School district working groups: Seeking volunteers to advise on Transportation and study K-12 Music; update on Start Times

Last night, parents in the Northborough-Southborough School district received a September newsletter from the Superintendent. The message included news on working groups to study/advise on important issues. 

The district is recruiting members for two new groups: Transportation Advisory Working Group and PreK-12 Music Study Group. The email also included an update on work being done by the School Start Time Task Force.

Each topic is one that district parents have publicly advocated for or complained about. This fall, Southborough families were again frustrated by issues with school bus routes.* A new group will focus on improving transportation services. Given past discussions about another working group, it will presumably impact the school’s work on School Start Times.

For years, Algonquin parents have asked the school to find a way to Start School Later for sleep-deprived teens. Last fall, a Task Force was formed to study the issues.

This summer, parents in Northborough petitioned the administration over changes to the middle school’s plans for band instructors this year. The concern was a perception that the program was being weakened. A new study group will cover well beyond that, studying the music program across both towns, from the youngest students up.

Here are the excerpts on those groups from Superintendent Greg Martineau’s email: 

School Start Time Task Force Update
In the spring of 2019, a School Start Time Task Force convened to assess the feasibility of a later start to the school day at the middle and high school level. The Task Force met several times to organize and establish its purpose and goals. As a result, four subgroups were created: Community Outreach; Scenario and Options; Logistics; and Research and Data. The subgroups met and they continued their work over the summer months. This fall and winter the Task Force will continue its work by:

  • Providing communities with information and educational opportunities to learn about the role sleep plays in the adolescent brain;
  • Reviewing scenarios and options;
  • Identifying options that align with research;
  • Identifying the potential impacts of the later start time (E.g. financial, family, before and after school care and athletics);
  • Providing opportunities for the communities to give feedback on the scenarios and options; and,
  • Presenting to the School Committee with a recommended proposal(s).

It’s essential to note that if the outcome of this work results in a change to the schools’ start times, the changes would not be implemented until the 2021-2022 school year.

PreK-12 Music Study Group

The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough are establishing a PreK-12 Music Study Group to evaluate and celebrate our PreK-12 music program, highlight strengths, identify opportunities for growth, and make recommendations for the next 3-5 years, including budgetary implications. The PreK-12 Music Study Group will be responsible for:

  • Researching the benefits of music;
  • Highlighting strengths and identifying opportunities for growth; and,
  • Gathering recommendations for the next 3-5 years.

Time Commitment:
Dates: October 8, November 7, January 9, February 13, and March 5
Time: 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Location: Algonquin Regional High School Library

We are seeking the following members who are interested in serving on the PreK-12 Music Study Group:

  • Northboro-Southboro Music Association (NSMA) (2)
  • Music Educators (8)
  • Parents (3)
  • School Committee (3)
  • Administrators (3)

If you are interested in serving on the PreK-12 Music Study Group, please complete the following form:
PreK-12 Music Study Group Form

Transportation Advisory Working Group – Seeking Members

The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough is creating a Transportation Advisory Working Group and is seeking three representatives from each of our three districts to serve. The purpose of the Advisory Working Group is to provide the District with input and feedback on how transportation services can be improved across our ten schools. The Advisory Working Group will meet three times during the 2019-2020 school year. Dates will be communicated once membership is established. If you are interested in serving on the Advisory Working Group, please complete the following form: Transportation Advisory Working Group Form

*An update on the latest bus route revisions: Unlike the first week of school, I didn’t find parent complaints online over last week’s revised routes. And yet, I know from personal experience that at least one bus had major issues the first morning they were implemented (Tuesday, September 17th). Fortunately, the route was successfully adjusted before the afternoon dropoff (with some kids moved to another bus again). Hopefully, all of the routes are now running the way they should.

