Hoping you are all shovelled out - this was a tough one!
We held a very useful School Committee meeting on Tuesday and here are some of the highlights...........
* Thanks to the hard work of Food Service Manager Ken Dolce and our wonderful cafeteria crews, food service financials are in the black which is such a help for our bottom line (and a struggle for all school districts since the federal requirements are very stringent). Best of all, I'm thinking that students find the food tasty and satisfying so they can focus on their school work.
* Melrose High School is once again fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Quality partnering between the schools and the Department of Public Works resulted in a systematic tackling of facility issues (like dealing with worn rugs, strict oversight of the cleaning company, making plans for capital improvements like the HVAC system, and opening the beautiful new science wing). All other standards were previously deemed appropriate with many commendations.
* Supt. Taymore introduced the draft FY15 Budget, sharing her goals and challenges for the coming year. We will not have a good handle on state revenues until May or June, so no bottom-line information was provided - just some rough estimates. Mayor Dolan registered some concern by indicating that the city does not "have a sustainable economic model to fund the schools." The Committee will hear about different expense categories from the end of February through the beginning of April so stay tuned and send along your thoughts on the tough choices we must make. (The presentation along with the budget timeline is on IQM2.)
* Our collective bargaining agreements with the 284 Melrose teachers were combined into one document, marrying the compensation and work environment pieces with accountability expectations. Having sat on the bargaining committee, I truly feel that we all worked together to support student learning. Neither "side" (although I don't really like to think of it that way) received everything they had hoped for, but both sides clearly heard the most important issues from the other, and worked to find solutions that ultimately support learning. I think the agreement helps us all focus more on rigor and professional culture - two areas proven to improve student outcomes.
Ok - back to spreading kitty litter on the stairs. Thanks for getting out - rain or snow or sleet - to help support our students!!
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.