Who Was Disingenuous?

September, 2006

At North Andover’s June 5th Annual Town meeting, the School Committee threatened to cut 23 classroom teachers if its budget was reduced from its original request to the “To Be Balanced” amount, despite an earlier presentation by members Ormsby, Kelly, and parent Diana Headrick showing that these cuts could be avoided by accepting painful but alternative non-teacher cuts.

 Sure enough, only days after Town Meeting these 23 cuts dwindled to a mere 1.5 classroom teachers lost.

 At the July 10th Special Town Meeting, four members of the North Andover School Committee held hands and threatened to now cut 28 classroom teachers if the trash tax wasn’t passed. This time, they said, they really meant it. When the voters said, “Hell No!” these same four members refused a request by Dr. Ormsby to reconvene and attempt to salvage as many classroom teaching positions as possible.

 Ormsby then urged angry parents to pressure the committee to meet. They responded and sent over 100 e-mails to committee members, forcing an August 10th meeting. For a committee that thought there was no reason to meet, it is odd that the meeting lasted five hours. By the end, 12 positions were restored … a significant improvement despite the refusal of the committee to consider additional options motioned by Dr. Ormsby that would have restored seven more teachers.

 Those who watched the meeting witnessed the retaliatory ambush on Ormsby staged by Perry and Whidden, [See Perry’s transcribed attack and Ormsby’s response on page 8] claiming that Ormsby had been disingenuous and provided false hopes and false information. Well, let’s see. Dr. Ormsby said there were alternative cuts that could substantially avoid the loss of the 51 threatened classroom-teaching positions [the 23 and 28 noted above]. Of the initial 23, only 1.5 were cut.

 After the Special Town Meeting, 12 positions were restored. Had these all been focused on classroom teaching positions, we would be down from 28 to 16. Subtract from this the seven teaching positions that the committee refused to make and you would be down to nine … amazingly, exactly the number of positions that would have been restored by Ormsby’s plan to transfer $380K of the deficit to the municipal side.

 So, who was closer to the mark? The voters weren’t fooled. They knew who was being disingenuous and who was sending false information.