did you choose to settle in Portsmouth? Many
people have a simple answer to that question: for the schools.
you noticed that there is quite a bit of literary and political license being
taken by the unendorsed School Committee candidates Angela Volpicelli and
Marilyn King? Let’s look at their claims and then the actual facts.
I know the voters of Portsmouth have already
figured this out but for the record let me state that it is impossible to end
up with an overage of almost two million dollars, as claimed by the unendorsed
candidates. Let’s look at this more closely: They claim by tweaking curricula
and maximizing classes they were able to save all that money. We would have to cut approximately 30 teachers
to reach $1.5 million in savings. Not only that, but the School Committee has
absolutely no role in curriculum development as the School Committee charge is
to set policy. The truth is that the money that was “saved” came almost exclusively
from the residual savings that should be directly attributed to the very
difficult decision made by the previous committee, that decision being the
closing of Elmhurst school which Angela and Marilyn voted against but are they
happy to take the credit.
you know, we have not yet bottomed out from the state funding formula
reduction. I naively thought that the School Department would be allowed to
keep some funds to prepare for the funding cliff instead of handing it over to
solve the town sides issues. I would have liked to have seen the School
Committee replace some of the programs that have been reduced or eliminated
with that savings. Also, reduction of class size would have been a good move.
Next, let's look at the claim that Portsmouth
continues its status as a high performing or the new equivalent of high
performing. Remember the frequent praise over the years from all over the state
and region for our individual students, and all of those high performing school
designations we used to receive. In
contrast, we are now being listed by RIDE as only making “adequate progress”.
Here's another indication our system is in deep trouble: I call it the “Brain
Drain” and by that I mean how in the recent past we have lost the
Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and two Financial Directors (three if
you count the one we hired who just turned the job down). At the High School we
lost two Assistant Principals, plus the Athletic Director. We have also lost a
Middle School Vice Principal and a Melville Principal, not to mention the many
experienced teachers fleeing the system. I think this is indicative of a school
system with very poor leadership at the elected level.
The candidates brought forward by the Democratic
Town Committee are certainly poised and ready to right this ship. First, we
have Terri Cortvriend who has four years of School Committee experience,
including years as Clerk. She successfully took on the task of
finalizing the funding of the new gym. Emily Copeland and John Wojichowski both
have extensive personal and professional qualifications and have many years and
countless hours of volunteering for our system working closely with our staff. Volunteers
have really been the unsung heroes of our schools. Without them, field trips,
basic supplies, and even some major items would be even more difficult to
provide. Last but not least, Andrew Kelly brings a uniquely important
perspective as one of our own PHS graduates. He has been a student leader, a
dedicated volunteer, and an active participant in the political process serving
on many committees and associations to keep Portsmouth a town he and the other
endorsed candidates are proud to call home.
vote for our endorsed Democratic candidates on Primary Day Sept 11, 2012 and
get our school system back on track!