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DISCUSSION: Bigger Concern — Board of Selectmen or Sudbury Public Schools?

What do you think is the bigger issue facing Sudbury residents today?

Just when you thought things were settling down ...

Back in May the Town of Sudbury was rocked by two major stories:

  • Lavender ... and everything associated with that night

and

The dust began to settle toward the end of the summer for these two hot topics, but now it's starting to come back in a different forms.

For Lavender, it's transformed into the town's drive to increase the Board of Selectmen to five members ... something that was voted for at Special Town Meeting, and is currently going through state legislation.

For Janice Donahue, it's morphed into Peter Fardig, who was abruptly put on paid leave, faced a 51A report, and "resigned" almost as quickly as the story was first announced. Parents again are frustrated over a lack of information from both Superintendent Anne Wilson, who would only say in a letter to parents that the "allegations do not involve any threatened harm to students," and the rest of the school committee.

So, between these two new topics, which is of more concern for you?

Share your thoughts in our comments section.

Concerned Sudbury Parent October 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM
The BOS and SPSC/Administration are equally concerning. Both groups are willfully failing to address the legitimate concerns of Sudbury citizens. At least action is now being taken to correct the BOS. This will take some time, but it will ultimately result in responsible town leadership. Once that happens, look for changes in town management, planning, and legal counsel. I hope similar action will be taken to upgrade the SPSC. They are completely tone deaf to the obvious problems with the new superintendent. One can argue whether some or all of the actions taken by the superintendent' during her brief tenure are fair or justified, but no one can argue how much she is lacking respect and support by parents because of the extremely poor way she has conducted herself. I hope the SPSC will conclude that it is in the best interests of our students not to renew her contract.
Concerned Sudbury Parent October 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM
Finally, there has been much politicizing and name-calling in regard to both issues. I don't believe this has anything to do with politics as I am certain there are plenty of people on both sides of the political divide who are disturbed by the failure of town leadership and agree on the need for change. As for the name-calling - I am dismayed that the debate surrounding these issues has devolved into personal attacks and remarkably immature comments. These are serious issues that affect fiscal control, property values, and the quality of education in Sudbury. Let's join together to fix these problems in a deliberate and respectful manner.
Edward Stark October 24, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Great question Robert. I would say it all starts at the top. When two of our three selectman (governing body of the town's liquor licenses) and town manager are out at a bar drinking after posted hours, what sort of example does thats set for other committees in town? When a town employee is stopped for her 3rd OUI and nothing is done about it, whats sort of example does that set for other committees in town? When a board is tasked with setting tax policy yet the chairman of the organization evaded and did not file his federal income taxes for 5 years, what sort of example does that set for other committees in town? Let's also keep in mind that the BOS appoints and overlooks over 75 other committees in town. With an ineffective BOS as we have I would say they are a bigger concern than SPS.
GlitterPumpkin October 24, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I think the current bigger concern is SPS. First of all, when evaluating a town when looking to buy property, the strength of the school system is one of the first things reviewed. Second, I don't think BOS has any real jurisdiction over how SPS is managed. Otherwise, where have our 3 selectmen been during this all of the problems the past six months? Ultimately, I think both are equally important, but at least it seems that there are steps being taken by a wide group of people to improve the selectmen issues. However, only a comparitively small group of activitists are doing the heavy lifting about issues with SPS. Concerned Sudbury Parent's comment is spot on.
JJoseph October 24, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I believe the schools are a significant issue, but there is an overall problem in Sudbury. The Sudbury insiders (BOS and School Committees) truly believe they know what is best for the community and do not care for input from the people that voted for them. The school committees disparage any outsider that runs for BOS and the BOS does the same in return for the school committee. Meanwhile, we see Sudbury in a steep decline (Lavender, Missing person, DUI, 40B, Conflicts of interest, constant override requests, financial mismangement) and the insiders continue to say what a well run town we have. It is unfortunate we cannot get a diverse representation in Sudbury instead of the same old folks that seem to be driving Sudbury right into the ground. It is time to get some fresh ideas and new people to help put Sudbury back on the right track.
SkimThreePercent October 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Sudbury's problems are caused in large part by external forces which the two groups Patch asks readers to choose from have decided for whatever reason to ignore. The list includes but is not limited to The Town of Lincoln (for wasteful spending and underfunding their share at the regional high school), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (unfunded mandates and stupid policies), your Real-Estate Broker (for over-rating Sudbury and SPS's to get their sales commission), the League of Women Voters (for their bias) and various surrogates and shadow groups (for sending Moblack DrO'Brien down the path to $%&*#$. SPS hired Swifty Wilson because she was the only candidate for this looney K-8 system. No way she gets hired anywhere else in the state as a K-12 Administrator. The BOS has no goals. How under these circumstances can performance be measured? There were many opportunities to address this SPS problem for many years, but Collins and the Town of Lincoln said no way. The volley-ball Coaches at LS make more than the Principals at SPS. No way you get good people to stay at SPS under these conditions. But yes, there is hope.
Glinda October 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Having attended many SPSC mtgs- I was appauled by the attitude and lack of respect shown to the parents of Sudbury. It was obvious to many that they did not want to hear from parents about the serious issues at Peter Noyes. If they truly cared about the well being of our children they would have stepped up and taken some corrective action. Instead they were rolling their eyes, emailing , and shaking their heads. SPSC is now headed for another lawsuit- Swifty has now ruined yet another educators career and reputation. We can all expect a lawsuit filed by Mr Fardig. Where does all this money come from to pay the legal bills? The potential settlements? Does it come from the school budget? I would like an answer to that- when it was asked of the SPSC, we got "no comment". Its about time our selectmen and town manager step up and step in to help fix this mess-
Ralph Furley October 24, 2012 at 05:12 PM
There are a number of structural issues the feed into all the problems: 1) SPS is an overcrowded system. Show me another town in the state with 17,000 residents, FOUR full elementary schools and 3,000 students. 2) Having two schools systems (SPS and LS) just duplicates overhead and administrative costs. 3) The lack of a commercial tax base in the town and the reluctance of our town planner, planning board and ZBA to push forward to increase the commercial tax base. But I think the people who are constantly asking for overrides (or criticizing those who don't vote for them) need to take a hard look at our system. If our schools cannot maintain their current educational levels without overrides then we need to ask ourselves how good our schools really are.
Glinda October 24, 2012 at 06:39 PM
If Swifty Wilson is taking money from the school's budget to pay for legal expenses- you better believe they will need an override! Unless of course Swifty does sue Mrs Patterson for not giving adequate notice. Like she threatened to! Then maybe we can offset some of her spending
SueChap October 24, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Sudbury leadership invites dissenting opinions. The problem is they insist these be voiced out of the public eye, so they can decide whether or not to respond to it. This is the core of all problems in Sudbury. Transparency will help us move forward; then the name callers can be told to be quiet down as it is non productive to progress.

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