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The state is threatening to  take control of the  Randolph schools because of serious and longstanding financial and educational problems.  The issue that is now coming to a head has been fomenting for years, particularly since 2001. As the town awaits a decision by the end of February, here's a collection of some of the stories the Patriot Ledger has done about the crisis as it unfolds.

Benefit costs could blunt impact of Randolph overrides
Apr. 14: Town officials are working to figure out how to cover the cost of benefits for more than 60 new employees who are to be hired with the $6.1 million from Proposition 2½ overrides approved in the town election. Finance committee Chairman Arthur Goldstein said those costs were not figured into the override requests.

School official: Hard work is just beginning
Apr. 4: The schools have already started work on hiring the 59 new employees, most of them teachers and counselors, that will be added under the Proposition 2½ override approved on Tuesday. The new staff will be used to restore school programs and expand course offerings.

All three overrides pass
Apr. 2: Voters in Tuesday’s town election approved three Proposition 2½ overrides for the schools, police and fire departments totaling $6.1 million. The decision will increase residential property taxes by about 16 percent.

Randolph students fear for schools’ future
Mar. 28: A group of 18 Randolph High School students met Thursday night "because we love this school and we want a change."

Officials plead case for override
Mar. 14: School, police and fire officials urged voters to approve all three of the Proposition 2½ override questions of the April 1 town election ballot. They say the money is needed meet rising needs and budgets that don’t keep pace.

All school board hopefuls back override proposals
Mar. 13: All three candidates for the one-year school committee seat in the April 1 town election support the three override proposals, including one that would boost the school budget by $5.48 million.

All six hopefuls support $6.1M overrides
Mar. 12: All six candidates for two seats on the Randolph Board of Selectmen support all three of the Proposition 2½ overrides proposed on the April 1 town election ballot.

Chief: Randolph needs to focus on its problems
Mar. 11: Randolph Police Chief Paul Porter says the town should focus on its problems, not the media coverage of them.

Seeking solutions: Trying to turn it around
Dec. 18: Elected officials, activists and voters agree that a change in the form of government is the first step out of Randolph’s tangle of problems.

Much diversity, no identity
Dec. 17:  As Randolph’s immigrant population grows, townies say they still “co-exist” with the newcomers

Is Randolph broken? Does anybody care?
Dec. 15: A simmering stew of political, social and financial problems have come to a boil in recent months. The result: A community in crisis.

State board designates Randolph schools 'underperforming'
Nov. 28: The state Board of Education voted Tuesday to designate the Randolph school system “underperforming.” The action was taken after the state Office of Educational Quality and Accountability found “serious deficiencies in the performance” of the school district during a multi-year audit period.

REAL TEAM WORK: Soccer players raise money for team after cuts
Nov. 16: When cuts in the school budget forced the elimination of all but varsity sports teams in the athletic program, a group of student-athletes set out to raise money for the junior varsity soccer and basketball programs.

School's accreditation at risk unless town provides adequate budget
Nov. 13: The New England Association of Schools and Colleges makes 55 recommendations for improving the high school, and nearly all of them involve spending money. Without significant progress, the school stands to lose its accreditation.

State board's visit may help prompt look at education funding
Oct. 31: The state board of education reviews the degradation of Randolph's school system, hearing how education in the town was hurt by budget cuts and loss of teaching jobs. 

Education Reform Act to be graded; State to use Randolph schools as measure; town to host meeting
Oct. 26: State officials intend to study whether Randolph schools are keeping up with the Education Reform Act. The chairman of the state board of education sat down to discuss its plans with The Patriot Ledger editorial board. 

Randolph approves plan for school improvements
Oct. 25: The Randolph School Committee approved a plan to improve the school system over the next five years.

Students in front of Randolph High School speak about the school system. GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
Randolph High gets expected probation; Review team says town hasn't provided consistent support
Oct. 24: The accreditation of Randolph High School is at risk after the New England Association of Schools and Colleges places the school on probation. 

Five-year school-improvement strategy adopted; plan took a year and 250 people to develop

Oct. 23: The plan to improve the schools intends to raise student achievement, inccrease general involvement and get the community to invest in the system and the schools.

