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, March 11, 2014

Citywide PTO - March 11th

Super meeting today with Melrose Citywide PTO! Here are some highlights:

Joan Ford Mongeau, Executive Director of the Melrose Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the merchants' "Celebrate Melrose" event on April 26th in support of Melrose PTO, Inc. When we shop at participating Melrose businesses on that day, those merchants will provide a donation to help our PTO's. It's a win-win;  shoppers get the benefit of high-quality merchandise and services right here at home while knowing they are supporting the schools in a unique way, and businesses get the benefit of shoppers new and old as well as an opportunity to help the school community. Check www.melrosechamber.org for more information as the date approaches, and remember that April 26th is just when you'll be looking for the perfect Mother's Day, graduation, and wedding gifts, so shop local!!

Supt. Taymore spoke to a variety of issues:

* The search for a new middle school principal is going well with interviews beginning next week.
* The budget is an ongoing topic and she meets with Melrose CFO Patrick Dello Russo regularly to monitor state revenues, the snow budget, and evolving cost expectations.
* The cost of special education is increasing greatly, not because more students are being placed out-of-district, but because their needs are becoming more significant (a statewide challenge). In addition, the cost of transporting those students is very expensive (calculated by the Supt. at $125/day) and is not reimbursed separately by the state. Asst. Supt. for Pupil Personnel Services Patti White-Lambright is working this year to comprehensively audit all special education services and determine any modifications that might support improvements to programming. 
* Districts are struggling mightily with looming PARCC field testing; dry runs are showing there are challenges to even prepare computers to accommodate use of the software. (When either online access or caching of the tests is in operation, all else on the computer must be shut off for security purposes, but significant manpower is required to do that on the machines and that takes time, along with sacrificing the other tasks those folks would be doing.)
* A question was asked about PTO's providing computers and/or equipment, and she indicated that PTO's can replace printers and similar peripheral-type gear (and those must be installed by district staff), but PTO's can't provide things like laptops or tablets at this time since we are focused on PARCC compatibility and equity across the district.
* At tonight's School Committee meeting, the agenda shows a proposed new policy regarding when and how Site Councils will present School Improvement Plans. The document is on the IQM2 page of the School Committee section of the website.
* The communication plan is in a holding pattern as it is currently difficult to get the right balance of participants. She will continue to work on this effort so the discussion can begin in earnest.