An article on Philipstown.info puts the focus on our current and past Board. "While current Beacon City Schools Superintendent Barbara Walkley is embroiled in controversy as many parents call for her dismissal, the school system’s issues date back much further than just her tenure" click here for full article
Following last night's Special BOE Meeting a letter was released and will be circulated to parents in the BCSD. This letter, written by current board President Melissa Thompson, seems to place the blame on a "handful of community members". However, the turnout of over 375 community members at the cancelled Jan. 11th BOE meeting tells us otherwise.
The Poughkeepsie Journal Reports: Another Beacon City School District superintendent has resigned and the next person to take over will be the ninth school chief switch the district has had in 10 years. Follow the link for the article and video:
The 1/11/16 Board Meeting was cancelled because a quorum was not present. According to the NY State School Board Association: “If a quorum is not present, no official business can be conducted until more members arrive. Informal discussion can, however, legally take place, or the meeting can be adjourned (less than a quorum may adjourn).” Our President, Melissa Thompson, chose to adjourn the meeting.
Over 350+ parents, teachers, students, and stakeholders remained in the auditorium. Board Members Anthony White and Bill Zopf remained in attendance along with Deputy Superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi.
We thank all of those that stayed and listened to the speakers.
The following is Meredith Heuer's comment:
My name is Meredith Heuer and I am the chair of the Beacon Arts & Education
Foundation. I began volunteering with this foundation in 2010. Since then, we have
sponsored over $80,000 worth of programming in the BCSD.
Six months ago, I approached this school board with the story of how our foundation
offered to fund an Arts in Education Coordinator position in the BCSD for the 2014-15
school year. The primary function of this position would be to maximize the use of the
New York State BOCES Co-Ser program which, every year, gives back around 50% of
money spent toward qualifying arts in education programing. Participation in the
BOCES Co-Ser plan makes programs like the CALICO BALL (a $16,000/year program)
possible. The offer of a donation was refused because, I was told by the superintendent,
she had found a way to pay a teacher to perform these duties through a grant. The
teacher’s title would be: Teacher of Special Assignment, or TOSA now known as and
Instructional Support Teacher, or IST. We were thrilled at this news, I passed on all the
information I and other members of the foundation had gathered over the years to the
new Coordinator, emails of acknowledgement were sent, and the year passed. After the
school year ended, in a meeting to review the Coordinator’s progress in this position, I
was told by the Superintendent that after her initial announcement to me about the IST
position she had found that the Coordinator’s responsibilities did not fit in with the rules
of the grant funding the position and so if this teacher did perform any of these duties, it
was purely volunteer. There were only 3 contracts put through the Co-Ser last year and
the IST was not responsible for any of them. This is in high contrast to what has
happened so far this year where there is a new coordinator and there has been a
tremendous amount of cooperation from teachers, administrators and parents. Nine
contracts have already been submitted this year.
After I made this statement, I was approached by many members of the community with
reactions ranging from disappointment to outrage about the lack of communication, the
possible misuse of funds and the absence of accountability. From members of the school
board, there was barely a ripple. And so I began contacting board members individually
to ask what they thought about the fact that, even after deciding that the IST position
could not take on the Coordinator responsibilities, the superintendent chose not to contact me to revisit the idea of the foundation funding the position and the lack of any real accountability for the IST position. One board member told me that the superintendent had refused our offer for fear that the foundation would not be able to fund it again next year. Remember, this foundation has raised over $80,000 for this district. What evidence is there that we are going to disappear? This board member also told me that the superintendent and the IST had had a really hard year. In a conversation with another board member, I mentioned that I had called the State Education Department to ask about an IST carrying out the duties of an Arts in Education Coordinator and they didn’t see any problem there. That school board member agreed that it was probably fine.
I wish this was an isolated event. Instead it seems to be a part of a larger problem of
systematically shutting down stakeholders who seek to improve the education of our
Almost a year ago, I was contacted by a middle school music teacher asking for a
donation to fund an electronic music program that would fulfill the general music
requirement. Her reasons for this being a great addition to the curriculum seemed really
sound to me: teaching the general music class was challenging because her students had such varying levels of music knowledge and she had found that, when she was able to
take them to the computer lab where they worked individually, they could each attain
success at their own level.