School enrollment takes sharp drop
Oct. 20: Enrollment in Randolph’s schools is down nearly 8 percent from last year, the sharpest drop in a six-year trend. And that could hit the cash-strapped school system where it can least afford it: in the pocketbook.

Schools seek 17% budget increase; Superintendent cites rising special education costs

Oct. 5: The Randolph school superintendent calls for a large budget increase, which he says does not even approach what is needed to meet the minimum needs of the community's students.

No more buses in Randolph, but no parents complain
Sept. 7:  The elimination of busing inconveniences students and parents, but the school committee doesn't hear any outrage.

Schools stung by cuts

Aug. 30:  Despite the first budget increase in three years, when classes begin Tuesday students will notice larger classes, no school buses, fewer sports teams at the high school.

Cutting buses saves $452,000 as schools face $3 million in extra costs
Aug. 25: As part of the new school budget, bus service was eliminated to save about $452,000. Randolph is the only town in the area, and may be one of the few in the state, not to offer any school bus service.

Schools' minority-hiring record is hit
July 2, 2007: Minorities make up nearly 75 percent of students in the town's school system, but local civil rights activist David Harris says only 12 percent of the school system’s 531 employees come from minority groups.

Most parents avoided vote on override
June 26: Only 19 percent of school parents went to the polls for the election in March that would have provided the town’s struggling school system with more than $3 million. Now Randolph schools are suffering budget cuts.

Little reaction as Devine Center closes
June 16: Randolph's Devine Early Learning Center is being closed because of budget cuts. The Devine's kindergarden and preschool classes will be moved to the town's four elementary schools.

Schools to lose 300 years of experience
June 13, 2007: Eleven experienced teachers are retiring from Randolph Schools, and there is no money in the budget to replace them.

Two sports, all JV teams eliminated
June 11: Cuts in the athletic program will mean two fewer sports and only varsity teams next year. The already dwindling budget was slashed by half.

Students in front of Randolph High School speak about the school system. GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger
Meeting aims to find funds for clubs, sports
May 29: Under the school budget approved by town meeting last week, funding for sports and extracurricular programs was cut in half. The school system still must come up with an additional $120,000 to maintain the remaining programs.

Balanced books don't take sting out of cuts
May 23: Randolph has adopted a $68.36 million budget for 2007-08. While the budget is balanced, school officials say they need an additional $3.2 million to maintain current programs.

Schools juggle funds but 40 jobs still cut
May 4: Despite increases in student fees and lunch and the cutting of sports teams, Randolph schools must cut more than 40 jobs, about half of them teachers. The Devine Early Learning Center will close, and school bus service will be all but eliminated.

Boards urge hike in school funding
April 19: Both the selectmen and finance committee will recommend increasing Randolph's school budget for the first time in three years, but adding up to $500K will stand mean budget cuts.

School to close as Randolph hacks budget
April 13: Major cuts have been approved by the school committee, including closing the Devine Early Learning Center, eliminating school bus service, and cutting at least 50 employees - including 28 teachers.

Devine school, sports on the chopping block
April 6: With no tax override, Randolph school officials are poised to lower the axe on their budget, closing one building and making the town the first in the state to drop athletics.

School redistricting plan aimed at ending bus transportation

March 31: About half of Randolph's elementary school students will change schools in the fall and school bus service for grades one through 12 will nearly disappear.

Override defeat has educators scrambling
March 30: School officials in Randolph face the task of cutting $3.6 million from its proposed budget, following the defeat of a $4.16 million Proposition 2½ override in Tuesday's town election.

High school students lobby elders to vote for override

March 22: A group of Randolph High School students too young to vote met with residents of the Simon Fireman Community to seek their support of the $4.16 million Proposition 2½ override in Tuesday's town election.

Painful cuts: Teachers, students go elsewhere

March 21: Services in Randolph schools have been slashed due to budget cuts, dropping student enrollment by 16 percent in the past five years as students and teachers alike move to private schools and other districts. The district needs a budget override in Tuesday's election, or it will face more cuts.

