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The end of a 'stigma?'

State visit could lift Southbridge's 'underperforming' label

January 12, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — After years of dreading visits from the state, the school district is practically salivating over one slated for the first week of February.

At that time, Southbridge has a good chance of finally shedding its "underperforming" label, Superintendent Dale Hanley told the School Committee Tuesday.

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) called her about two weeks ago to schedule a "formal visit to move us out of Level 4 to Level 3, which is equivalent to moving us out of 'underperforming,'" she said, The visit will run Feb. 2-4.

School Committee Chairman Jack Jovan predicted success, noting the change would mean "getting out from under the stigma" Southbridge has borne in recent years.

"I'm confident we've done what they asked us to do," he said, citing several years' worth of changes in curriculum, budgeting, supplies, buildings, technology, test scores and an improved working relationship with the town.

According to the DESE Web site, there are five levels of "accountability and assistance." Lowest is the one covering "co-governance districts," which Hanley termed more simply "takeover." In those cases (none currently exist), the DESE appoints a committee "to share responsibility for major budgetary and personnel decisions" because the district can't meet improvement goals itself.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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