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 29, 2015

School Committee Meeting of 4/28

Superintendent Taymore offered her announcements, including: * MHS History Teacher and the “driving force” behind the Melrose Veterans Memory Project Lisa Lord has been recommended as one of the Commonwealth’s Unsung Heroines of 2015 and will be honored on June 17th at the State House (more here: http://tinyurl.com/jw45tg5); * we have maxed out Kindergarten classrooms for next year with 312 students and the Supt. will keep us posted on future registrations and respective resource needs; * Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s) for grades 8-12, and student goal setting for grades K-7, are being implemented next year in order to employ more student-centered education planning ultimately leading to greater college and career readiness.

In the Educational Programs and Personnel Subcommittee, the Committee approved the secondary handbooks (no changes from last year’s handbooks) for the 2015-2016 school year; * Assistant Supt. for Teaching and Learning Margaret Adams spoke to the need for English Language Arts (ELA) materials for grades K-5, explaining that current materials aren’t aligned to the Common Core and the work needed by teachers to align manually is enormous, so she recommends purchase (at $240K) starting with the $60K remaining in the textbook materials bond and then funded at $60K/yr. for three years; *  Dr. Adams brought forward members of the Professional Development (PD) Committee to speak to PD activities, including the 2015 Summer Institute offerings/schedule, evaluative efforts (like teacher surveys) to engage in a continuous cycle of PD improvement, charts for “Core Instructional Practices” (e.g. a “Do-Now” and two-column note-taking), PD standards and how offerings are set to meet those standards, and the 2015-2016 PD Plan (which was approved by the Committee).

The Policy and Planning Subcommittee brought forward Policy JC: Elementary School Assignment and Class Size for consideration and the updates passed unanimously. It will be voted for the second time on 5/12.

The Finance and Facilities Subcommittee heard from MHS Principal Farrell as she recommended we continue to participate in the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) process at least through next year while we see the changes they make to their evaluations. Director of Finance and Administrative Affairs Jay Picone spoke to his in-house vs. contracting analysis of special education transportation (finding that in-house is the less expensive option).  Chartwell’s Food Service Director Ken Dolce presented his revenue/expense projections for next year and recommended no increase to school meal prices (which the Committee approved). Supt. Taymore has received the final amount that the city will provide for next year’s budget and has crafted her final draft. The Committee is responsible for passing a balanced budget to send to the Aldermen and (in anticipation of the Joint Meeting of the School Committee and Board of Aldermen on 5/11). We’ll also vote on athletic, elementary music, MHS transcript, and MHS Photography Class fees. Public comment and budget questions will appear on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting for final consideration prior to voting. Finally, rates to rent the Beebe and Ripley School Buildings to the SEEM Collaborative were recommended by administration as unchanged for next year and approved by the Committee.

You can watch this meeting on the MMTV web site or see replays on the Melrose Government Access channel. All related documents are posted on the IQM2 Portal on the School Committee portion of the melroseschools.com site. 

Next meeting is 5/5 at 7:00 in the Aldermanic Chamber and will be televised. It is devoted to final listening, discussion, and vote on fees and the budget. Please send along questions or comments to FY16schoolbudget@melroseschools.com or e-mail the Committee at schoolcommittee@cityofmelrose.org. To find dates and locations of any budget topics, click on http://tinyurl.com/mpa8a6t. To read about the discussions that took place regarding the topics, click on the “Minutes Packet” of the meetings here: http://melrosecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/calendar.aspx. To read the final draft budget, click on http://tinyurl.com/n88baku.