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, December 4, 2012

School Committee Meeting Notes of November 27, 2012

Another great Melrose Home for the Holidays this past weekend! Our businesses support our schools in so many ways – hope you’ll have a chance to check them out and find something in them for the special people on your list.  I was late arriving to the last meeting due to a prior commitment, but watching it on MMTV was a great way to catch up. Check the minutes for the official version, but here are the highlights from my perspective. (Remember – the page numbers in red are those associated with documents from the 11/27 agenda packet in the IQM2 portal on the School Committee page of our web site.)

Consent Agenda

The Committee approved gifts, donations, and competitive grants (pp. 3-5) as well as the Warrants (pp. 6-48).

Finance and Facilities

Dan Sullivan of Sullivan & Rogers, LLC, presented the findings of their “Review of Systems of Internal Controls over Financial Operations and Reporting” (pp. 43-61). You can also find it here: http://www.melroseschools.com/administration/pdfs/Audit_Report_Nov_2012.pdf. * Supt. Taymore presented an assessment of the district’s textbooks, commenting on the status of last year’s textbook inventory, how she is advising staff to review their textbooks (currency, relevancy, and condition), concerns about the math curriculum, and considerations regarding future impacts on materials/associated expense. Her memo is on p. 62 and the inventory (which Supt. Taymore considers a working document) is on pp. 63-173. She indicated that the biggest challenge is meeting the requirements of the new state frameworks, including determination of an appropriate blending of fiction and non-fiction reading. She applauded John McLaughlin for his support of a pilot project that funds Nooks and materials for the 6th grade history exploratory class. She has also asked Business Manager Jay Picone to ensure that when curriculum is ordered, it includes a full range of materials - from those for students with special learning needs to enrichment materials for students who need more challenge. Supt. Taymore also spoke to the fact that textbooks may be heading to more electronic materials, but that a textbook budget will never go away; free books only apply to “dead authors”. In the distant future, teachers will have the ability to create their own textbooks. * The preliminary budget timeline has been released and can be found on p. 174, indicating that voting on fees by the Committee is expected on January 8th with the full budget presented on January 23rd.  The timeline is very fluid and may change according to information requested by the Committee to Supt. Taymore, financial actions by the state, etc. The expectation is that this budget will be clearer to the community at-large, and that principals will be more fully vested in the discussion of their buildings as full cost-centers. (Supt. Taymore said that there are very “rich” discussions happening among principals about things like instructional materials vs. instructional supplies, etc.)

Policy and Planning

MHS Interim Principal Marianne Farrell presented the MHS School Improvement Plan (pp. 175-189) and Winthrop Interim Principal Cynthia Santosuosso presented the Winthrop School Improvement Plan (pp. 190-210). * Tabled Policy #6208: Committee/Superintendent Relations was brought back for discussion with some amendments from the prior meeting (pp. 211-213) and approved (on a first vote). * Mr. Lehman indicated that the Committee’s annual Self-Evaluation document (pp. 214-215) was included in the packets for review and comment, and the actual evaluation would be conducted at the December meeting.

Announcements of the Chair

The MA Association of School Committees held its annual conference from November 7-10. Ms. Casatelli was our delegate and voted on proposed resolutions. (Final results of that voting and the resulting resolutions can be found here: http://www.masc.org/component/content/article/15-events/473-report-on-actions-taken-at-the-2012-delegate-assembly.) I had the benefit of attending a wide variety of workshops and was able to procure documents/presentations from a number of others (pp. 216-217).

Executive Session

We approved Executive Session minutes from August 14th and September 27th and also talked about a negotiation issue with non-union staff.

Our last meeting of the calendar year is December 11th. Until then, we are grateful for all that you do for our children, particularly at this busy time of the year!