Nauset snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

What good superintendent would want to work for these people?

Did Nauset just snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Cape’s best school district ousts superintendent – now what?

By nearly every metric, the Nauset Region’s schools are far and away Cape Cod’s best school system. The Cape’s premier school choice destination, Nauset’s test scores again and again testify to the excellence of its educational programs, teachers and leadership.

And now they’ve gone and run their superintendent out of town. Yup, the school committee, a vengeful former selectman and some unhappy teachers have shown us all who runs the Nauset Region.

After May’s unbecoming spectacle over Dr. Richard Hoffmann’s evaluation – televised for the public’s viewing pleasure – we’re not surprised he is leaving Nauset sometime in 2015.

We hope this is not a case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Knowing when you have it good

We heard all the remarks about Dr. Hoffmann made by board members and teachers. You can watch the video yourself at http://brewster-ma.gov/government-channel-18 - look for Nauset Regional School Committee—May 22 joint meeting parts 1 and 2.

Any taxpayer or parent in the region should watch this video. If the Orleans Board of Health hadn’t melted down in the same month, we would say the Nauset session was the most unbecoming public meeting we’ve seen in years. The venom coming out of some of the speakers does great harm to the region’s reputation for stability and good governance.

Right now the Nauset Region enjoys stable employment, taxpayers that willingly pay for the most expensive elementary schools in the area, long-serving principals for the most part and an environment where staff don’t have to worry about massive layoffs from year to year.

Compare that to the uproar in a district like Dennis-Yarmouth where staff are released in the middle of the year or Bourne where the high school is bleeding out before their very eyes.

Nauset has a good in-flow of school choice students. It sees few losses to school choice or charter choice, especially relative to districts like Dennis-Yarmouth or Monomoy. Nauset is also a destination for tuition-paying foreign exchange students. Compare Nauset to any other school district in the county and there really isn’t much to kvetch about.

Transition Trauma

The last couple of superintendent “changeovers” on Cape Cod have up-ended their respective districts. At both Monomoy and Mashpee, most of the principals have been replaced by the new superintendent in a single year.

Indeed, at Monomoy the two long-serving middle school principals and the Harwich High School principal weren’t seriously considered for the job at the new, regionalized schools. The out-of-town superintendent hired off-Cape principals.

In Mashpee there was carnage among the principals but the locally-sourced superintendent kept his hiring on this side of the bridges.

Principals set the tone in a school. How many of Nauset’s principals will be lost during a 2015 transition to a new superintendent. What would this excellent school district look like with a complete leadership turnover?

Right now, due to the district’s excellent reputation, the principals in the Nauset region can write their own ticket to virtually any school district in New England. Hire the wrong superintendent and these principals will be gone in a flash.

Would you work for them?

Watch the video of the “Hoffmann evaluation” meeting, referenced above, and ask yourself – What superintendent worth his or her salt would want to work for these people?

Nauset’s most successful superintendent in recent memory is Michael Gradone, a man who spent his entire career in the Nauset Region, starting as a teacher and working his way up to the center chair over decades of service.

If Nauset’s combined school board has an ounce of intelligence, they’ll try to hire a superintendent from inside the district – someone who won’t up-end the apple cart.

Heading for the exits?

We have watched the turmoil in Monomoy and Dennis-Yarmouth literally eviscerate the enrollment of both school districts. Thus far, Nauset has remained immune from those kinds of losses.

However if Nauset becomes a different looking district how long will it be before parents and students start heading for the exits? Upheaval in the Nauset region might even give the doomed Monomoy region a brief stay of execution if Nauset students start choicing over to Monomoy.

In his farewell address 40 years ago, Richard Nixon remarked “…only if you’ve been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

Let’s hope that Nauset’s school boards and teachers don’t take the kids on a field trip to that deep valley.


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