...

Dear liks,

Ah yes, liks to web sites, whole stories from the paper...anything other than doing your own reporting or research

7:52 PM, September 21, 2008

This is an opinion blog, comments are made based on facts and your opinion on the facts. My opinion is if you have either you should
continue to comment here if not you should probalby tune into wsar with the exception of ric oliveira.

Anonymous said...

To the point about Robert's Rules of Order, have you ever seen Correia debate at a School Committee meeting? They are supposed to go by Robert's Rules of Order to govern their debate as was pointed out to Correia by a member of the School Commitee but Correia's response, "It is the Chair's perogative to go with Robert's Rules of Order or tradition." Tradition whatever that means, I guess it is up to Correia to interpret. So the School Committee follows Robert's Rules of Order when it is convenient for Correia but when another School Committee member figures out how to use them to say or do something Correia doesn't want Correia can kill the debate and discussion and vote by citing tradition.

Anonymous said...

As a certified parlamentarian, I'm just shake my head in disbelief. The Mayor frequently injects himself into the debate. The chair is not allowed to do this. I'm amazed that the members of the School Committee allow him to interupt them when they have the floor. They certainly don't seem to have much courage.

Lefty said...

The Robert's rules thing is puzzling. How can any committee member know when they're going by Robert's Rules or by tradition? Truly puzzling.

Where does it state that the chair choses?

The point of the post is that the current state of our school system is the 'fault' of many people not JUST the Super, not just the former or current Mayor.

Talk to a teacher or para if you want a sobering dose of reality.

Anonymous said...

The problem stems from decades of micro-managing, political interference and the presence of a small, select, monied group who have had things their way for far too long. When education reforms were enacted in the mid-1990's they called for empowerment of teacher, site based decision making, and the inclusion of parents in the decision making process. This never became reality in Fall River. What we have is a paternalistic style of leadership where all decisions are made from the top down often by politicians and their financial backers. It is that enviornment that led to the selection of the present Superintendent. He could not function where there was true accountability to the citizens of the community. Yet, the School Committee will keep him because he suits their agenda.

Anonymous said...

This is an opinion blog, comments are made based on facts and your opinion on the facts. My opinion is if you have either you should
continue to comment here if not you should probalby tune into wsar with the exception of ric oliveira.


The only reason I'd tune in to Ric Oliveira is to listen to his hilarious version of standard English

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:02 PM, September 22, 2008

You obviously did not read the statement nor have you added any
value to the post:

This is an opinion blog, comments are made based on facts and your opinion on the facts.

Anonymous said...

You obviously did not read the statement nor have you added any
value to the post:

This is an opinion blog, comments are made based on facts and your opinion on the facts.


And the facts, in general, are the result of someone else's reportorial work.

Anonymous said...

Ok you are entitled to your opinion so move on unless you actually have something worthwile to say.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Correia has created an absolute monarchy. Don't be fooled by Marc Costa's nomination of Raquel Pellerin to take over as CFO. THe mayor acted surprised and the superintendent was insulted, but I believe it was all planned out before hand. Correia wants his guy in there providing oversight and control over the school budget and Costa was the one who brought it up for him. God help this school system, they are all into their ego trips, Fischer, Correia, etc. NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE KIDS.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Pellerin already work for the school dept and get a big job working for the city? Now they want her to go to the school dept as cfo?? What grants if any did she actually obtain for the school??

Anonymous said...

Prediction: Costa is going to pay for his recent decisions in the next election. There is no doubt about it! By the way, he is a new probation officer at the Fall River District Court. OUT WITH COSTA!!

Anonymous said...

Raquel Pellerin has worked for the city for 15 years and 10 of it has been in budgeting. She seems much more competent than most city employees. Evidently, the mayor thinks that Fischer and Meg Mayo Brown have raided the coffers and are keeping secrets. Which is undoubtedly true and this Pellerin person is his envoy to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Anonymous said...

