Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions of your own you'd like answered or that you'd like to see on this list, please let us know.
What's all this about some Waylanders being anti-school, anti-town, anti-progress, etc.?
Like a bad penny, this is a preposterous claim that won't go away. It is made by some (see "What is SOS" below) for the purpose of getting people to vote a certain way. Think about it. Do you really think that ANYone in Wayland is anti-school? It's an absurd premise, but it has worked for them before, where the fear and intimidation has been sufficient to get concerned parents to worry that lurking around the corner is some dastardly plan to compeletely decimate the schools in order to save a buck. Time has shown us that the candidates over the last few years that we were told would slash the budget and dismantle the schools did no such thing. On the contrary, they began to examine the budget to make sure that we are spending our money to the beneftit of our students. In fact, the school budget has continued to rise, not fall, under these allegedly "anti-school" candidates. The biggest irony is that one of the largest promoters of this "anti-everything" fear-mongering was the head of SOS, which actually encouraged the SC to close Loker School in 2008. You can't get more anti-school than that!
Why do you only post bad news?
This seems like an odd question, but we do get it from time to time. Because of the focus of the site, everything here should have something to do with transparency or the lack of it, in Wayland's government. Wayland is an incredible town which we strive to make better. Rather than glossing over our shortcomings, we see the benefit of examining them in order to fix them. While we're just as happy as anyone that a high schooler got a scholarhip or a goal in a soccer game, or someone's kitty has been safely retrieved from a tree, there are plenty of other places to go to read about that. By its very nature, the issues with transparency in Wayland are not exactly positive. However, we try to lighten it up a bit with humor where appropriate, and photos, mostly from around Wayland.
What is "transparency"?
This is not your grandfather's transparency - a piece of acetate for the overhead projector. Transparency in government means open government. It means that the people for whom government exists - "the people" - get to see and understand how decisions are made, how budgets are put together, etc. It is a means of holding public officials accountable. According to Wikipedia, "When government meetings are open to the press and the public, when budgets and financial statements may be reviewed by anyone, when laws, rules and decisions are open to discussion, they are seen as transparent and there is less opportunity for the authorities to abuse the system in their own interest."
Who creates the budget for the schools?
The school budget is drawn up by the administration and passed on to the School Committee for their approval. Once the SC approves it, it is then submitted to FinCom for their blessing, and ultimately to the voters at Annual Town Meeting, as part of the town's budget, where the voters get to decide whether to accept it as it is, or vote to amend it in one way or another or reject it.
What is the Open Meeting Law (OML) and why is it important?
According to the state website, "The Open Meeting Law supports the principle that the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action. The Open Meeting Law requires that most meetings of governmental bodies to be held in public. There are some exceptions, which are designed to ensure that, public officials are not "unduly hampered" by having every discussion among public officials open to the public. As a result, the Open Meeting Law provides for particular circumstances under which a meeting may be held in executive, or closed, session. You may also contact the Division of Open Government, within the Office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, at (617) 963-2540 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
What's the difference between the School Committee and the Administration?
• The School Committee (SC) is an elected board of 5 volunteer members who hire, fire and oversee the Superintendent, set policy and recommend a budget.
• The Administration includes the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Business Administrator, as well as a few others, i.e., Director of Student Services, Technology Director, etc. The term "administration" can be confusing, as it is sometimes meant to include school principals and their assistants, while other times it means only the Superintendent or the Central Office.
What was SOS and why were they so controversial?
According to their now defunct website, "Save Our Services (SOS) is a grass roots coalition that works to preserve Wayland's services and quality of life in a fiscally responsible manner." While the website is now gone and they claim to be inactive, there is clear evidence that a handful of them are still attempting to pull strings when and where they can, albeit, much more quietly than before.
In their heyday, they had very strong connections to the boards in town. There is at least one private meeting that they were able to arrange with the Chairs of several boards that was held at founder Lisa Valone's private residence. It was a closed meeting and the public was not invited as indicated in this short video. The legality of this meeting was never challenged, but many were outraged by the impropriety of one group of citizens privately exerting their influence on town board members.
They were known as being strong proponents of overrides in Wayland and worked very hard to ensure their passage. The controversy was in two forms:
First, there have been individuals and groups in town who have opposed overrides for years who did not support the SOS message.
In 2008, however there were several hundred families who were disenfranchised over the school reocnfiguration of that year, and SOS, in spite of its reputation for supporting the schools, supported the School Committee instead, in its decision to close Loker School. In addition to the original Loker families who were disrupted at the time, there were later many Claypit Hill and Happy Hollow familes that came to realize how the reconfiguration affected them, as the two remaining elementary schools became significantly more crowded, frequently at or in excess of the SC class size guidelines. Some have sarcastically referred to SOS as Save Our Secretaries, as the organization has continued to support the often controversial positions of the school administration, i.e. when the FY11 budget cut 7 teachers, but left the administration nearly intact, including 3 secretaries for the Superintendent.
More recently, as information has come to light about the poorly managed school budget, illegal accounts and little or no controls in place, the claims that SOS made in its day that "there's not and ounce of fat in this budget" have served as the final nail in the coffin in the credibilty of this once powerful and influential group.
Many of the contributors to this site are former S0S supporters whose experience with that group grew sour, due to the misleading and false information, the manipulation, the hidden agenda and the extremely poor choices the group came to exhibit.