Audit Shows North Andover School Committee Incompetence



By Tom Duggan, February, 2007

Maybe the North Andover School Committee really isn’t incompetent. Perhaps it is completely capable of running the schools efficiently and just refuses to do so.

Whatever the case, an education audit released last month on the condition of the North Andover school system showed that the schools were deficient in complying with No Child Left Behind standards. Auditors also outlined lack of leadership, lack of communication, lack of evaluations of teachers and administrators (all of whom got hefty raises), failure to comply with contracts and a failure to have district-wide (or school-based) education standards.

 The audit further showed that the hefty raises and bonuses the School Committee gave to Superintendent Harry Harutunian were given illegally because state law (and his contract) called for a public evaluation of the superintendent. Under the “leadership” of Al Perry and Dan Murphy, this never took place in the Kremlin-like secret environment of those Harry Harutunian days.

 Remember when Superintendent Harry Harutunian was getting his spending proposals rubber-stamped by Al Perry, Tim Pybus, Dan Murphy and the go-along-to-get-along crowd on the School Committee? It was Dr. Chuck Ormsby who was questioning the lack of standards and voting against those hefty raises.

And when Harutunian’s puppet School Committee went to the voters time and again to beg for more money to spend on fantasy budget figures, it was Dr. Ormsby who opposed his colleagues. He continually stressed that school dollars need to be spent more wisely, reforms need to be implemented and standards must be raised before the committee could possibly ask the taxpayers for one more dollar.

 Remember how Dr. Ormsby was personally attacked, had his integrity questioned and was ridiculed by fellow committee members who ganged up on him, opposing every reform or improvement he tried to put into place? It was Dr. Ormsby, back then, who tried to expose haphazard spending. He tried to work with a School Committee obsessed with throwing money at the problem, while doing very little about student achievement.

 What’s more, Dr. Chuck opposed extravagant union raises and contracts that did not contain benchmarks for achievement. He voted against budgets that were not balanced and fought for an increase in AP classes, all while Al Perry, Dan Murphy and the rest of the ostriches on the committee were hell-bent on defending Harutunian’s budgets and his never ending support for experimental programs (can you say Every Day Math?).

 It was the current School Committee members (add Dan Murphy) who failed the school children of North Andover. Not only did School Committee members refuse to question spending under Harutunian, they made it difficult if not impossible for Dr. Chuck or anyone else to criticize the way Harutunian was running the school system into the ground. Plain and simple, the North Andover School Committee didn’t do its job and made it nearly impossible for Dr. Ormsby to do his.

 Finally, after years of enduring a misinformation campaign against him, the independent education audit has vindicated Dr. Charles Ormsby. But you would never know it to hear the new spin coming from the very same School Committee members and “school advocates” who got us into this mess.

 To hear them tell the story, the reason this education audit showed so many problems in the schools is because of Dr. Ormsby and his questioning and opposition to excessive school funding. This, even though his minority points of view had little effect on changing committee votes and policy.

 Once again, the big spenders want to irresponsibly shift the blame and throw even MORE money at the problem, even though none of the standards or evaluations called for in the education audit have even begun. It seems this spend-all-you-can School Committee has learned nothing since their leader; Harry Harutunian, resigned in disgrace last year.

 In fact, some are even talking about using the findings of this audit to justify yet another Proposition 2 1/2 Override because, of course, in order to fix the problem they need you to give them more and more of your hard-earned tax dollars.

 Can you believe the gall?

 The same people who are responsible for getting the North Andover school system into this educational quagmire, the same people who rubber-stamped Harutunian’s bad education policies and fantasy budget figures, the very same people who viciously attacked Dr. Ormsby every time he questioned the status quo, are now blaming Dr. Ormsby instead of praising him for having it right all along.

 Some are even talking about organizing a recall petition to get rid of the one guy who stands (and votes) alone when it comes to spending your tax money responsibly. If anyone needs to be recalled from the School Committee, it is Al Perry and Tim Pybus for going along with Harutunian’s three-year charade on the taxpayers and not doing their jobs when his misdeeds were being questioned by Dr. Ormsby.