How can they let trained masters level mental health professionals, some of whom are LICSW's and LMHC's function as paraprofessionals? At least 2 hours out of a 6 hour school day, these counselors are not available to students, because they are being used to fill the gaps left by the massive layoff of paras. They do breakfast and lunch duty, recess duty, dismissal and bus duty, jobs previously done by the laid off paraprofessionals. The adjustment counselors have a rate of pay at approximately 40 dollars and hour, while the assistants make around 10 dollars an hour. This is stupid! Not only that, what about the time that the counselor is not available to students, which is as much as 3.5 hours a day in some elementary schools! Does anybody care about that at all?? Apparently the administration and the school committee are ok with it. I wonder how the parents and taxpayers feel.

Anonymous said...

It is time for the parents in this school district to rally together at the next school committee meeting and let this Mayor and school committee know that we are going to fight for our children's education. This budget was just passed and now a few months later we are millions of dollars short. They cannot even figure out how short it could be from 1 to 5 million. This is ridulous and we need to act fast our education system is at stake.

Anonymous said...

Anon, are you saying that you are upset that LICSW's and LMHC's are pitching and helping when needed to maintain order and safety in the schools? OK, the paras are not there to do those duties, so shouldn't everyone help out when they can? It would be great to see 100%productivity for those higher paying jobs, but if safety is what is needed between sessions with students, that's ok with me. You mention that 2 our of 6 hrs. are spent doing duties formerly performed by paras. That leaves 4 hours of productivity. (what were their productivity rates for the past 4 years based on a 6 hour day, i.e. # of students counseled?)Besides, would students on their caseload typically miss breakfast,lunch, recess, or dismissal time to work with their LICSW, or LMHC?? Traditionally, what have the LICSW's and LMHC's done when the students they are supposed to work with were absent? I would think they would offer their assistance wherever it is needed. Isn't that just commonsense....

Anonymous said...

Exactly how do you plan to fight for our children's education at a school committee meeting? Have you ever been to one? There is not much of an opportunity for fighting for education! I think it is great to have a presence and a plan, and speak during citizen input. Many more people should do that. Unfortunately, don't expect a response.

Someone Who Wants To Know said...

Does anyone know where I can get a list of all of the School Dept. employees with their salaries? I'd like to see how many high salaried administrators are out there.

Anonymous said...

Salaries of all public employees are a matter of public record. They are part of the school budget which is available on line at www.fallriverschools.org Since Dr. Fischer's arrival there has been an increase in administrative slaries of close to $5 million dollars.

Anonymous said...

Common sense is what is lacking when a trained service professional is taken away from doing what they are trained to do. What's next, tell the school nurse not to give insulin because there's no one to monitor recess? IT IS NOT COMMON SENSE! That is like taking a licensed plumber and paying him 120 dollars an hour to clean the bathroom.

Anonymous said...

I hope people realize how hard all staff in the schools are working. Everyone IS pitching in!! It is a crisis!! There are too may children and not enough adults. There are way too many adults on Rock St, Hartwell St and Ad South!! Get some of them off their posts and have them go to the schools one day a week and pitch in!! Maybe Mr Mayor can go back to his roots and spend some time in the middle schools teaching and monitoring the cafeteria. The only school committee person who seems to go to the schools is Marilyn Roderick, but she certainly doesn't pitch in! Time to change that, we are in CRISIS!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what school system Mrs. Roderick visits because if you listen to her comments at school committee meeting everything is beautiful. It's time she returned to being the person who nearly became mayor many years ago.

Lefty said...

I agree Anon 6:56, teachers and staff are working very hard to overcome the burden placed on them. Of course it's not ideal to have counselors covering hallway duty, recess duty, lunch etc. But the principal of the school has to figure out how to keep the ship running. It is a crisis!

How do we fight for the education of our children? We start by getting our school committee to compare what we're doing in Fall River to what's being done in similar communities. The committee should then scrutinize our excesses. If we have more admin, why? If we pay more, why?

