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, February 26, 2015

School Committee Meeting: 2/24/15

In addition to Student Representatives from MHS, two Student Reps from MVMMS (Cain Murphy and Mary Kate Mahoney) joined us and provided welcome updates on middle school happenings. Great job by all of our students!

Supt. Taymore’s Updates: * School Improvement Plan updates are now posted on school web sites. * There is a little over $60K left of the curriculum materials bond that will be held for necessary future purchases. * The two finalists in the Lincoln Principal search visited the district this past Monday and Tuesday, and Supt. Taymore intends to announce a decision by this Friday (although that will hinge on successful negotiations with the candidate). * Special thanks to the Melrose Education Foundation for grants totaling $27K to teachers, as well as to the Melrose Cultural Council for grants totaling $2400 for a variety of arts programming in the schools. * METCO grant cuts by the state are negatively impacting cities and towns in the Commonwealth, and Supt. Taymore brought forward a letter penned by the Superintendents’ Association to Gov. Baker advocating for full support, including funding, for the program . School committees were invited to sign on and the Committee voted to add its name to that letter of support. * MCAS and PARCC testing dates will move out a little bit due to this winter’s extreme winter and resulting school cancellations, so watch for more information from principals.

In the Finance and Facilities Subcommittee, Supt. Taymore and Director of Finance Picone presented a review and analysis of recent 9C cuts to the state (i.e. cuts to the in-force FY15 budget). Melrose will feel the effects of cuts in the areas of the Kindergarten grant (almost $33K); METCO (about $40K since November, 2014); Circuit Breaker special education reimbursement ($9K); and a 2016 cut of $20K for non-resident transportation. While not in the schools budget, the Melrose city budget will be affected by a cut in Charter School Reimbursement monies that could total $10-15K. The second item on the agenda was the Superintendent’s presentation of the proposed FY16 School Budget. This budget represents the programs and staffing that the Superintendent and her team believe continues to improve teaching and learning as well as student achievement. A member noted that this budget is likely more than the city is able to fund, and we must have serious discussions about each budget element and its importance; as such, it’s possible that we may need to remove many of those elements, but it’s only February so we will listen to what the community has to say as we move through the process. (Note about the Q&A section of upcoming budget meetings; if you have a budget question and would like to submit it for response by the Supt. during the budget process - 15 mins. during every budget meeting - please send it to: FY16schoolbudget@melroseschools.com. We'll get to as many as we can!)

The Policy and Planning Subcommittee brought forward policies on field trips/student travel, bidding requirements, and domestic violence leave and they were all approved as a first vote.

Chair Thorp facilitated Supt. Taymore’s mid-cycle performance evaluation, and the Committee voted her “On Target” in all four goal areas. Chair Thorp also noted that the State Senate leadership (about one third of the Senate), came to Melrose on a listening tour this week and met with the Mayor, members of the Board of Aldermen, School Committee members, and City of Melrose administrators and heads of boards/commissions, who shared concerns and recommendations regarding how the Senate might consider and support mechanisms by which a city like Melrose could continue to support ourselves without merely requesting additional monies.

Next meeting: 3/3 at 6 p.m. We start with a Budget 101 presentation - an opportunity for parents and community members to learn more about following the FY16 school budget process, and how to participate in a meaningful way. At 7 p.m. we begin our more formal meeting that will include a look at the city's intentions around improvements to the MHS Resource Center as well as a series of budget topics presented by Supt. Taymore.