Late arrival vote: Auburn robo call did not indicate a 'done deal'

AUBURN — After one parent accused the Auburn School Department on Wednesday night of sending “robo calls” that indicated the controversial late arrival was a “done deal” before the vote, Superintendent Katy Grondin released the script of that message Thursday, as requested by the Sun Journal.

Call Transcript

Script of robo call that went out to parents of Auburn grade 7-12 students, released to the Sun Journal on Thursday. The robo call went out July 11, according to Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin:

"The Auburn School Department is committed to raising student achievement by increasing teacher effectiveness in order for all students to be career and college ready when they graduate from Edward Little High School. To meet this goal, all staff at Auburn Middle School and Edward Little High School need additional professional development time to implement the classroom changes required for 21st century learning.

In order for staff to have this quality and consistent professional development, we are proposing that all students in grades 7-12 arrive at school at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays, when we have a full week of school. We will be sending a survey through School Messenger on Monday, July 16, at 7 p.m. asking parents for information that we will bring to the next School Committee meeting.

The next School Committee meeting will be held on July 18 at 7 p.m. in City Chambers. At the July 18 School Committee meeting, the School Committee will vote on late arrival for 7-12 students. We welcome your comments and encourage you to attend next Wednesday's meeting.

Here is a preview to the survey.

We will be asking you to complete the following statement through selecting one of five options:

On late arrival Wednesdays, my 7-12 child or children will

1. Ride the bus to school

2. Be dropped off at school

3. Drive themselves to school

5. Walk to school

4. Not sure, still working on a plan

Thank you for your feedback!"

The message does not indicate late arrival for grades 7-12 was a done deal. In fact it said the opposite.

“The next School Committee will be held on July 18 at 7 p.m. in City Chambers,” the message said. “At the July 18 School Committee meeting, the School Committee will vote on late arrival for 7-12 students. We welcome your comments and encourage you to attend next Wednesday's meeting.”

The robo call was sent July 11 to parents of grade 7-12 students in Auburn, Grondin said.

On Wednesday night, the Auburn School Committee voted to table late arrival for grades 7-12 after getting strong opposition from parents. Parents were unhappy about the proposal that the middle school and high school would begin school two hours late, 9:30 a.m., instead of 7:30 a.m., on Wednesdays.

Several also said they disliked Auburn's practice of half-day Wednesday, where grades K-6 students are released at lunch to give teachers time for professional development.

Committee members responded Wednesday night by backing off the proposal, indicating that late arrival or early dismissal for grades 7-12 should happen once a month, not once a week.

“It's back to the drawing board,” Grondin said Thursday. She and her staff will look at when and how to carve out more professional development for teachers to implement “mass customized learning,” or individualized learning for each student, to improve education.

Grondin doesn't know when it will reappear on the School Committee agenda, she said Thursday.

At Wednesday's meeting, Grondin was charged with politicizing the issue with what was said in robo calls. Parent David Burke said the automatic calls should be reserved for things like school being called off due to storms.

“I'm having a hard time seeing this as political. I was informing the public on a big decision, telling them why we're doing it,” she said. “I saw it as being helpful.”

Citizens frequently ask the school department for more information and to be kept informed. She was responding to that request, Grondin said.

Robo calls are also sent out to parents about important budget votes, Grondin said. “This was a big enough issue that people needed to be aware when the vote was.”

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Comments

David Pinkham's picture

Keep digging

Isn't this the same group that thinks Homework is critically important to success in school? Such that teachers of each subject should assign at least a half hour's homework per night? Ten hours a week after school work. Sports participants are putting in hours outside of schooltime, as are the coaches. High schoolers often hold down part time jobs nights and weekends, in order to acquire practical employment skills and budget management experience. Students work nights and weekends, how about getting the academic teachers in on Saturday for a workshop? Twice a month? Brainstorm!

DAVID BURKE's picture

To clarify - 2 calls made.

To clarify - 2 calls made. The first, with a bunch of information. The second, just the question "On late arrival Wednesdays, my 7-12 child or children ****will****...."
1. Ride the bus to school
2. Be dropped off at school
3. Drive themselves to school
4. Walk to school
5. Not sure, still working on a plan.

This isn't being misleading? Please. It doesn't pass the straight face test.

DAVID BURKE's picture

spin spin spin

First of all, I thought a news article should present 2 sides of the story. The paragraph "The message does not indicate late arrival for grades 7-12 was a done deal. In fact it said the opposite." makes this story something that should be in the editorial pages, not news. Furthermore, I was never contacted.

There were 2 calls made. The first used the entire language in the stories transcript, then the second one with only the 'survey'. Both use the same verbage regarding the surevey: "We will be asking you to complete the following statement through selecting one of five options:

On late arrival Wednesdays, my 7-12 child or children ****will****

1. Ride the bus to school
2. Be dropped off at school
3. Drive themselves to school
4. Walk to school
5. Not sure, still working on a plan.

The key word being "WILL". If Mr. Grondin doesn't think that is misleading, I don't know what to say. What kind of survey was this to provide information for a decision at the meeting. In fact, Ms. Grondin never even provided the survey results as far as I could tell.

Perhaps a better survey question would of been - "Do you agree with late-state Wednesdays?" or

"What would be the best time to provide professional development time to teachers?"
a) late start Wednesdays
b) after school
c) before school
d)Summer
e) Vacation weeks

In the future, leave the robo-calls to storm cancellations and emergency events. Otherwise, any should be approved by the school committee prior to being sent.

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