If this reveals that there is fat to be trimmed great! If not, is will make the case for better funding.

I would go one step further and say that the committee could create a special task force (unpaid!) to do this. The task force would consist of committee members and members of the community. The members of the community should be parents from various schools or other concerned citizens.

Anonymous said...

Now you are talking about what education reform called for back in 1993. Some how it never really made it from Beacon Hill to Fall River. Maybe it's waiting for commuter rail to bring it here.

Anonymous said...

yeah, between that and the new bridge, we should be in fine form for a state takeover

Anonymous said...

Rise up! If you really want what is best for the children of Fall River, their future, and the future of the city, Rise up! Some talk about going to school committee meetings, good idea, but that means you really have to show up...when it is inconvenient and you are in the middle of life at home with the kids...get the dates and plan it. If you speak at citizen input it is your chance for the public, and the council to hear your concerns. Accurate descriptions with qualifying data whenever possible usually cannot be argued. Also, it could be a time to point out inconsistencies in reports that have come up at meetings, let them know that you do listen, and you are not stupid. They cannot just talk about money like it is there one minute, gone the next, and no one notices. Also, remember the budget was a figure mayor gave the school committee, and told the administration to make cuts to work within the budget. When the middle and high school principals had to get up at the meetings and present how they would impose their cuts in the course of the budget process, it was most unfortunate to hear that world languages would no longer be offered to 6th grade students at some middle schools. That is one cut that stands out in my mind, but there are so many more. We are now seeing the effects of these cuts. The school committee (who voted on these cuts)and the administration need to hear how these cuts are affecting students, day to day, and how they will affect them in the future. If everyone comes in, one after the other, maybe, just maybe you will be heard.

Anonymous said...

Yeah maybe if 9,000 of us sign a petition the Mayor will listen. Oh wait, already tried that and it didn't work. Here's what you do, you find smart people you can support and you volunteer for them and vote for them in 2009. 20-30% voter turnout isn't going to lead to any changes, 50% or more maybe.

Anonymous said...

Good point anon 548!! The city side already tried that, if they want to try it on the school side go for it, with all the politics being played they won't get as far as a big voter turnout in 2009!
The election is much closer than you think and it will be quicker and the mayor can't control what you do in the voting booth.

Erin B

Anonymous said...

The mayor is full on in favor of Raquel Pellerin taking over the CFO position. That will give this mayor absolute power!! Although I do think there has been major monkey-business with Dr Fisher and Ms Brown, and someone competent and above board needs to go in there and fix things. It just worries me that it is the mayor's puppet. His kingdom will be nearly complete when he gets his paws on the school budget. When Fisher made the decision NOT to consult the school committee last year and change the scope of the audit in his unilateral decision, that was a clue that they have a lot to hide. The audit company could not do any audit because the school administration could not (or would not) provide them with any valid figures. Now with Raquel in there, they will indeed uncover all the dirty laundry. I hope it is exposed as it truly is.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see and to hear what will take place at tonight's special school committee meeting. If the budget is already out of balance by 2.6 million dollars, may be it was big enough to begin with. That's what happens when you pass a political, not an education based budget. The Mayor was already on the radio this morning and it sounds like he is getting ready to blame Dr. Fischer. Really, these two deserve one another.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention calling residents that put their trash out a day early idiots. Basically it there fault there are rats in the neighborhood. I understand that we should all be responsible and keep our neighborhoods clean I totally agree but don't blame everyone else for the city of fall river's problems. You wanted to be mayor and the just do it mayor so just DO it and fix the potholes and rodent problems.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this blog for the school department? Not for trash and rodents.... but they are not that far out of line in talking about rats in the school dept, and trash either, for that matter. Let's get these folks to post on the other blog pages and save this one for the schools, we sure have enough going on to keep it going!!

Anonymous said...

