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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

4/8/14 School Committee Meeting

An excellent meeting last night covering a wide variety of topics. Here are some highlights:

* City Recycling Coordinator Jessie Schmitt, along with two dedicated MVMMS parents, are working on reducing waste in the school starting with styrofoam trays. If you have ideas on this topic or want to get involved, contact Jessie at jschmitt@cityofmelrose.org.

* Supt. Taymore presented participation numbers for each MHS sport over the past four years. This year's spring participation is 21% over last year's - way to get involved students! She also posted the average GPA for each winter team and continues to focus our attention on the concept of student-athlete rather than just athlete.

* Enrollments look to level out around 3400 (not counting the ECC), so that is the number the Supt. will use for planning purposes. Comparisons at key enrollment dates (10/13 and 3/14) were presented for review. She noted that K enrollments were expected to increase from the original projections on the FY15 review and that there would likely be a decrease of 8th-9th graders given that some students choose private schools at that juncture.

* An opportunity for 8th graders to visit Costa Rica over next year's April vacation has been proposed. The idea has been sent to the Site Council and PTO for review and recommendation since we don't even run a domestic trip for middle schoolers at this time. What do you think - should middle school students participate in foreign trips run by the schools?

* Education Stations Jr. prices for next year were reviewed and approved.

* School lunch prices were reviewed and there will be no change from this year's prices. The contract with our food service provider, Chartwells, was also renewed for the upcoming year.

* Supt. Taymore indicated that seven students are tentatively planning to take advantage of the school choice option in Melrose next year.

* Four policies were put forward for consideration by the community and the Committee, three of which speak to the management of respectful and productive negotiations with our six collective bargaining units (unions), and one addressing gifts to schools. We will be discussing them and considering a first vote at our 4/29 meeting.

* The budget categories were approved for FY15 and we discussed a variety of priorities should money become available. The budget is constantly in flux, and will be to a greater extent through June, and then (hopefully!) to a lesser extent after that time. As there will be changes, we may revisit discussions around how to direct the Supt. to apply taxpayer dollars in the interest of student achievement.

As always, I am so grateful to all who follow and participate in work that benefits our students. Thanks so much and enjoy the beautiful (hooray!) weather.....