After offering to fund this program, I was met with silence. After several of my emails
went unanswered, I wrote the following to the superintendent: “Over the break I was
able to reach out to friends who have children in public schools around the country and I
am finding that my experience of having emails go unanswered (especially when they
contain an offer of a donation) is very unusual. When I joined BAEF, it was with the
understanding that our foundation is in partnership with the district. As you know, any
money that we raise is for the BCSD and so it is very confusing to make these offers, and
ask where we can help, and hear nothing back…. I really believe that any healthy school
district has an education foundation supporting it. Let's please schedule a meeting where
we can work out the details of this donation as well as how we can work more smoothly
together in the future.”
Finally, I was brought in to a meeting where I was told: 1) the program would be better
launched at the high school because there was already space for it to take place 2) we
would not need to donate towards it because the superintendent had received a grant to
fund the program. I asked if the program would be up and running for the fall and was
told, “yes.” Instead, we donated the money to the middle school for desperately needed
new musical instruments and waited for the program to be launched. It has not yet
Going back even further, in 2012, I began exploring the idea of launching a Youth in
Government program at the high school. I had heard about this program from many
adults who had participated in it when they were in high school and had found it life
changing. We, of course, would fundraise for it so that it would be no cost to the district.
After 3 years of emailing various administrators in the district I was able to make a
meeting with a YMCA representative and one of the high school guidance counselors.
The guidance counselor seemed genuinely moved by the possibilities that this program
would offer students and by other programming that the Y is willing to bring to us to fill
some of the gaps we have here. Students that were freshman when I started this quest are graduating this year. It is heartbreaking to me to think of how many students have missed this opportunity for no good reason.
Anyway, the last board member that I reached out to regarding the IST as arts in ed
coordinator question made a very strong statement of support for our current
superintendent but she did say “if you see something, say something” and so here I am to
say that I have seen something.
We have been told that the board of education ‘just’ makes policy but my recent research
tells me differently. In any case, there seem to be some unwritten policies in action here
that I feel are hindering the progress of our district: There seems to be a policy of ‘no’, of
‘we can’t’, of covering for a job not done well or a job not done at all. After my many
years of volunteering in this district, I am beginning to realize that things don’t have to be
this hard. We are told that this is what we get because we are a focus district, because we are title 1, we don’t deserve better. I don’t believe this to be true. I believe that if we can acknowledge this culture of ‘no’ and ‘we can’t’ that has poisoned our district and allowed for abuse of power, we can get back to the original goal here, to support our students and teachers and create an atmosphere where all can thrive. I have tried, since my children started school to help the district through the channels that the foundation offers but I have decided that it is time to move on. I would like to announce my candidacy for member of the board of education. It is said that trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets. Let’s start earning that trust back, drop by drop, today with more transparency, accountability and a renewed focus on the children of this district.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports on a petition filed calling for the Superintendent's resignation and the dismissal of the Board Attorney. Seeing no other recourse, one parent recently filed a petition with the New York State Department of Education, demanding an investigation, the removal of Dr. Walkley, and the replacement of the BCSD attorney. The petition cites "troubling, unethical, inappropriate and illegal behaviors” by BCSD
leadership, and includes several emails, obtained through a FOIL request, that reveal a culture of contempt and serious conflict of interest between the superintendent and the former BTA President.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports:
A parent in the Beacon City School District has filed a petition with the state Education Department, asking for the board to remove the superintendent from her spot. click here for full article
The following was taken from the 10/13/15 BOE Meeting at which time the President of the BTA read a letter to Dr. Walkley from the BTA
Good evening, my name is John Burns I’m the president of Beacon teachers Association. Much has been made about this topic, and the statement I’m about to read was unanimously approved by the BTA Representative Assembly at our October 6th meeting:
Dr. Walkley, the BTA is both disappointed and disheartened by the recent Spring 2015 transfers of numerous members of their unit. Your blatant disregard for process leaves us little choice but to make known to you both our displeasure for your decision and how we could possibly work more collaboratively in the future. While we recognize your ultimate authority to make these decisions we also recognize that decisions are usually arrived at through consultation and input from several different sources. The following aspects of your decision-making are extremely troublesome to the BTA:
1. Contractual Provisions
There was a total disregard for the contractual provisions of article 14 section B regarding the transfer process.
