TOM WARD - Tough to explain

TOM WARD - Tough to explain

In last week’s Breeze, Managing Editor Ethan Shorey reported that former Cumberland High School Principal Donna Charlton, who left the school around Christmas, was paid $121,234 in total to fulfill her one-year contract that began last July 1.

She was paid $52,615 in severance money, $61,384 in principal wages, and another $7,234 for 16.5 vacation days. You read that right: 16.5 unused vacation days between July 1 and Christmas necessitating a $7,234 payout. Nice work if you can get it.

Charlton’s early departure and her payout now becomes a public relations problem for the School Committee and its allies on the Town Council, who will soon be pressing hard for millions more town – not state – dollars in school department spending.

Mayor Bill Murray notes that town taxpayers have added $4.4 million in local dollars during his three-year term, with $2.3 million of it coming last year as school parents pressed their case on social media and in person. Will they be back for millions more this year? Yes, they will. But others will point to the Charlton payout and make the same point made by one of the online commenters on last week’s story, a point with which I agree. Wrote marcelbo89, “Please don’t come back in a few months and ask for more money for the school department when this shows that you are not good stewards of what we give you now.”

In case you are wondering, since 2012, town dollars spent have increased by $7.76 million, or 21.4 percent. The total local school tab today is almost $44 million.

There are now two committees meeting in town in an attempt to find common ground for school spending as the budget season approaches. The first was formed by Murray; the second by the Town Council last fall. Included are representatives of the Blackstone Valley Prep mayoral academies, the high-performing charters which, according the Cumberland school backers, are draining the school department dry. It is quite true that the “money follows the child” formula has been problematic for Cumberland, and a middle ground is needed.

Still, the Charlton episode is exactly the type of event that builds simmering resentment in taxpayers who labor in the private sector and live in a very different world. It will be more challenging for School Committee members, who approved the Charlton hiring, to explain to the community this spring why schools need millions more local dollars. After all, none of this wasted $60,000 was “for the children.”

Fly, Malcolm, Fly!

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick doesn’t owe me or Patriots Nation an explanation as to why he benched one of his best defenders on Super Bowl Sunday. But he owes one to Tom Brady, who passed for a record 505 yards and got nothing for it. We’ll never know if Malcolm Butler’s inclusion in the game might have saved them from looking like a bunch of Keystone Kops defenders on every possible third down play for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Worse to me is that poor defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, husband to Cumberland’s own Raina Grigelvick (CHS Class of 1996), was pushed out the door to explain the madness to waiting reporters. One video clip, shot from the side, had one reporter, eyes wide open, in stunned disbelief at Patricia’s mumbo-jumbo.

Nobody, but nobody, is buying any of it.

Belichick is a great coach, but he should look at his ring collection. Doesn’t he see #4? He and Brady were just along for the ride. That’s the Malcolm Butler ring, earned on one of the most magical interceptions in Super Bowl history. And the ring not on his sixth finger? That might be Butler’s, too. And the end of the Brady-Belichick era may now be whispering in our ears....

Matt Patricia is gone, to the Detroit Lions as head coach. I wish him, his Cumberland bride, and his three children well (unless they play us).

Free-agent Butler will be gone soon, too. Nobody will blame him. Whatever angered Belichick will fade into history, but Butler’s goal-line interception against Seattle will live as legend forever.

Thanks, Malcolm. It was nice knowing you.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze


It doesn't help that we can't pay compensation that the market will bear, but instead pay what the unions demand.