Is there another battle for political control of our schools at hand?
Many folks, especially the parental groups that pushed for the future of our schools with the new Dracut High School, thought things had changed and our schools would no longer be the playground for the politically connected.
But now comes the “Christmas rumor” offered up by Selectman John Zimini on the Friday before Christmas: According to his “reliable source,” the school budget could be out of whack by as much as $400,000.00 and folks will be/could be laid off.
Zimini himself calls his information “all speculation and rumor.”
Well, apparently the rumors and speculation were all unnecessary as the day before Zimini’s appearance on Lowell cable TV, the School Committee’s budget subcommittee was hard at work trying to solve the budget issue.
With that as a backdrop, don’t you wonder why all the theater?
The political history of our schools is well known and the McLaughlin/Zimini crowd has been in and out in terms of political influence over the years.
A few short years ago, a group led by Zimini pal D.J. Deeb showed then Superintendent Elaine Espindle the door and brought in their own guy to run the show.
The change didn’t last long and a subsequent School Committee had to bring back Espindle to right the ship before bringing in Dr. Stacy Scott, but not before some eyebrow-raising shenanigans.
So, when a sitting selectman takes to the airwaves in Lowell to make his announcement in the form of a rumor rather than bringing it up at a selectmen’s meeting as a matter of public information, people get concerned and wonder why.
Stacy Scott, welcome to Dracut politics, where the battle for political control of our schools has begun anew.
What the School Committee and the superintendent should learn from this is to stop having Thursday morning budget committee meetings and rather discuss these matters during regular School Committee meetings.
I’m sure the committee posts its meeting and that they are in compliance with Open Meeting laws, but if the board and staff control the information by releasing it during an open meeting in front of a camera, it is far less likely to get spun into a speculative rumor.
Happy New Year!
Warren Shaw is a former Dracut selectman who hosts a popular Saturday morning radio show on WCAP-AM from 6 to 10.