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4 years ago

Don’t be fooled by either Mr. Martineau and his crew or the do-nothing, see-nothing, hear-nothing school committee. They don’t want your opinions. Mr. Martineau is no better, maybe even worse than Christine Johnson and he is a liar. He doesn’t care what you or I want, he will do whatever it is that pleases him. He has cleaned house in the administrative offices and given big raises to a few while taking jobs from others. That Transporation Coordinator the district had was let go when she returned from medical leave. He is ruthless and uncaring. He cares only about himself and what he perceives looks good for him. The school committee has turned a blind eye and lets him (and Johnson for that matter) run wild doing whatever he thinks is best. Funny, he doesn’t know what is best because he is new. No school committee member wants to hear that things are not going so well with the staff in the administrative offices. They just walk away saying they don’t know anything. YOU SHOULD! That is what you signed up for. All the money that is being spent under the guise of something else is shameful. Who is watching that spending – nobody. Who signs off on the bills? The school committee. Is any of them even looking at what is being spent for consultants? To consult on what? Nope, nobody is minding the store and soon the store will be bankrupt. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Johnson let half a million, yes half a million dollars walk out on her watch and had an employee high as a kite 90% of the time he was in the office, Martineau follows in her footsteps. When is enough, enough?

Jerry Capra
4 years ago

Beth….I find the comment written by “Resident” to be not only unhelpful…but also offensive. This, from my perspective, is a slanderous comment made against a hard working public servant by an anonymous person who is using the power he derives from your blog to damage the reputation of a good person….for reasons only he knows…while hiding behind the electronic curtain of your blog.

This has been going on for years, and maybe now it’s time for the community to address it. We’re a small town….and these comments are directed against real people, from anonymous sources…lacking purpose or evidence. These comments can be very hurtful to people and impossible to respond to.

Have you ever noticed that a group of bloggers….you know who they are….they’ve been using this blog to slander people for a decade…never show up in town meeting…or in any public meeting for that matter. It’’s clear they never will… because that would take courage…and that isn’t their thing. Budgets and Visions can be challenged in a responsible way by showing up in public meetings and voicing your views. People can run for office, or vote people out. That’s how democracy should work.

I’m standing alone on this right now, but as editor, I believe you can respond back to these bloggers, ask them to write their complaint in a civil way, and use their real name. I understand that if you do this, you will never hear from them again…for they are just cowardly ghosts who will fade into the mist.

Kelly Roney
4 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Capra

Amen, Jerry.

Frank Crowell
4 years ago
Reply to  Jerry Capra

Mr Capra, 
First off, I do not agree with “Resident” post above but I completely understand his or her frustration, fairly understandable when one looks over the last decade or so.

About eight years ago a well known citizen in town asked during a school committee meeting why our per student costs were substantially higher than Shrewsbury. I don’t recall all the details but the school committee took offense and shut the question down. Eight years later, there has been no reply to that question (to my knowledge) and we are at least $2000 higher than Hopkinton today. Many candidates have run on “looking into or fixing” this issue – still waiting.

Another well known citizen in town has pointed out on this blog and I believe during town meetings that we have too many K-8 classrooms. With our school costs going through the roof, I would think that this fact would be taken seriously.

Add to this a large embezzlement where only the felon lost his job and the once a year school year start bus fiasco and you have the perfect storm of frustration.

Of course, as you point out, none of this gets fixed unless enough show up to town meeting and find a way to vote down the school budget. This is highly unlikely since no one wants to deprive the children (the usual narrative). So, sharp criticisms will persist on this blog……….and Southborough taxes will continue to go up.

4 years ago

well said, Jerry….

Julie Connelly
4 years ago

Bravo, Jerry. I’m often appalled at the crass, mean-spirited, and often incorrect statements made in the comments of this blog. This blog is an incredible resource for Southborough thanks to Beth, and there are many instances where productive, informed discourse has occurred, but that only happens when the person commenting uses her/his real name. I think getting rid of the anonymity option would be a marked improvement (although I understand why this may be more logistically difficult for Beth).

parent of past grads
4 years ago

Thanks for calling out Resident, Jerry. Sounds like there may be a hidden grudge there…….
I personally have never had a major problem with the schools and think at least part of my property value is due to the quality of our schools.
As for comparisons with other towns, I’ve always heard that comparing Regional systems to individual town system isn’t a valid comparison. One memorable item I recall is that the High School must pay for the plowing of its parking lot while town schools get handled by their own DPW teams. I suspect there are other differences too.

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