Letter to Editor: Building a Stronger Public School System

Recently much has been said about the lack of stability and communication within the Waltham public school system.  As parents we are concerned with the amount of administrative turnover, and its affect on the quality of education provided in our schools.

Just like in team sports, an organization (school system) or team is most successful when everyone understands their role and performs that role well.

Within a successful school system, the school committee members (including the Chairperson) need to set school policy, vote on the budget and provide direction through leadership while letting the administrators (including the superintendent) manage the operation or schools.  Micro-managing by the school committee and its chairperson should be avoided at all costs.

Personnel issues should remain within school administration and politics left out.  In Waltham’s case, we cannot afford to drive out a third superintendent through political interference. A fifth   superintendent (including interim) in 10 years would be disastrous to our children’s education and success, and our school system as a whole.

To rectify Waltham’s current issues and effectively work together to create a stronger public school system, school committee members need to do a better job demonstrating that they are listening to parents’ concerns.  All seven Waltham school committee members should participate in the District Governance meetings and school committee executive sessions.  Increased communication between the superintendent and parents would better inform the community of actions that are being taken on behalf of our children.

Administrators must facilitate the involvement of talented and willing parents to foster input and cooperation at all levels.  Additionally, administrative salaries need to be appropriately updated, and exit interviews performed and documented.  The current external administrative mentoring program could be extended.  The school system would benefit from a greater effort to identify and prepare current personnel for administrative positions.  As you can see, there is much we can do to better ourselves.

Waltham has enormous talent and committed people ranging from school policy makers, our superintendent, principals, teachers and parents. If everyone plays their role on the team, there is no reason Waltham can’t be among the best.  We have the money and talent. Let’s make it happen!

Tom Stanley