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 10, 2015

City Wide PTO: 3/10/15

Supt. Taymore opened the meeting by speaking to donations to the schools, and the fact that letters need to come to the district when donations are made so the School Committee can approve them. Gifts should be made to schools, not teachers individually, so it’s clear that items stay at schools should a teacher leave the district.

Sun Associates is the group who is facilitating the Technology Audit and they, in conjunction with administrators, are writing an Action Plan. Both will be presented to School Committee on 4/14, the same night that the Technology Budget will be discussed.

MVMMS Principal Conway will be speaking about math sequencing at the MVMMS PTO tomorrow night.

The Start School Later initiative will be discussed at the 3/24 School Committee meeting, where Supt. Taymore will recommend that a task force be formed to investigate and report out by June. Students have done a survey and then conducted focus groups to validate the survey.

The group offered suggestions on how to make the FY16 school budget more understandable to the community-at-large, like improving understanding around the functions performed by individuals in requested positions and how that work improves education (i.e. what does a library media specialist actually do?). It was also suggested that having a visual (powerpoint-type) presentation with a voice-over to explain how schools work could be useful. Supt. Taymore spoke to some of her budget considerations, including the fact that the amount of change this year in the area of teaching and learning has been good, but that it’s exhausting; having more and different kinds of staff members would allow for faster and deeper improvements. (For example, teachers are participating in a lot of training, but after they have learned something, they really want another set of experienced eyes to watch them employ it and help them improve, and we don’t have enough staff to do that right now.) She also spoke to the fact that the curriculum bond for $400K was very helpful to get materials to current levels, but standards and materials are changing quickly and we need a stream of funding to stay on top of it. In addition, the Governor’s 9C cuts were “scary,” especially since we don’t have a contingency fund. She noted that regardless of where parents are in their own children's academic timeline, they should try to think about the skills they want them to obtain before graduating, and work backwards to determine what financial needs should be addressed to set them up for success at the end. (An example: if you value having a global outlook, that might mean you want to invest in foreign language education, so that’s where you invest some of your budget.) She asked us to think about the system as a whole, that what we should expect is a highly desirable school system that meets all students’ needs without labeling any child since all children deserve to be challenged where they are to have the best possible outcomes. She said “there is no wrong choice [in budgeting funds], just competing choices.”

Dates to remember:
·      School Committee Public Information Session on Fy16 Budget tonight from 7-8:30 p.m.
     Melrose Memorial Blood Drive on 3/14 at MVMMS from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
·      Trivia Bee at Memorial Hall on 3/28 – teams forming now!
·      Engineering Night on 4/9 – more info to come
·      Healthy Melrose Road Race and Family Fun Run on 5/2 to benefit Melrose PTO, Inc.
·      NYT bestselling author Michael Thompson, PhD (http://michaelthompson-phd.com/) to speak 5/7 at 7:00 at MVMMS