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.
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.”