Randolph to get high school report in September

March 17: Randolph High School's will know in September the status of its accreditation, and school officials say that recent budget cuts will be reflected in a likely downgrade.

Want to fix schools? Tax hike needed, candidates both agree
March 15: Both candidates for town selectman seat support the property tax override proposed to help pay for Randolph schools. Without it, the district will face massive reductions.

Group of area educators to evaluate how high school measures up

March 8: A team of educators will evaluate the programs offered by Randolph High School in order to decide whether the school maintains its accreditation. The expectation is that the school will be placed on warning or probation.

Randolph not yet giving up on all-day kindergarten
February 16, 2007: School officials are looking at a combination of state grants and tuitions to start a full-day kindergarten program in the fall. They will hear next month whether they will receive the state grant.

Schools to seek smaller budget hike
February 2: The Randolph School Committee has lowered its budget request in hopes that it will pick up support by dropping the price tag. If the request is not voted into effect, the school system faces losing 10% of its work-force.

School system's expense account running dry
January 19: The Randolph school system has only enough money in its budget to cover payroll, heat, lighting and transportation. Administrators are considering a budget override proposal in the next election to help cover costs.

Schools seek 18% budget boost
January 11: School officials in Randolph want to raise taxes by an average of $460 per homeowner to fund the struggling school system.

School budget request up 18.6%

January 10: The Randolph school committee has approved a budget increase of $5.44 million, with goals including starting a full-day kindergarten program and staffing the elementary school libraries.

Schools seek 17% budget increase; Superintendent cites rising special education costs, says even 17% inadequate
January 5: Randolph Superintendent of Schools Richard Silverman is recommending a 17% budget increase, which will still leave the district short on money. The funding shortage has resulted in steadily declining student performance and enrollment, and the school faces possible state takeover.

2006

Board may have to close school
December 8, 2006: A special committee is being formed to look at proposals to redistrict Randolph's elementary schools, which could include closing one of them.

Randolph eyes changes in school districts

December 6, 2006: School officials are looking at plans to redraw the boundaries of the town's elementary school districts to minimize busing. They are also considering closing one building.

Schools hard hit by $2M special ed increase

December 5, 2007: There are too many students and expenses for Randolph's current school budget to handle. Officials say that even if costs are cut, they will need more money.

High school status likely to decline
December 1, 2006: The accreditation of Randolph High School will likely be downgraded once a review is completed next fall due to significant budget cuts.

State OKs plan to spur progress at middle school
November 29, 2006: The state Board of Education has approved plans for getting Randolph Community Middle School off a list of underperforming schools. The school has failed for five straight years to meet the progress goals set out by MCAS testing.

School leaders set budget priorities

November 17, 2006: Reducing class sizes and restoring program cuts will be a priority as the Randolph school system develops its budget for the 2007-8 school year. The school system desperately needs more money.

Parents angered by school budget cuts
November 13, 2006: Randolph's school system is in total crisis, with huge budget cuts resulting in loss of teachers, courses, and activities. Parents are finally getting angry.

Randolph officials say schools in trouble
November 2, 2006: Years of budget cuts have left Randolph's school system in danger of state takeover.

3 towns on U.S. "watch list" after testing
October 21, 2006: A majority of at-risk students did not meet MCAS improvement targets, and their performance fell so short in Randolph, Stoughton and Weymouth public schools that the districts have landed on a federal "watch list".

More bad news for Randolph middle school
October 20, 2006:  Test results released today show that despite officials' optimism, Randolph Community Middle School has failed for the fifth straight year to make adequate progress in math.

Budget cutting leads to special ed growth
October 9, 2006: The elimination of student support programs due to budget cuts has pushed 21.5 percent of Randolph students into special-education programs, well above the state average of 15 percent.

Ex-teachers' health insurance targeted

September 27, 2006: Randolph officials are considering reducing retired teachers' health insurance, which currently costs the town $2.1 million a year, in order to save money.

Out of balance: Class sizes to be examined
September 6, 2006: Randolph school officials will be looking at ways to balance out class sizes in the system's four elementary schools, where one first-grade class has 36 students.