First of all, let me say that I can't believe that no one is posting on this blog over the rainy weekend when there is so much going on in the school dept even as we speak, they are cutting the same budget for the second time!!! Who will be left in our schools? They are recommending cutting guidance out of the middle schools. That is crazy!! I was at the meeting last spring when the mayor stated that the cuts wouldn't be made in student services, and now look at what is happening!!

I watched the school committee meeting from Friday night. It's a little hard to decipher all the political goings-on, but you can read between the lines. The mayor is a dictator who quietly and definitively gets done what he wants done and only what he wants done. Thank God for Joe Martins who at least has the balls to confront the mayor. No one else seems to be able to do that in such a nice way. I do believe Mr. Martins speaks for the average person, and that his heart is in the right place. Although Aguiar and Cadime continue to confront the superintendent and company, they seem to have their own political agendas underlying all they do. Then you have Roderick, McCoy and Costa who are the peace-makers and vote with the mayor all of the time. It is definitely time for change on that committee. Unfortunately, it won't come fast enough to save our schools.

Here are some things I learned:

They are proposing to cut 5 clerk positions, but in order to save certain people, the administration takes them out of the clerk union and elevates them to high-salary positions. It has happened as late as 2 weeks ago when one of them received a $20K raise. This is done during this financial crisis and also during a hard hiring freeze! Go figure. As late as Thursday, another clerk was hired by administration. Now if they are cutting five, why are they hiring at all? Does anyone smell something fishy here? Who said that under Fischer, our school dept is no longer political? WRONG!!

Dennis Sullivan has a lot of explaining to do. In fact,he needs to be fired, he is simply not up to the job he has. Evidently, we have $74,000 dollars in electric bills that he has not paid since 6 months ago!! BUT he never told anyone until 2 days ago!! Now that is screwing up the next year's budget!! He also failed to estimate the cost of utilities for the current year in such a grave way that he budgeted 0 dollars for the new Fonseca School, and a ridiculously low figure of $46K and$59K for the Letourneau and Viveiros schools respectively. In contrast, the other large elementary schools, Spencer Borden and Greene, have been using well over $200K for utilities, so you can see that it is just pure incompetence on his part. This guy has a degree in English, so let's keep him making a whopping $130K and let him keep screwing up doing a job he is not trained to do!! He already imploded the transportation dept, now he's not paying the bills, and he doesn't allocate money for the utilities of the new buildings!! What is wrong here, people??

By the way, the mayor mentioned that the school department is the only department in the city that doesn't pay its bills, and because of this, we cannot negotiate a reduced rate for electricity! More money out the window. We are letting high paid incompetent administrators bleed our children's ecudational system dry.

They are now estimating the deficit at 3.5 M after 3 months of school, and if we let this go as is, it will be 5M soon.

Two final points:

The custodians have not received the raise they had negotiated, so they have no idea where they are getting that money from, it was not in this year's budget. That is 6%. There are 99 custodians and over 20 maintenance people that this affects. Again, that is Dennis Sullivan's Department. Anyone see a pattern here?

Finally, the head of Human Resources is also in deep doo because he agreed to pay health benefits to laid off employees for the months of July and August. The mayor chastised him publicly stating to him repeatedly, "Mr. Martinson, the money you paid to these employees came from our children, it came from our children, that's who's paying for it, Mr. Martinson." OUCH!!! I actually felt sorry for Gus, he seems like the only nice guy in the administration. But I am sure he'll be gone soon. It just doesn't seem fair that will all the corrupt goings-on, a nice guy like Gus will take the hit.

Dump Fischer, Sullivan for sure, ASAP, like yesterday, and vote in an entirely new school committee!

Lefty said...

Anon 10:03,

Great comment! Currently my schedule doesn't allow me to attend the school committee meetings and I never seem to catch them on TV.

I do share your concerns about Sullivan. It seems that whenever I hear that something was under budgeted, his name is in there somewhere.

If you were to fire Fischer who would you replace him with? I've talked to people who are pretty knowledgeable on this, and they insist he is directing us in the right direction. I have severe concerns about our administrations abilities to find a replacement.

