However unpleasant, I feel it is absolutely necessary to address the recent letter to the editor titled, “Can Trust Be Restored?” This letter was submitted on behalf of the members of the Bourne teachers union by Laurianne Gilbert, president, Bourne Educators Association
As a school committee member and a parent of this community, I am asking myself the very same question.
To be clear; I hold dear the trust we place in the professionalism demonstrated each day in the classrooms of this district. We have forged strong bonds with many of the teachers in the district and continue to be inspired by the depth of their talents, ideas and dedication. I actually became a school board member at the urging of a Bourne teacher who was and is the very definition of inspiration. It is because I deeply appreciate these quality teachers that I volunteer my time to support their efforts, which in turn benefit the children of our town.
OK...now here’s the truth…the contract with FMS management expired on May 1, 2014. A contract with a fee of $16,000.
The hired consultant worked closely with the high school staff and received input from many folks within our district. As a group, the Bourne High School staff then worked together to develop a list of professional norms.
This was a wonderful collaborative effort, and, as a result, the norms were unanimously adopted. I am pleased to say that we have received positive feedback from this endeavor. The norms have been published for the staff, administration and school committee, and have already begun to be the baseline as the high school staff continues to work together as a team.
With that said, some members may have sought and expected another contract (with the consultant) but none was ever promised. Any suggestion that the consultant was abruptly terminated is NOT factual.
“Professional norms” are guidelines of professional behaviors; behaviors we expect from professionals we hire. I trust that the professionals we hire are capable of behaving in a professional manner.
Although my message is lengthy, I feel it is important to give folks an understanding of the process.
We pledge to maintain the interests of our students and school community above that of any individual. This pledge will increase our capacity to meet the enormous challenges of change in the 21st century. Regardless of position or role, every member of our BHS community is committed to promoting these professional norms.
The professional norms are as follows:
1. School Pride and Community
Take initiative, responsibility and ownership by promoting a strong sense of pride and belonging of the entire school community. Ensure that everyone is supported physically, emotionally and socially to provide a safe professional environment. Recognize and appreciate what others do, progress they make, and achievements they earn.
2. Respect and Modeling
Model the attitudes, values and performance expected of our student body by consistently contributing to a climate of mutual respect, fairness and professionalism.
Contribute to understanding, confidence and teamwork among administration, teachers, staff, students, parents and our larger community. Communication will be direct, honest, clear, timely, consistent and accurate.
Adhere to school policies, rules and procedures and apply them with consistency.
Hold ourselves and others accountable for professional roles and responsibilities.
6. Constructive Feedback
Accept and provide consistent, specific and constructive feedback with regard to professional performance and assume positive intent.
7. Positive Change
Recognize the need for continued professional growth and development to support and enhance best practices.
8. Decision Making
Respect legitimate authority while simultaneously embracing broad-based and transparent decision-making processes which include all stakeholders in problem solving for major change. Promote collegiality and collaboration by being open to differing opinions and respecting the right of others to be heard. When there is clear, strong consensus on a decision, everyone has a responsibility to support the decision.
I’m not anti-organized labor. I support and respect the negotiated teachers contract. I think there is more common ground between the teachers of Bourne, including the officers of the teachers union, the school committee and administrators than is currently being exploited.
I know I speak for all board members when I say that we plan to continue to partner with our dedicated professionals, not engage in negativity, and move the Bourne School District forward in a manner that promotes positive learning for our children.
Catherine D. Walton
School committee member
Bourne Public Schools