New blood enters as schools look to make the grade
August 28, 2006: The Randolph school system is looking to improve its programs by bringing in new teachers and adding an extra year of math and reading.

Selectmen want meeting on schools
August 23, 2006: Randolph selectmen will be sitting down the the school committee to discuss ways of restoring confidence in local schools, which has been shaken by low MCAS scores, budget cuts, discipline problems and the elimination of school programs.

High school day care rates going up
August 16, 2006: Funding for the child care center at Randolph High School has been eliminated along with funding for other health services, leaving teachers upset at the prospect of its closing. Officials are considering raising the rates to keep it open.
Schools mull gym class requirements
July 18, 2006: A new welness policy being considered by the school committee would require physical education classes for all Randolph students, but would require more money.

School office move halted
July 14, 2007: Citing rising costs, the school committee last night halted a controversial plan to move most administrative offices into the Tower Hill School building, though the work has already begun.

Town rushing to find enough to pay the bills

June 28, 2006: Randolph officials aren't sure there will be enough money to cover some of the budget shortfalls left by the defeat of a Proposition 2 1/2 override.

26 teachers, 9 others to lose jobs in Randolph
June 16, 2006: After voters rejected a Proposition 2 1/2 property tax increase, the Randolph school committee approved $1.75 million package of spending cuts.

Schools outline how they plan to spend any override money

June 2, 2006: If the Proposition 2 1/2 override is passed in Randolph, school officials would use the money to start a full-day kindergarten, restore staff in the elementary school libraries, and continue the recently revived in-school suspension program, among other things.

Budget cuts blamed for enrollment
May 22, 2006: A study by a group of school administrators has found that the biggest reasons parents are pulling their children out of the Randolph school system are safety, academic reputation and low MCAS scores. Pointing to budget cuts as the cause, they are optimistic that the drop in enrollment can be reversed.

32 in schools will get layoff warnings

May 19, 2006: School officials will notify 32 teachers and staff members today that they may not have jobs to return to in Septmeber, in case the Proposition 2 1/2 override is rejected at the June 13 special election. The override would give the schools an additional $2 million dollars.

Pupils make progress in English, but other topics are lagging

February 14, 2006: Although gains have been made by students in Randolph's English Language Learners program, other subjects are falling behind.

Committee: Security's OK, but money could be put to better use
February 10, 2006: Randolph school department is seeking to fill two security assistant jobs at $24 an hour, a rate higher than some Randolph police officers receive.

Average cost of full override $450 a year
January 18, 2006: Randolph schools are seeking an override to cover the full $5.5 million increase sought in the Randolph school budget.
2003-5

Randolph school chief gets $575K buyout
May 15, 2004: School Superintendent Arthur Melia will get $575K in return for resigning at the end of the summer. The deal gets Melia out the door two years before his contract ends, allowing the school board to hire someone else.

School fees squeezing parents
February 28, 2004: Randolph schools, hurting from slashed budgets, are charging students fees for activities that were once free. The result is a drop in participation and a rising tide of anger.

Randolph High keeps its accreditation
November 8, 2003: Randolph High School has maintained its accreditation, despite fears they would lose it. Superintendent Arthur Melia says however that this does remain a risk if the system faces additional budget cuts.

Randolph teacher-parents worry about future of town schools
October 17, 2003: Schools facing budget cuts worry that losing programs means losing students to private schools or other districts.

Group leader says high school cuts too much
September 22, 2003: A leader of Randolph's parent-teacher-student group says the high school received a larger share of recent $2 million budget cuts than other grades. Superintendent Arthur Melia denies this, saying the cuts are spread out equally.

Melia says he expects ‘tough year’ at schools
August 28, 2003: Budget and staff cuts will mean larger classes, fewer courses and a return of fees for high school sports and extracurricular programs this coming school year.

Schools to charge fees for sports, clubs
June 27, 2003: A $2.2 million budget shortfall is forcing Randolph schools to charge fees for sports and clubs, as well as cut 20-22 teaching posts.

Selectmen to push for school cuts
April 9, 2003: Randolph selectemen will press for cuts of $225,000 in the school budget tomorrow, in an attempt to match cuts by all other town departments.