I think the word CRISIS fits pretty well. I am concerned that what is taking place today is going to have an effect on the school department for many years. What do we do?

I think just like our home finances, we need to look at what we absolutely need and start cutting out the extras. I think we need to raise some cash by selling the surplus school buildings. That money should be used for one time expenses and the City Council should enact policy that future tax money collected be earmarked for the school department. We can't keep cutting from the classroom, and we can't keep tolerating poor management, whether it's on the part of Dr. Fischer, Mr. Sullivan, or the Mayor.

Anonymous said...

I watched the meeting too, Sullivan didn't even bother to show up and Martinson's performance was a joke, sorry to put it that way but it was so bad that he should've been fired on the spot, I don't care how nice he is because he came across as incompetent, he couldn't even answer the simplest questions from the School Committee and admitted a number of times that he came to the meeting unprepared.

As far as Mayor Correia goes who do you think was the one that brought out the utility bills weren't paid by Sullivan as well as many other things including the fact that it appears that the School Department intentionally tried to dodge the laws requiring them to put textbooks out to bid by continuously placing orders for just under $10,000. Doing it that way circumvented the bidding process and the need for approval from the School Committee. That's very serious in addition to everything else you mentioned but the Mayor said he would investigate and in fact his investigating is what uncovered everything else that you mentioned.

I have not been a fan of Mayor Correia but this issue isn't political and it is as the Mayor said a number of times during the meeting, it is about the children. He did a good job at the last meeting questioning the administration and it was nice to see that maybe he is having a change of heart. I was also proud of Mark Costa, Joe Martins and Shawn Cadime and Kevin Aguiar for the well thought out questions that they asked the School Administration. Tim McCoy unfortunately demonstrated that he didn't grasp a whole lot judging by his questions and Marilyn Roderick didn't even bother to show up. If there is a need for change on the School Committe is it those 2 that really need to be thrown out but Marilyn Roderick has been around forever and unfortunately will never lose.

Anonymous said...

Just so people know, you can watch the school committee meetings on demand on your computer whenever it's convenient for you. Go to www.fredtv.us Click on the picture of the dvd player on the bottom left where is says "click here to view schedule", that opens up the door and click on "schedule". If you search for "school committee", you can watch all the old meetings as well as the current ones! It's so much fun!! And thanks to the Durfee students who tape and post them for us!

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see and to hear what will take place at tonight's special school committee meeting. If the budget is already out of balance by 2.6 million dollars, may be it was big enough to begin with. That's what happens when you pass a political, not an education based budget. The Mayor was already on the radio this morning and it sounds like he is getting ready to blame Dr. Fischer. Really, these two deserve one another.

11:43 AM, September 26, 2008


Anonymous said...
Not to mention calling residents that put their trash out a day early idiots. Basically it there
5:51 PM, September 26, 2008

Dear Anon,
Isn't this blog for the school department?
12:09 PM, September 27, 2008

You are correct we started to get off topic but it was in regards to the comments below which are related to the school dept:

That's what happens when you pass a political, not an education based budget. The Mayor was already on the radio this morning and it sounds like he is getting ready to blame Dr. Fischer. Really, these two deserve one another.

Anonymous said...

And the Mayor did end up blaming Fischer and his administration if you watch the meeting.

A few weeks ago when there was talk about whether or not to enter into talks to renew his contract Fischer was great but now this. What a difference a few weeks make as well as the revelations that the school budget isn't balanced and many schools are still underperforming. Where is Dr. Sbrega and Jean MacCormack now? Probably at home with egg on their faces.

Seems like the Mayor is finally hip to the fact that Fischer needs to be held accountable. I don't care that it took him this long I am just glad he finally came around. Maybe there is a chance now that WSAR will finally come around too.

I'm not saying necessarily to fire Fischer just to hold him accountable and spare us all the nonsense about how he walks on water. I agree with previous bloggers though that Fischer's staff like Sullivan and I think his name is Martinson need to be fired. Martinson I believe is the one that fell apart completely at the last meeting. Watch this Martinson guy at the meeting, it was bad!

