Margaret Raymond Driscoll is a nine-year Melrose School Committee member who is passionate about excellent teaching and learning for all public school students, and considers it a privilege to collaborate with others who share that passion. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MargaretDrisc. Just to be clear - opinions expressed here do not represent those of the Melrose Public Schools, the Melrose School Committee, or the Massachusetts Association of School Business Officials - they are hers alone.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

School Committee Meeting Notes of September 11th, 2012

Another beautiful fall day – great for anything outdoors! Hope your busy schedules allow for a quick walk at lunch or a stop at the playground with your little ones. Remember – my opinion only here, and documents in red can be found on the melroseschools web site……

Report of the Student Representatives
MHS Freshman Orientation was held at the beginning of the day on August 28th, with a separate, newly added “Welcome to Melrose High School” breakfast for new students and teachers. MHS is hosting the NESBA band competition on Saturday, September 29th at the MHS football field – 5:00 start with MHS going off at 7ish – come cheer them on!

Announcements of the Superintendent
Interviews were completed for a new Business Manager with the expectation of a recommendation on 9/27. * Supt. Taymore provided training on September 14th to teachers on SMART goals, with the deadline for this process on November 1st (MOA Timelines).

Announcements of the Chair
Ms. Thorp indicated that the School Committee booth at the Victorian Fair was a success and that written comments gathered there had been forwarded to Supt. Taymore. Citywide Open Meeting Law Training is scheduled for September 24th and our next meeting is on September 27th.

Consent Agenda
We ultimately approved the School Committee Minutes of August 28, 2012; the Personnel Report (Personnel Report FY13-September); the Monthly Budget Summary (FY2013 Monthly Update-August); second vote on Amendment to Policy 4201 - Professional Staff Positions; second vote on new Policy 4202 - Professional Staff Hiring/Posting of Positions; second vote on repeal of Policy 2114 – Interview Search Committee for Central Office Administrators; second vote on repeal of Policy 2201 – Business Manager; second vote on repeal of Policy 2202 – Special Education and Pupil Services Director; second vote on repeal of Policy 2301 – Interview Search Committee for Principals;  second vote on repeal of Policy 4202.02 – Posting of Vacancies; and approval of Warrants (Warrants 8-30-12).

Educational Programs and Personnel
Supt. Taymore explained that she has been working with Bridge Director Emily Rubenstein regarding assembling a group of library experts to define an ELMS job description for today’s educational needs and offer other counsel. She also indicated that school library volunteers would not experience any change to the library program compared with past years, and that one of the volunteers had graciously arranged for library software training that would include the coordinators as well as some teachers. * In anticipation of the next meeting’s presentation of MCAS results, Supt. Taymore offered a presentation on No Child Left Behind (NCLB) accountability changes (NCLB Accountability Changes). * The MHS presentation originally scheduled was moved to the next meeting as the Guidance Dept. has been focused on working with students at the beginning of the school year.

Policy and Planning
Mr. Lehman offered a recommended update to our By-Laws (By Laws Amendment – DBL – 20120 from 9/13).

Finance and Facilities
Supt. Taymore announced that she is contracting with a local accounting firm to review the district’s system of internal controls (Systemic Review of Internal Controls). She indicated that she did not believe there was any malfeasance, but that particularly at this time (with her entry into the district and the change-over of Business Managers), it would be very useful for us as a school community to examine our financial practice and make any updates that are deemed appropriate. An article in this morning’s Globe North speaks to this decision: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/09/26/melrose-school-audit-will-look-financial-human-resource-practices/9w1drOdV5ffounwizRPuJI/story.html.

I’ll work on getting back to my (temporarily disrupted!) routine of publishing updates shortly after meetings. As always, your kindnesses to students are so very much appreciated and help our district more than you know!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome to my blog!

Dear Readers,

As you may know, for the past four years I have written notes after Melrose School Committee meetings and e-mailed them to folks who I suspect have a keen interest in the goings-on of the discussions held by the Committee. That has been done with two objectives in mind. First, it has hopefully been a way for people to stay more connected with current topics and the resulting decisions that impact our schools within the roles and responsibilities of the School Committee (and always as my opinion only - not as a representative of the Melrose Public Schools or our School Committee). Second, it has been a way for me to process the discussions and (again, hopefully!) improve my level of service to the community. Since maintaining e-mail addresses is getting cumbersome and the fact that jumping into the blog world would allow additional folks to read the notes if they wish, well, here we go! Other kinds of posts are planned too - maybe on educational events around the city or recent articles on education. I hope you find this blog interesting and useful, and I look forward to continuing to serve the City of Melrose as a School Committee member, parent, and friend.


