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, March 27, 2014

3/25 School Committee Meeting

Highlights this week focus on budget and policy as well as a couple of other notes.

Points of information
* Roosevelt Principal Grace Basile has tendered her resignation as of June 30th and Supt. Taymore will bring forward a plan for finding her replacement at the 4/8 meeting.
* 16 French students returned Sunday from a homestay with St. Witz (near Paris). To see evidence of their excellent experience, check out http://melrosestwitz.blogspot.com/.
* A cyber-seminar was held this past week to help parents and students understand the challenges around use of technology in ways that aren't appropriate or healthy and how to address them. In addition, the middle and high school have sent notices to parents regarding some of the web sites being used for inappropriate conduct in many areas of the country.
* Seniors who are participating in 4th quarter internships are technically off-campus after next week. These students have opportunities to pursue experiences in a wide variety of topic areas and have found them to be practical and rewarding. Special thanks to our local organizations who provide wonderful support for our students!
* Textbooks continue to be purchased from the bond money approved by the Aldermen last year. Prior to purchase, different selections for each course of study (e.g. geography) are reviewed and thoroughly vetted by teachers, the respective department chair, Asst. Supt. for Teaching and Learning Dr. Adams, and the Curriculum Working Group (comprised of administrators, teachers, parents, a community member, and me). 
* MPS IT Director Jorge Pazos is pursuing some grants that may help pay for some technology - more info as he gets results. (BTW - did you know that the IT Department has a blog? It has interesting reads on school bandwidth and traffic. Check it out: http://tech.cityofmelrose.org/)
* As of Tuesday there were 261 students registered for Kindergarten this fall which is similar to last year's experience. (As of 10/1/13 we had enrolled 279 K students so we expect more students to enroll between now and the start of school.)
* Staff is working very hard in the areas on which Supt. Taymore's Strategy Plan focuses. 

Special Education Draft FY15 Budget
* As of Tuesday, 620 MPS students receive some kind of special education services which represents 16.8% of our enrollment (up from 15.9% on 10/1/13). The state average is 17%.
* Ms. White-Lambright's proposed budget contains no request for new personnel.
* Next year we anticipate 52 students will be placed out-of-district (down from 53 this year, although that could change at any moment).
* We try to use in-house programs to help HS students. Next year our post-graduate program has room for additional enrollments (and students from other districts can apply and would pay tuition).
* Social and emotional needs are growing, with more students who might especially need "wrap-around" services (at the beginning or end of the day).
* We are morally and legally obligated to offer all students a free and appropriate education and that's what we seek to do. We can't control what special needs incoming students may have but must be prepared to provide services. 
* Of critical importance: our special education education is only as good as our regular education program. By embedding a tiered system of support (determining student understanding in every subject area on an ongoing basis and helping students grow to the next level), the need for special services later on should decrease in particular areas (like K-3 reading instruction as a foundation for being able to understand information in subject areas like math, science, and history later on).

Info on the rest of the meeting in the next post! (And don't forget that you can access documents related to many items above at melroseschools.com, School Committee, IQM2, agenda for 3/25.)