Anonymous said...

People like Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Martinson have their jobs because they are good at following Dr. Fischer's orders. If you are going to fire the "Yes Men", get rid of the man who gives them their marching orders as well.

Anonymous said...

Fischer hates Martinson. He tried to get rid of him the last cut but the committee brought him back.

Anonymous said...

I just heard that Joe Camara just got his sister-in-law a clerk job at Durfee HS paying somewhere around 35K. Is this true? Why is this allowed to happen during a hard hiring freeze? The mayor said he's not going to sign the checks for anyone to be paid that is newly hired. Who said that FR School Dept isn't political any more? HAHA

Anonymous said...

Yup that's why the Guidance Dept is headed by someone with 2 years of experience. Not politics, she was the best one for the job... NOT.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe Dr Fischer referred to her as "enthusiastic". That's why she was chosen.

Anonymous said...

Camara has been an "enthusiastic" supporter of the Mayor. It would be interesting to verify if in fact that enthusiasm has been rewarded in the form of jobs for family members. It would be nice to be able to substantiate it as a fact since rumors are so prevalent in Fall River politics. Time for some citizen journalism.

Anonymous said...

This type of manuever needs to be
'outed" we need the names and departments verified. also was this not addressed at the school committee meeting=continuing to hire when there is a hiring freeze and major deficit???

Anonymous said...

Does anyone actually know his sister-in-law's name? Wouldn't that be a good place to start, just to call the high school and to ask for her? If they say she works there then you'd have your proof. And yes this would be important considering the mayor made a big deal at the last school committee meeting about hiring new people, he said it shouldn't have been going on, the committe had implemented an unofficial hiring freeze and he wasn't going to sign any of the necessary documents to pay for new hires. He said all of this but does that mean he wouldn't pay Joe's relatives or do they get an exception?

Anonymous said...

Well provide her name and I will call, this is just blatant favortism. The audacity to actually go ahead and hire her after all that has gone on with the school dept recently.

Anonymous said...

I believe her name is Terry and she works in the office somewhere at Durfee, She was a paraprofessional last year and got laid off, now she is back and making more than double her previous salary, while there are 4 clerk jobs that they are proposing to cut. That was brought up at the meeting right at the beginning by the head of this union, who spoke during the citizen input time, and she did bring up this particular position as the one that was newly hired. If I'm not mistaken, these jobs are civil service jobs. It should be easy to verify.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fallriverschools.org/clericalvacancies.cfm

Clerical Vacancies

Job
Posting #
Vacancy Posted End Date Dept
08-CL-0195 Clerk/Steno 9/22/08 Until Filled
Henry Lord Middle School

08-CL-0194 Clerk 9/15/08 Until Filled
SPED Dept. Durfee High School

08-CL-0170 Part Time
Sub. Call Assignment
8/13/08 8/29/08 Payroll
Closed

Anonymous said...

You guys are upset that someone got a job that pays 35K???

You should be upset that someone has to live on 35K.



How petty some of you are....jealous of someone making 35K.....ridiculous. You should feel pity for her not jealousy.

Anonymous said...

The fact that many people lost their jobs and now someone who is politically connected gets a job during a hiring freeze is not petty. Yes it's sad that there were people making half that salary but the fact remains that person lost their job so this person could get one when it has been made perfectly clear they were not to hire anyone .

Anonymous said...

I'm not upset that someone got a job paying 35k, I'm upset it was someone politically connected and during a hiring freeze and during troubling budget times for the school department.

It is upsetting that people have to try to live on 35k but there are plenty of people out there who would be willing and able and qualified to take the job and would want it even at 35k specifically because of these difficult economic times but instead it went to someone that was "connected."

No one is jealous of this person and the pity should go to the qualified hardworking slobs that were passed over simply because of someone's connections.

