My Turn: Mohawk’s broken education model


Saturday, December 02, 2017


It’s time for serious introspection at the Mohawk Trail Regional High School. The chronic crisis of management at Mohawk needs to be addressed. The school committee needs to refocus its role as directors, not collaborators.

A business analogy to apply here is management, a board of directors and the shareholders. In this analogy, the tax payers are the “share holders.” The school committee is the “board of directors.” Management is responsible for quality performance. The “shareholders” are not happy.

Student enrollment declines as costs escalate. Year after year, the quality of education is in question. Refer to the front page article in the Recorder of July 14. There was a near parental mutiny. All they got was an apology. The Recorder reported that a parent is sending his children to Four Rivers because, in part, “there is no accountability for what happened last year, but something has to give.”

The closure of Heath Elementary was done at a much higher cost-per-pupil than that of school choice. Mohawk sold the proposition by claiming it will save one million dollars. At Town Meeting, I asked the superintendent and the chair of the School Committee if there was an accounting forthcoming. The answer was a flat “no.”

The superintendent holds another job as a colonel in the Air Force reserves. I’m just guessing that this requires more time than a weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. It occurs to me that this other job may be a significant time distraction. I’ve asked School Committee members if anyone keeps time accountability. The reply has also been “no.”

Besides his other job, the superintendent is also involved running a rural schools coalition. Now, he wants to go to Boston (at our expense) to advocate against the charter school as a perceived threat.

A further distraction is that numerous times the superintendent has been a candidate for superintendent for other schools.

Mohawk, and those who pay for it, may be better served if management was singly dedicated to the betterment of the school, rather than attending to all the other distractions.

If the management of a school district is so untenable, it’s either time for new management or consider that because of a lack of critical mass that the regional school model is a failed proposition. It may be a higher value for the students and tax payers to revert back to the school systems prior to Mohawk.

Leo Ojala is chairman of the Shelburne Finance Committee.