2. The Midnight Date of the Transfers
This leads us to believe that you intentionally wanted to subjugate the process so that teachers would have less time to appeal the decision.
3. A Lack of Administrative Input
and in several cases the transfers carried out in direct contrast to what was being recommended by the building principals. This shows a total lack of respect with the professionals that run these buildings on a daily basis
4. The Lack of Professional Notification
No one should ever find out through a mass email that they have been transferred. It shows a total lack of respect for individuals and their privacy. Individual meetings should always be held with face-to-face contact and with a reasonable explanation for why the person is being transferred. Not everyone can be wonderful and an asset to the building they are being transferred to.
5. The Number of Transfers
There were over 20 involuntary transfers in a district that has shown progress in the last five years. The upheaval caused by this mass movement is never a good administrative decision and is particularly difficult to understand at this juncture in time
The following suggestions would make for more professional transitions in the future if transfers are actually needed:
1. Address the issues regarding lack of performance with the individual professionals rather and simply transferring them to some other building
2. Treat the process with respect. Meet with individuals in private and explain the reasons for and the goals involved in making these transfers. As professionals we deserve the respect
3. Collaborate with rather than dictate to your building administrators. The building administrators have a great pulse on what is going on in their buildings. Utilize their expertise and involve coordinators in the process.
4. Have a plan in place before the absolute last minute for contractual adherence. Professionals should do not have to be sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see if the axe with fall of them.
The negative fallout from the decision about transfers this past spring will be felt for years to come. After only the first year as the Superintendent many staff members have come to not trust you as a result of this rash and authoritarian decision and your remarks over the past few Superintendent meetings you have continually emphasized a culture of care respect. You hold everyone to this standard but obviously believe that it does not apply to you. If anything, you have shown a total disregard for how professionals should be treated in the workplace. If your goal is to get us off of any list that we may presently be on you may find it more successful to treat us as partners rather than adversaries drawing on our sense of professionalism and our sense of vocation will make all of our jobs much easier and rewarding. Instead of building bridges we’ve chosen to build barriers. In these difficult educational times we teachers have more than enough challenges. Please do not add our relationship with the Superintendent to this list.
Beacon has had eight superintendents in eight years. The previous superintendent, Dr. Dorward, left was a $75,000 lump sum payment along with the vacation and sick leave due to him, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Shortly before that Dr Bandlow was given a lump sum payment of $100,000along with $8,000 for a tax-deferred annuity program. Just imagine if all of that money actually went to improve the district.
Nina Schutzman, Poughkeepsie Journal 5:25 a.m. EDT September 6, 2014
BEACON – The Beacon City School District is on its eighth superintendent switch in the past eight years and the heavy turnover hasn't been without a price. click here for full article
In the 2012-2013 school year a total of 3,305 teachers and principals in 15 local school districts and Dutchess County Board of Cooperative Educational Services were evaluated. A total of 1,782 were rated highly effective, 1,273 effective, 123 developing and 127 ineffective.
Of the 127 “ineffective” teachers in Dutchess County, 108 were from Beacon.
We know that our teachers are not ineffective. The other districts in Dutchess County managed to get their APPR right and Beacon got it wrong. When questioned, Dr.Walkley stated that the evaluation was “Not a fair assessment.” The former union president stated at a board meeting, “If people wonder if we had a bad plan, the answer was clearly no.”
The Poughkeepsie Journal Reports on the evaluation process known as the annual professional performance review or APPR. "In Beacon, Walkley said the evaluation process was complex and Beacon's ratings were the result of additional factors. She declined to offer specifics when asked about those factors"
John Barry and John Davis 9:44 p.m. EDT August 29, 2014
Over 92 percent of local public educators evaluated were rated highly effective or effective by the state Education Department in 2012-13. click here for full Poughkeepsie Journal Article.