It seems like for the past year all our school department and our school committee have done is squabble. They've squabbled over which schools to close, they've squabbled over money or the lack there of, they squabbled over how well the department was doing. They squabbled over who should get the credit for the good, and who should take the blame for the bad.
Finally this January Superintendent Nick Fischer resigned his position and Mayor Correia asked the DESE to come to Fall River and evaluate our school system and now our school committee is squabbling over that!
The findings of the DESE team paint a bleak picture of how our school system is being run. The report is too lengthy to be discussed here in detail but can be found on the Fall River Public Schools website. To briefly cover some of the points in the report, they found that the school system is underfunded, the school committee is meddling in the management of the school system and is often uncivil at meetings, the district lacks a dedicated chief financial officer. A high turnover of superintendents! The school district lacks many mechanisms to identify and evaluate flaws. The list goes on and on.
Ironically, the report states that Superintendent Fischer actually did many things that improved our school system. That makes me wonder if we did not give him enough time to do the job and enough resources to do it right. Fischer's leadership certainly had major flaws but maybe we could have built a team around him to take advantage of his strengths and make up for his weaknesses. Hopefully our new Superintendent Meg Brown can fill all those voids.
We've been working to improve our school system for over a decade and now we find we're not moving ahead we're falling behind! We're failing the children of this city. In a letter to Mayor Correia the Commissioner of the ESE states that he would have recommended that they take over our school district if not for the Correia's effort to look for guidance. The initiative may be commendable but right now what our school system needs is a firm hand and strong leadership, that is unfiltered by political motivations and unhindered by squabbles. We need a clear plan and swift action to get us there.
Commissioner Chester we've had our chance to right the Fall River School system and we failed! Please, for the sake of our children, take over our schools.