By Patrick Cronin
Portsmouth Herald, Friday, May 15, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online.]
[John Carden photo]
HAMPTON -- The School Board once again came under fire Tuesday night by parents and teachers concerned about changes and cutbacks at Marston School and Hampton Academy.
"I have no confidence that this board will act in an open and honest manner and I would ask that you all resign, effective immediately," parent Robin Day said.
While the board reversed its decision on April 23 to reduce the hours of three teachers and to cut five other positions as part of a plan to restructure Hampton Academy, parents who came out Tuesday said they still have major concerns about other changes and cutbacks that were made in nonpublic session that have yet to be addressed.
However, the School Board discussed only one of those concerns, which was its decision to rotate the three school nurses every three years at Centre and Marston schools and Hampton Academy.
The goal of the move, officials said, was to have the nurse "follow the child."
Parents decried the decision, stating the nurses were not asked for their opinion.
"Who on this board holds a nursing license?" asked Kim Barrone. "Before you make a decision, you need to ask the people who do the job. That's the problem; you don't care about anyone's opinion."
The teachers union also spoke out against the move, and in the end the board voted to table the nurse decision for one year.
Other concerns brought up that were not addressed by the board was the decision not to fill a vacant math and science teacher positions at the academy, to eliminate two Target Assist teacher jobs at Marston and to make the vice principal at Marston School a half-time position.
Parents said they wanted to see detailed information, data and research that was used to make these decisions. The board did not explain the reasoning for those choices because those items were not on the agenda.
"We brought up many concerns on April 23 and none of those were put on the agenda," said parent Debbie Pierson. "This was a complete waste of time."
"This community has asked a lot of questions and we are receiving no concrete answers," Barrone said."
This is such a mess and I'm more confused today than I was a month ago," said Parent Kelly Britton. "How can I as a parent alleviate my daughter's fears whose going into 7th grade when you as a school board can't explain it to me."
Prior to the meeting, roughly 30 parents and teachers rallied outside the town hall holding up signs like —We are Watching You."
As board members arrived they shouted "do what's best for kids" and make "decisions based on best practices."
[John Carden photo]