Friday, January 30, 2009
"Northampton Superintendent a Finalist for Top Amherst Education Job" By Mary Carey, Daily Hampshire Gazette.
AMHERST - Northampton's superintendent is one of three finalists for the top schools job in Amherst.
Isabelina Rodriguez, superintendent of schools in Northampton since 1994; Alberto Rodriguez, a principal in the Miami-Dade school district; and David Sklarz, superintendent of schools in West Hartford, are contenders for the Amherst post, officials announced this morning.
Amherst Regional School Committee members interviewed semi-finalists last weekend from a pool of 20 applicants.
"These three, I think, are very interesting, " Andrew Churchill, chairman of the Amherst School Committee, said this morning. "I think it's going to be a really good array of choices for the community to give us input on."
Sklarz has run an extremely high-performing district in West Hartford," Churchill said.
Alberto Rodriguez has served in one of the most diverse districts in the Miami area and overseen 55 schools in his former post as assistant superintendent there, Churchill said.
And Isabelina Rodriguez is very strong in special education and bilingual education and has been successful in forming partnerships with area institutions of higher education, he said.
"Northampton is really working well with Smith College and they also have a really well developed volunteers-in-the-schools program. We were excited about her potential to really make better connections with all the resources we have," Churchill said.
Rodriguez began her work in Northampton as director of pupil services in 1994 and worked in the Springfield public schools before that as a bilingual education teacher.
If chosen, she would follow Department of Public Works Director Guilford Mooring and Assistant Town Manager and Finance Director John Musante in leaving posts in Northampton for Amherst.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The information about public forums for the 3 finalist candidates has been posted on the ARPS website. Biographical information on each candidate has also been posted. Please make plans to attend. Also, please remember that although we will be evaluating these candidates, they will in turn be evaluating us. We need to convince them that they would like to come work here in our community!
Save these Dates!
The School Committee is anticipating that three finalists will be visiting the district over the next two weeks. Each will spend 2 days in the district and participate in public forums as follows:
Dr. Alberto Rodriguez - February 4 Dr. Isabelina Rodriguez - February 9 Dr. David Sklarz - February 11.
Each of the public forums will be held in the High School Library at 7 p.m. All members of the community are invited to meet the candidates, ask questions and offer written feedback to the School Committee about the candidates.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Amherst schools budget whittled
AMHERST - Regional school officials say they expect the fiscal 2010 budget they submit to spring Town Meeting this spring will be $1 million less than needed to maintain current services.
"In general we're trying to pare a little bit here and a program there, we're taking cuts from the central office. We're still working on it," Interim Co-superintendent Helen Vivian said Friday.
School officials were relieved, however, to learn that Gov. Deval Patrick has said in recent days that he is not planning to cut state education aid for the current year and plans to suggest that the state level-fund education aid next year.
Vivian declined to be more specific about the preliminary regional school budget but said school officials would announce likely specific cuts at the next Regional School Committee meeting on Feb. 3.
A week after that, the Amherst Elementary School Committee will revisit a controversial proposal to close Mark's Meadow Elementary School to save money in the similarly strained elementary school budget.
"We're not going to have the same school system when we have to take this amount of money out of it," Vivian said. "We're trying to examine ways we can cut and then prioritize what would cause the least damage."
A 7 percent increase in spending over this year's $28.1 million budget would be required to maintain the current level of services. But the Finance Committee has recommended that Amherst school officials submit budgets with a 2-percent maximum increase in tax-supported spending on elementary schools and no more than a 3.5 percent increase in spending on the regional schools.
John Musante, the town's finance director, explained in a memorandum this fall that elementary schools would need a 5.8 percent increase and regional schools an 11.7 percent increase to maintain existing services.
The news that further cuts in state education spending are not imminent was encouraging, Vivian said. "But cutting a million dollars from the regional schools is still a very significant cut. We have spent more time than I care to think about trying to find ways of cutting the budget while still protecting our core mission."
Friday, January 23, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
- School Directory for each student
- Free Yearbook
- Staff Appreciation Luncheon
- Parent Council activities
- New Family Welcome, Staff Welcome Back Day
- Fall Festival, Multicultural Fair, Family Fair, Field Day
- Grade-wide events, 6th Grade Graduation
- School Picture Day, Fort River T-shirts Sale, Book Fair
- Appreciation Lunch/Breakfast for Teachers, and Van/Bus Drivers
Friday, January 16, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
AMHERST - The Amherst School Committee will take up possible elementary school reorganization scenarios tonight, but Interim Co-superintendent Helen Vivian said she no longer favors reconfiguring schools this year.
She had suggested earlier that pairing Mark's Meadow with Wildwood and Crocker Farm with Fort River elementary schools seemed like the best of several options developed by a committee charged last year with studying elementary school reconfiguration models.
The younger grades would go to one pair of schools and the older grades go to the other, in the option Vivian favored. As it could save an estimated $400,000, she had suggested that the change be made in time for the next school year.
Now that there is talk of creating a kindergarten- through 12th-grade regional school system, a different reconfiguration scenario could emerge as the most educationally and financially sound model than one she had previously supported, Vivian said Friday.
There seems to be a fair amount of agreement that the time has come to readjust the elementary school districts anyway, Amherst School Committee Chairman Andrew Churchill said.
"The way the schools are districted now has gotten a little out of whack over the years, because we have variation of class size, numbers of low-income kids and we have pockets of kids from one section of town ending up at a school that is farther away than the school closest to them."
A new group has begun examining reconfiguration options, but it isn't clear yet how long it would take to redraw the district lines effectively and whether it could be done in time to affect the coming year's budget, Churchill said. Vivian has estimated the schools may have to spend up to $1.2 million less than what is considered necessary to maintain services at their current level.
School Committee member Catherine Sanderson has advocated closing Mark's Meadow Elementary School to save money. "I don't see keeping the current four K- to six schools and making massive cuts (not just this year, but next year, etc.) as a viable option," she said last week.
"Parents and kids would lose so much because the schools wouldn't have the same characteristics that they have now. It seems to me that closing Mark's Meadow is the only option that accomplishes my primary goal ... preserving what we love about the Amherst schools - neighborhood schools that are K to six, with small classes and a rich instrumental music program."
Mary Carey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .