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.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

City Wide PTO: 2/12/15

Supt. Taymore started by speaking to calendar challenges given recent school cancellations. The principals and administrative team are working together to craft new end/start dates for trimesters and quarters. Last day of school currently stands at June 22nd (but it’s still only mid-February…..). Parents should reference the memo she sent last week for details.

Program changes in mathematics at MVMMS were noted. Supt. Taymore indicated that she has reached out to her superintendents’ listserv to find out how other districts are adapting to the changes issued by the state, and they’ve said they are also struggling with implementation. On 3/11, Principal Conway is conducting a follow-up to his 2/4 presentation, and parents can also listen to him speak about his proposed 2015-2016 MVMMS Program of Studies at Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting.

Re: the discussion around later start times for high school students; Supt. Taymore will propose her recommendation on how to proceed at School Committee on 2/18 (which will include forming a task force that has a short time frame). She said that while there is great merit in the idea, the district must perform due diligence since there are many considerations that go into this decision. Students came to her and asked whether they should do a petition and the Supt. suggested a survey would be better. At this point, there are at least twenty elements that must be addressed. No building exists in isolation – there are domino effects (and she noted things like lunch preparation, negotiating with at least five unions, the impact on elementary drop-off, the employment of high school students at Education Stations, the fact that AP exams must begin at 8:00, MIAA scheduling of athletics, impact on facility rentals like athletic fields and gyms, how the elementary Early Bird program might be affected, etc.). The Town of Ashland is implementing this initiative and it’s been a 10-month process. Info is here: http://ashlandhs.libguides.com/StartTimes.

The Melrose Community Gardens folks are hosting a meeting regarding school gardens on 2/24 at 7 p.m. in the YMCA Conference Room. Topics will include curriculum/programs, resources, needs, and future vision. More info on the group and their work (including the seed library at the Melrose Public Library) at https://www.facebook.com/MelroseGardenCommunity.

We talked about the FY16 Budget Process and Timeline proposals that are up for discussion at School Committee on 2/18. Documents here: http://melrosecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=2289 at 5.A.3. a. and b. There is a Budget page on the site that will be kept updated so parents can follow along: http://melroseschools.com/school-committee/budget/. Supt. Taymore will present the FY16 Draft Budget on 2/24 and the Committee will hear presentations and question/discuss all budget elements prior to voting in April.

Elementary science fairs: they began when it was felt that the science curriculum was inadequate, and that the fairs would add a critical inquiry-based element. Now that the curriculum is quickly evolving, there is discussion around more intentionally embedding the inquiry piece in the school day, and now it’s useful to think about what the science goals are and whether/how science fairs fit into them. In the spring, PTO reps, principals, and the Melrose Education Foundation will meet to discuss this topic and make a plan for next year. For this year, there is concern about the cost of custodial coverage, especially for schools that host two fair nights. Schools fund this cost differently and there was discussion around how best to tackle that challenge.

If you’re looking for an easy dinner on a busy night, come to Friendly’s on Rte. 1 in Saugus on March 5th from 5-9 – it’s a fundraiser to support Melrose Grad Night. And don’t forget – Bridge Trivia Bee on March 28th. Teams are still forming (three people/team) but even if you’re not playing, it’s great family fun for a super cause!