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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

School Committee Meeting of 5/12

This year’s cohort of MHS National Honor Society is the largest ever, with 100 members. There is an increasing focus on community service (especially group projects) and some of the students spoke to their efforts at our 6:30 pre-meeting:
-       “Reach Out and Read,” a Children’s Hospital Boston program, provides new or gently used books for primary care doctors to provide children. The collection goal was 350 books, and 1589 books were collected and delivered over February vacation.
-       Since toiletries are not covered by food stamps, students set up donation boxes and provided the Servants Heart Food Pantry with 1000 items.
-       A military movie service drive was conducted that involved placing donation bins in six locations around the city. This effort was undertaken last year, and 150 movies were collected and matched by a donor for a total of 300 movies. This year, 300 movies were collected and matched for a total of 600 movies donated.
-       Clothing was collected for donation to families who might be in need. The initial goal was 20 bags, with 35 ultimately received and delivered.
-       Groups of students joined together on May 3d to remove rubbish and leaves/brush from local parks.
-       High school tutoring is taking on enhanced life in the form of e-mail addresses by subject area so younger students can ask questions of tutors for personalized help.

At our regular, 7:00 meeting, the following topics were addressed:

-       Elections for student representatives to the Committee will be held in late May.
-       Education Stations has submitted an application to participate in Harvard University’s Community Action Partners (CAP) program, which provides non-profit organizations consulting in order to address a specific concern. Ed. Stations’ concern is that they have grown substantially and would like a review of their business model.
-       Four MVMMS students have qualified for the National History Bee in Louisville later in May.
-       Four construction projects (Hoover, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Winthrop schools) were discussed and timelines presented.
-       The consent agenda included: * three field trips (Roosevelt 2nd grade to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH in June; MHS iRaiders to Merrimack, NH in June; and MHS band, orchestra, and chorus to perform on a cruise to the Bahamas in Feb., 2016); * 2nd vote on Policy JC: Elementary School Assignment and Class Size; * Report on maintenance projects completed during April vacation; * Personnel Report; * Monthly Budget Report for April; * warrants (bills the district pays). All items were approved.
-       Anticipated enrollments for the 2015-2016 school year (which don’t account for students who choose a private setting for high school) by school and grade.
-       Summer academic plans, including high school credit recovery and middle school support.
-       The FY14 End-of-Year independent financial audit of the schools. There was one minor finding and that was addressed immediately with no follow-up needed.
-       A request for feedback on this year’s budget process in order to make it more effective next year. Comments can be sent for review any time and Committee comments can be formally submitted by or at the 5/26 meeting.
-       Committee over-arching goals were re-affirmed and preliminary work was begun on next year’s SMART goals, with further work happening on SMART goals and action items on 5/26 and in June.
-       Advocacy efforts continue, with the Committee giving the Chair approval to send a follow-up letter to legislators regarding challenges faced by the district that can be improved by legislation.
-       A clarification that there have been no legal settlements in the district since at least 2012 (the last year that was researched).