Lefty said...

Whoa!

Nobody has even confirmed this! Even if a relative of Camara's were recently hired that doesn't necessarily mean it was because of him pulling some strings.

Fall River is not that big, and I imagine people either know, or know somebody who knows one of our local politicians. Does that make EVERY hiring suspect?

I'm not saying it didn't happen, but that this is all speculation without an ounce of supporting fact.

Anonymous said...

So let's get the supporting facts if they are out there. What's her name and does she or doesn't she work there?

Anonymous said...

The name is Terry Michael and she was recently hired at Durfee into a clerk job. She was laid off last spring out of a paraprofessional position. The clerk job pays twice as much as the para job.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's not a rumor.

Anonymous said...

I understand the premise of the outrage. But I can't help feeling bad for this woman who is just trying to make a living. Should she have declined the position after being laid off? What is she has kids to feed?

Lefty said...

More importantly, how do you prove that she didn't get her job by legitimate means? I don't want to drag this person through the mud simply because of suspicion.

Anonymous said...

I agree, let's ask her how she got her job, was it brother-in-law Joe who pulled strings or was it based on merit?

I think the suspicion comes in because it is supposed to be a hiring freeze, I would question as to how anyone gets hired during an alleged hiring freeze? Her family ties may have nothing to do with it, maybe she was hired based on merit during a hiring freeze? That does sound odd when you say it out loud though.

I think this is an interesting question if only because people hate even the appearance of nepotism, it's one of the oldest and most despised issues in politics. Let's be sure nepotism didn't take place.

Anonymous said...

Here's another rumor circulating: The FRPS are going on a 4 day work week to save costs and cut the budget. Could this work? What about parents and child care?

Anonymous said...

I've not heard that rumor. I thought the long term goal was to make the school day 1 hour longer in all city schools.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it wouldn't work, there is already an extended day in some schools, what would they do, get out at 5:30 pm? Can kids actually learn anything at all after being in class since 7:30 AM? There's no way it could be done without eliminating the extended day schools.

Anonymous said...

Schools is Massachusetts would save no money on a four day school week. State law requires a minimum of 180 instructional days AND a minmun 990 instructional hours at the high school level and a minimum of 900 instructional hours at the elementary level.

Anonymous said...

The issue is not reducing the number of hours we would go to school. It is reducing the number of days in a row that you would attend. If you only have to bring your boilers up to the heating level for habitation 4 days a week instead of 5, you will save on heat because the other three consecutive days, you can leave them down at 50 or 55. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Would the money saved on heating be greater than the cost of running the air conditioning units in a number of schools including the high school and all of the new elementary schools that have opened this year and over the past several years?

Lefty said...

I don't think you'll see a 4 day school schedule. The savings would be negligible. After all you would need to keep the building warmer for a longer part of the day. Also kids would be walking home at night.Parents would have issues with child care on the '5th day'. I think there are more problems than benefits.

I think AC in schools is great and a good investment, but I don't get why the windows can't be opened! Why air condition a school in early spring? or the dead of Summer when the building is mostly empty?

Anonymous said...

As soon as the a/c is turned down at Spencer Borden, you can see the mold growing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason that the School Department Budget is in the red is because they didn't put in enough green(backs) to begin with. Franklin said that in this country voters get the kind of government they deserve. That may be true, but the children in this city deserve much better than this. November 2009 can't come fast enough.

Anonymous said...

I realize that these are difficult times for the School Department, but it is truly sad that the first position of actual academic leadership to be conisidered for the elimination is the Director of Fine Arts. It seems that we continue to labor under the false notion that the fine arts are a just an extra. The current Director of Fine Arts is presently doing the work that was done by three people four years ago. The music and arts programs in the Fall River Public Schools has produced a number of skilled and talented individuals who have won such notable awards as Grammies, and Tony Awards. I know that this is not a popular position to take, but perhaps we might consider what John Adams, our Second President had to say about the importance of the arts in the life of our country.
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain." ~ For the record I have no connection to Fine Arts Department in the School Department. I'm just someone who thinks the arts are very important.

