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.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Legislators Meet with School Committee: 3/17/15

Prior to last week’s 7:00 Committee meeting, State Senator Jason Lewis and State Representative Paul Brodeur were kind enough to talk with us about this year’s legislative agenda and how it relates to the educational concerns we have in Melrose. (The information we presented to them can be found here: http://1i8brn1xoauz1pwsvo1ktb7vb1q.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/MSC-Concerns-Relative-to-Legislative-Action.pdf.)

Some highlights:

·      The state doesn’t have a spending problem; in fact Massachusetts is under-spending in many areas. There is a revenue problem, primarily caused by legislated cuts to income tax. A graduated or marginal income tax might remedy that situation.
·      Ch. 70 is the biggest issue after healthcare and we need to continue to lobby for improvements to the formula.
·      Re: the FY16 state budget, they recommended focusing advocacy efforts on the smaller accounts, like the Kindergarten and METCO grants, and circuit breaker (reimbursement for special education expenses).
·      Places to focus might include charter schools (understanding that assessment and reimbursement are very significant issues in Melrose), early education, and potentially technology.
·      Technology: input is especially welcomed on ways to use it for distance learning and on-line courses.
·      Snow has started more people thinking about how to design the school calendar and plan for learning time.
 *  How best to advocate? Identify the bills that most apply to Melrose and inform the legislators; provide communication in any areas of interest and/or concern; invite the legislators to return for more discussion and sharing of ideas.