SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 17, 2013

Saltonstall change could sway votes in election

(Continued)

“Their working conditions, their compensation — that all has to be bargained,” she said.

With the 10 extra days and the 11-month schedule gone for next school year, Saltonstall Principal Julie Carter said they are already adjusting the school calendar. The K-8 school, which normally runs through July, is now looking at ending school before the July 4 holiday.

Carter attended Monday night’s meeting at Salem High but chose not to speak. She said it was difficult to sit and listen to what she considered negative comments by some school board members, who were critical of her school’s performance on MCAS tests, the attendance of some students and staff during the summer schedule, and other issues. The comments, she felt, were divisive and unfair.

“The vote aside, people felt like this is not the way to go about building a strong school community,” she said. “The criticism and scrutiny of a school that is actually performing well is not encouraging to anybody. In that way, the (School Committee’s) performance is demoralizing. ... Their willingness to just malign their own school — it just doesn’t make any sense. ...

“My personal feeling is that for this School Committee to make this decision in the middle of a turnaround, where (the school system) is already under scrutiny ... This invites more scrutiny. Why would you take away a resource, no matter who benefits, in a district already identified as Level 4?”

Carter also referred to a letter circulated last week and signed by more than 250 people, including a number of past and present community leaders, calling on the school board to postpone any action on Saltonstall while it focuses on the three-year turnaround effort for this Level 4, under-performing district. Ignoring that broad-based appeal, Carter said, was an “affront to the community.”

Despite the vote, Carter said she was upbeat about Saltonstall’s future. In fact, she said they were holding a school council meeting yesterday at which they would “start to re-energize.”

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