D. John McCarthy for School Committee

Q. What three priorities would you like to accomplish in your term that aren’t being done right now? (Please answer in 150 words or fewer)

A.

  1. We have to get the budget under control. Year after year we see the budget grow, even as the number of students decrease. I would like to see zero based budgeting approach and a careful examination of contracts for teachers and others, the biggest expense in the budget.
  2. I would try to get the newly gained experience in distance learning applied when classes start again, especially in middle and high school, to offer our students access to subjects they can’t currently take in foreign languages and others. This will require negotiations with the unions.
  3. I will advocate options for students besides college such as vocational education, military careers, and dual enrollment programs. For college bound students offer early graduation at end of first semester in the senior year to give them a head start. It is also easier to get college admission in the Spring semester.
Posted 72 weeks ago

Paraprofessional Teachers, Do We Need Them?

Paraprofessional Teachers

A question that wasn’t addressed at the May 15, 2020 school committee meeting about furloughing paraprofessionals is why do we have them in the first place?

When I was in school, we didn’t have paraprofessionals and the class sizes were much bigger than they are today. Some of my friends that went to parochial school were in even bigger classrooms. Of course, in those days the nuns would hit you with a ruler if you weren’t paying attention, but corporal punishment wasn’t allowed in public school and we all got a good education.

Of course, there is an important role for paraprofessionals in the classroom these days that wasn’t true in the 50’s and 60’s. Way back in 1972 Massachusetts passed chapter 766 the first non-categorical law guaranteeing all students the right to a free appropriate public education. It served as a model for federal special education laws.

When I was in school there were students that needed special education, but they were kept together separate from regular classrooms. Today special education students are integrated into regular classrooms and it would be overwhelming for a single teacher to teach integrated classes like that. The paraprofessional provides invaluable help for them by giving the special education students the extra attention they need.

But, special education aside, why can’t classroom teachers handle their smaller classes? Do we need all of the paraprofessionals we have on staff, especially in classes without special education students?

Posted 74 weeks ago

Why Do We Have to Lay Off Teachers?

HWRSC Meeting April 2, 2020

At this meeting one of the members who was responding to comments at the beginning of the meeting said, and I am paraphrasing, that we told the teachers that even without a pay increase they would have to lay off teachers. The response from the union negotiators was they didn’t care.

This is nothing new. It happens in every union contract negotiation. The older teachers that are usually on the negotiating committee are often at the top of their steps and ladder pay grade so the only increase in pay they get is through a negotiated across the board pay raise. If you think that the union is one for all and all for one you are sadly misinformed. The union know that their contracts use the last in first out program for laying off teachers. The newest and lowest paid teachers get cut, but the old timers keep their jobs and get a pay raise.

You would think that the union would either ask for a raise for all with no layoffs to protect all the members, and if they couldn’t get it would forego a raise or even take a pay cut to protect all of their jobs. It just never happens.

One of the reasons that it never happens that way is not only is it the only way maxed out older teachers can get a pay raise; it impacts their retirement too. Teacher retirement is based on their highest three years so they always want to get as much money as they can at the end of their career to insure the biggest possible retirement check.

A bigger question is why does the school committee just insist that there be no pay raise. Our teachers are already among the highest paid in the area and yet they keep getting raises.

Posted 74 weeks ago

School Com.Meeting May 15, 2020

On Friday, May 15, 2020 the HWRD School Committee spent over an hour on the single motion to allow negotiations to go into a furlough program for paraprofessionals with an amendment to have it run through May 26th. The furlough would result in a savings of $108,000.00 for the cash strapped district. The amendment and the motion both passed.

I couldn’t believe that it took so long to debate what seemed like a simple motion, in fact I couldn’t believe that it took so long to even bring up the motion.  It seems that due to union contract constraints and the sharp learning curve of how to do distant learning that many of the paraprofessional were just reading a book and doing self-improvement at district expense instead of being directly involved in educating our students. While it is a good thing for them improve their skills through continuing education, that is something that they should do on their own time.The district used to and I assume still has programs to compensate them for the costs to take courses to improve themselves.

It would be one thing to keep them on them working if the paraprofessionals were actively involved in the distant learning program, assuming the union would allow it, but if we can save over a hundred thousand dollars in the short time remaining in the school year, how many hundreds of thousand did it cost to keep them on the payroll to date?

The committee spent most of the time asking questions about how the furlough will affect the furloughed paraprofessionals income, benefits, and even their retirement earnings? It is very important that we want to protect good district employees from losses to their income through no fault of their own because of the virus, but where was the concern for the citizens of Wilbraham and the Commonwealth, many of whom have their jobs and income.

Posted 74 weeks ago

New Middle School?

Some members of the school committee believe we need a new middle school. I wish that the subject was brought up when we were debating building a new high school. I never heard anyone take ab out it. That would have been the perfect time to build a new junior senior high school. That would have solved a lot of problems. Since the high school was built we have added on to the fire station, built a new police station next door, and now there is a movement for a new senior center. Where will it end? 

All of these buildings cost a lot of money, even when we get subsidies from the Commonwealth. Lots of citizens in town are older and if they are retired are on fixed incomes. 

It is bad enough that every year the budget committee automatically raises them by 2% because they can without a vote. Bond issues just add to the tax burden. At some point it just gets so expensive that the taxes are as high as mortgage payments for a small house in some places. 

We need to come up with other solutions.

Posted 75 weeks ago

Willbraham Republican Town Committee

Wilbraham is one of the few towns in the Commonwealth that still has partisan elections. I was nominated by the Wilbraham Republican Town Committee. As a Republican I believe we can provide our citizens with great schools, but at the same time we deserve lower taxes and efficient accountable government. 

Posted 75 weeks ago

2020 Absentee Ballots

Posted on: April 23, 2020Absentee Ballots Now Available

PRESS RELEASE

Town Clerk Carole J. Tardif announces that the absentee and early vote by mail ballots are now available for the upcoming Annual Town Election scheduled for June 20, 2020. A request in writing is required for obtaining an absentee or early by mail ballot.  An application to request an absentee or early vote ballot can be found on the Town Website and Secretary of States website.  Please call 596-2800, ext. 200 if you have any questions.  Absentee and early by mail ballots will be available until 12:00 PM on Friday, June 19, 2020.

Posted 76 weeks ago

Vote June 20, 2020

To few people vote specially in town elections. Not that long ago we had a selectman win by a single vote. Just think if a couple more people had bothered to vote we would have had a completely different result. So, please vote this year on Saturday, June 20th at the high school. Absontee voting is also an option if you’l be away on the 20th.

Please consider voting for me. I’ll do my best to insure our young people get a great education and do my best that the citizens that pay for it with thier hard earned money get the most value for their money by controlling costs and looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality.

Posted 76 weeks ago
tumblr photo
Posted 76 weeks ago

Isenberg

Going back to school after being away for over 20 years was a challenge. But, I have always believed in life long education so I took up the challenge. Isenberg offered an excellent on line program and the Financial Times rates it today as the best on line MBA in the nation. I because a big advocate of on line education based upon my personal experience. As a professional that traveled a lot I would work on why corses at night in my hotel room. I remember working on them in the Dublin Airport waiting for my flight home and another time in a hotel room in Rome.

Posted 76 weeks ago