Anonymous said...

Meg Mayo-Brown has a second grader at the Silvia School with a class size of 17. This class was hand-picked and contains no IEP students. The teacher was also hand-picked by Ms Mayo-Brown. I also heard that Ms Cynthia Keene has her daughter in this same class at Silvia. This is while other schools are bursting at the seams with class sizes over 30, the 2 assistant superintendents have their daughters in a small class with a special teacher they chose, and also with other classmates without behavioral and learning problems. HOW CAN THE PARENTS OF FALL RIVER LET SUCH BLATANT AND IN YOUR FACE FAVORITISM BE PERPETRATED BY THE ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENTS?? A full-scale investigation must be done at once!!

Anonymous said...

The Mayor has proposed cutting a number of positions. While the numbers add up to a considerable amount of money, I wonder if he knows what the people in some of these positions actually do, especially those who have direct supervisory responsibilities for classroom instruction?

Anonymous said...

Fall River ---the "We'll Try" city. Tonight, one of the most important school committee meetings facing this community in a long time---was televised on FRED TV (Comcast channel 17)WITH NO AUDIO!!!! We could, however, watch (but not listen to)a bunch of "talking heads." Maybe it's a blessing in disguise???
Why is it that nothing in this community can get done right???
I'm so very tired of, "Oh well, we tried..."

Lefty said...

I think the online version works fine.

Try www.fredtv.org

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you. However, my concern lies with the bulk of the community that may not have access to (high-speed)internet. EVERYONE should be watching this...

Anonymous said...

nice to see how concerned you are about viewing the school committee meeting, if you were really concerned however, don't you think you could haveve at least shown to the committee and community your "real" concern with the deficit and at least showed up to the meeting as a least a good 90 people that really care did! I agree this was a very important meeting and it's pretty sad that in a school system in the thousands, these meetings aren't filled to capacity!
guess that's the problem with this city, everyone wants change, but no one wants to get off their rear ends and get things done! everyone wants things handed to them.. point and case! so sit on your couch and watch it on tv and just let everyone else continue to make the decisions for you! and yes I do understand people work and are elderly and/or disabled, and can't make these meetings for legitimate reasons, but there's also a lot of others that could and should!

Anonymous said...

Sorry I was at political time for joan menard and couldn't make the meeting , this was more important and must have been an "oversight" when I was doing my schedule. I can only fit in so many photo ops in one day.

Anonymous said...

fallrivertalks.com

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/local_news/x1420955427/Coast-Guard-drill-practices-oil-spill-reaction


Newly christened Fall River Harbor Master Roland Proulx


Newly christened Fall River Harbor Master Roland Proulx said he hopes to have discussions with the Coast Guard about the city securing their own oil spill boom.
“We are usually the first ones on the scene and it would be great to have something to work with,” said Proulx.

E-mail Jay Pateakos at jpateakos@heraldnews.com.

I've never heard of him, but a few phone calls revealed the following:

a) He collects his City Retirement.
b) He still works police details for the city.
c) His wife works for the police department
d) He has been getting paid as an Assistant Harbormaster
e) He provides expert consulting to the ZBA (zoning board of review)
http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x1306200342
f) He runs a full time business consulting for insurance companies:
Roland Proulx , Crashtech Accident Forensics
PO Box 230
Fall River, MA 02722-0230
Profile:
Providing accident reconstruction & related services to insurance companies, attorneys & municipalities. Our experts consists of current & former police officers, first responders & other experts with specialized training. We offer rapid and reliable response nationwide. Ask us about our competitive Flat-Rate Mail-In Service.
g) He's attended most, if not every Correia function.

I guess this would be considered waterfront development.

Natarajaprabhu said...

hi friends,
I think this is a proper job site which provides better jobs for anyone. But search Jobs In Bangalore gives better jobs for people of India.