School Committee Meeting Notes of August 28, 2012

The cooler weather is more than hinting at fall - hope your school year is off to an excellent start! Reference documents are noted in red – just open the zipped file on the web site.

Announcements of the Superintendent

Superintendent Taymore offered her Entry Plan (Entry Plan) and her 100 Day Plan (100 Day Plan Progress Report). The Entry Plan reports her process, along with the documents she’s used and the meeting she’s held to inform her understanding of the district. The 100 Day Plan Progress Report details the work she has already done to improve teacher evaluation, Common Core implementation, and communication/discourse. * She announced that school opened very successfully. She indicated that administrators had participated in two full-day sessions of training on the new educator evaluation instrument, adding that the MEA (Melrose Education Association, known less formally as the teachers’ union) would vote the next day on the district/union agreement (or Memorandum of Agreement) regarding the instrument.

Announcements of the Chair

Ms. Thorp reported that the city would sponsor a meeting for all boards and commissions regarding the Open Meeting Law on September 24th at 7:00 in the MHS cafeteria. The MAAV walk is October 28th and the School Committee will sponsor its annual team. We voted to increase the salary of Asst. Supt. of PPS Patti White-Lambright for this year, falling in line with the district salary grid established earlier this year. You can read more in this document: Setting of Salaries. * Superintendent Taymore’s goal planning process was reviewed (Superintendent Evaluation, Superintendent Evaluation 2, and Superintendent Evaluation and Process 1), and we agreed on her 2012-2013 proposed goals. * In addition, she was appointed as the district representative to SEEM (our special education collaborative). * A proposal was presented to move the Melrose School Committee meetings from Tuesdays to Thursdays beginning in January, 2013 (Proposal to Change SC Meeting Dates). We agreed to think about it and put it on the agenda in late winter/spring (before individuals consider running for School Committee so they can factor meeting times into their decision).

Consent Agenda

We ultimately approved the School Committee minutes of August 14, 2012 and August 16, 2012; the Personnel Report; the second vote on Policies 5701: Student Health Services, 5701.01: Administration of Prescription Medications, and 6503: Executive Session; the revised appointment of Attendance Officers; and the Warrants.

Educational Programs and Personnel

Superintendent Taymore presented her current organizational chart (District Org Chart) and will add the Bridge Director (who reports to the supt.) to the chart. She indicated that a Human Resources Handbook was needed (and will be addressed), that her staff is working to create a job description repository, and that the posting of district vacancies is redundant and outdated (and will also be addressed). * Supt. Taymore also explained the need for additional special education staffing at MHS due to shifting enrollments and curriculum sequencing changes. (More in this document: Staffing Request.) The addition will be made by taking advantage of cost savings in other special ed. services and will not require additional funding.

Policy and Planning

The Committee initially approved a series of policy changes that align the hiring of Central Office Administrators and Principals more closely to state law, Massachusetts Association of School Committee (MASC) protocol, and general best practice. Supt. Taymore fully supports these changes. They include an amendment of Policy 4201: Professional Staff Positions; adoption of new Policy 4202: Professional Staff Hiring/Posting of Positions; and repeal of policies 2114: Interview Search Committee for Central Office Administrators, 2201: Business Manager, 2202: Special Education Administrator, 2301: Interview Search Committee for Principals, and 4202.02: Posting of Vacancies. 

Finance and Facilities

Business Manager Greg Zammuto commented on the number of our crossing guards and the safety precautions being taken to protect students as they arrive at and depart from school properties. He reminded parents that there is no drop-off/pick-up in either the middle school or high school parking lot. He also presented a Facilities Update that provides information on the maintenance work performed in schools over the summer.

If you have a chance, the start of this school year is a great time to read up on how the Common Core implementation (noted in the Supt’s Progress Report discussion above) will continue to improve the teaching and learning happening in your child(ren)’s classroom(s). Curriculum Director Margaret Adams has some great links on her welcome page (http://www.melroseschools.com/curriculum2/welcome.cfm)  – just scroll to the bottom. Thank you all for a safe and supportive start to the year, and for the many wonderful things you do to help children!