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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

School Committee Meeting Notes of September 27, 2012

We’re well into October and the month is flying by! So many great things happening – sports, band, and of course academics. Our School Committee meeting of September 27th covered a lot of great things too – a very substantive session.  For the official version, please check the meeting minutes, but here are the highlights from my perspective. (Remember that the items in red are documents located on the Agendas page on the SC section of the MPS web site.)

Senator Katherine Clark (joined by Representative Paul Brodeur and bill supporter Amy O’Leary of Strategies for Children)

Senator Clark, co-sponsor of H. 4243: “An Act Relative to Third-Grade Reading Proficiency”, announced that the bill had been signed by Gov. Patrick the previous day. She indicated that 39% of MA third graders read below grade level, and that 50% of third-grade students in 100 communities read below grade level. The bill establishes an early literacy panel to support improvement in this area. For more information, click here: http://www.mass.gov/governor/pressoffice/pressreleases/2012/2012926-close-achievement-gap.html.

Report of the Student Representatives
MHS students welcomed Spanish exchange students, and indicated that the Guidance Dept. was hosting a College Fair on October 9th (with 50 colleges expected to participate).

Announcements of the Superintendent
Supt. Taymore offered a progress report on her 100 Day Plan (100 Day Plan Sept 29). <If you want to know what your superintendent has been doing every day, it’s right here!> She also introduced her New Superintendent Induction Coach, Rosemary DiTullio. * Supt. Taymore announced that Winthrop Interim Principal Bob Arsenault is stepping down for personal reasons and that the position will be posted internally. (Parents were notified immediately.) * She indicated that she is searching for a new Business Manager and that the Committee would be considering a contract in Executive Session. (We reported out that we had approved a contract.) * School, subject, and proficiency gap/growth MCAS results were presented (MCAS Data), indicating whether schools were above target, on target, no change, improved below target, or declined.

Announcements of the Chair
Ms. Thorp presented the tentative School Committee meeting schedule for 2013 (2013 SC Calendar), which was approved with the understanding that we may revisit it if Thursdays seem like they may be a better fit later next year. * Open Meeting Law Training was recorded and DVD’s have been made and forwarded to principals. Supt. Taymore has a copy available should anyone like to view it.

Consent Agenda
Ultimately approved were the School Committee Minutes of 9/11/12, a second vote on Committee By Laws (By Laws Amendment), and Warrants.

Educational Programs and Personnel
Guidance Dept. Chair John Buxton presented a three-fold review including the Class of 2012 Update, Standardized Test Review, and Middle School to High School Retention (MHS Update).  He stressed the importance of finding the best post-secondary match for graduating students. * Responding to a prior Committee request, Mr. Zammuto presented an FY12 vs. FY13 comparison of staff attrition. With start dates on or after 7/1/11 (FY12), the district had 47 new hires compared with 51 in FY13, an increase of four new hires this year. (A full list of those changes along with a listing of most MPS personnel can be found at Administrative and Teaching Staffing).

Policy and Planning
Asst. Supt. of PPS Patti White-Lambright presented an update to our Strategic Plan (Strategic Plan – Year 3 – 2012).

Finance and Facilities
Ms. Casatelli distributed a School Committee blog proposal for consideration later in October.  * We voted in favor (and with appreciation), gifts and donations by generous members of our community (Acceptance of Donations Memo). * A memo was presented that reviewed financial details of the newly purchased health curriculum as well as monies incurred for the Victorian Fair School Dept. booth manned by Committee members (Health Curriculum and Victorian Fair).

Stay tuned – I’m catching up on Committee updates! While that’s happening, thank you - thank you (as always!) for all the time and energy you devote to our students. Together we really can make a difference!