North Andover School Committee Insists on Laying off Teachers

Perry and Company Engage in Personal Attacks, Makes Lawrence Look Like Geniuses
Paying Attention With Tom Duggan 

By Tom Duggan – August 9, 2006


 So you thought the Lawrence School Committee was a joke?

 Well, last night the North Andover School Committee made the Lawrence School Committee look like educational geniuses as their meeting degenerated into name calling in a circus like atmosphere. It was worse than any Lawrence School Committee meeting of recent history.

 For four hours residents of the town of North Andover waited for the School Committee to do something… anything to address the proposed teacher shortage and the intentionally out of balance school budget.

 Instead, the school committee, still sour after town voters rejected a trash tax, used the meeting as forum to complain about teacher layoffs, blaming Dr. Ormsby for the teacher shortage. All the while the committee refused to lift a finger to restore those teaching positions.

 Self proclaimed school advocates (who admittedly support teacher layoffs) sat in the audience deriding Ormsby for even suggesting that teachers could be saved.

 One parent who favors the teacher layoffs said that Ormsby should either resign from the committee or the North Andover Taxpayers Association because; on her planet it is a conflict of interest to advocate for lower taxes and education at the same time.

 Committee chairman Al Perry viscously attacked Dr. Ormsby calling him a liar charging that “when Tommy Duggan got up at Town meeting he asked if Dr. Ormsby’s budget proposal would prevent teacher layoffs… he (Ormsby) said yes.” Perry then went into a tirade against Ormsby, charging that a school committee members’ role is to advocate for the students and “Dr. Ormsby fails to do that.”

 Perry’s newest puppet on the committee, Barbara Whidden (who was supported by the teachers union in the last election and supported the trash tax) reiterated Perry’s myths accusing Ormsby of “lying” to the parents and citizens of North Andover” with his proposal to save all teachers because “many of his recommendations were not legal, including using grant money for other purposes.”

 Ormsby had previously admitted that the committee may not be able to use the grant money. But, Dr. Ormsby did make a motion to appropriate $500,000, instead of $192,000, to save more teachers, eliminating Assistant Superintendent Bergeron (who is actively sending out resumes to other communities), and one of the two assistant principals at the middle school.

 The committee, however, chose to side with the Harutunian hired administration and protect their jobs instead of teaching positions, in direct conflict with what they told the taxpayers at town meeting. Not surprisingly, Perry and the teacher layoff advocates refused to second Ormsby’s motion and it failed.

 Miraculously, at 9:30pm the interim superintendent informed the committee that there was an additional $336,282 available to appropriate in the ’07 budget. The administration had already restored a high school math teacher, a preschool nurse, and a Kindergarten teacher for $143,780 thus leaving $192,502 for the committee to decide what to do with.

 Despite the fact that Tim Pybus and Al Perry declared no teacher cuts could be avoided if the trash tax was defeated, Perry and company voted to save six more teachers (2 high school teachers. 2 Thomson teachers and 2 Sargaent teachers) slated for layoff with the additional $192,502, for a total of 9 saved positions.

 Let’s not forget that at Town Meeting, the school committee was obligated to make cuts totalling $1,283K vs the $1,412K that the Administrative cut list presented at the meeting, thus the school department already restored $128K in positions – Atkinson Grade 2, NAHS teacher, and two NAMS 6th Grade teachers — EVEN before there was the extra $336K.

 In total 13 positions have been restored.

 So, what’s going on here?

 How can the people who whined about losing teachers at town meeting now advocate saving Harutunian’s administrators instead of saving the very teachers they claimed to be fighting for?

 Al Perry and his puppets on the committee (Kelly, Pybus and Whidden) continue to advocate for teacher layoffs because every time they cry wolf in yet another scam to raise taxes, no teachers are ever laid off. Well aware that the taxpayers are no longer falling for the committees’ empty threats, Perry and company are now determined to pad the budget with unneeded administrators in order to lay off as many teachers as they can so that next year they can use the layoffs in their next tax raising scheme.

 As a side note: Today’s Eagle Tribune reported from the meeting that because of teacher cuts 250 students at the high school will not be receiving the 990 mandatory hours of instruction required by state statute.

 Had the Trib reporter bothered to stay until the end of the meeting, however, she would have learned that the school committee voted to reinstate two High School teachers, thereby insuring all high school students will receive the required 990 hours in compliance with state law.