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, October 21, 2015

School Committee Meeting of 10/13: MCAS, Staffing, Supt. Goals, and More

Last Tuesday’s Committee started with a brief presentation by Early Childhood Center (ECC) Director Donna Rosso, joined by School Psychologist Jaime Hickey Wiklund and Social Worker Jennifer Centore as they took on the maiden voyage of our new “MPS Highlights” segment, coming once per month. They noted that there are now 320 students at the ECC and that social/emotional/behavioral skills play a large part in student learning. They’ve purchased an updated version of the Second Step curriculum that includes positive behavior interventions, including self-control and self-regulation. Teachers and paraprofessionals have participated in trainings that prescribe the use of consistent language so that students hear and understand expectations about success in every classroom (and can be used as they progress to elementary school). The program is becoming embedded, rather than stand-alone, instruction.

Announcements of the Superintendent included a report from the School Wellness Advisory Council that noted health and wellness actions required of different stakeholder groups. A schedule of events is being developed for Kindergarten registration for the coming year in anticipation of including more outreach and understanding. The district and Melrose Education Foundation are partnering to host Parent University on 11/14 at MVMMS. It’s designed to help parents and community members learn more about the schools. Technology purchased with monies approved by the Board of Aldermen in early October is being received and imaged in order to place it in schools as soon as possible. A three-year grant received by the Melrose Police will provide for a School Resource Officer at MVMMS.

MCAS results were presented by rotating groups of Directors, Principals, and Asst. Supt. of Teaching and Learning Dr. Margaret Adams. Great strides have been made at MHS toward closing the achievement gap. In ELA, they are attributed to data analysis, additional writing in class and at home, and having highly trained teachers for special ed. students. In math, students realized the highest percentage of students ever in the advanced category. They are still closing the achievement gap in math. Science scores at MHS were similar to last year with more students proficient vs. advanced. This content area remains a significant challenge at the elementary level and even more so at the middle school level.

A staffing presentation was developed that explored the elements surrounding teacher retention. The reasons teachers stay in the district include having a positive relationship with their supervisor, professional development, opportunities to be leaders, and feeling that others trust their skills. The Superintendent has developed recommendations that have budget and administrative implications, and include things like finding more ways for teachers to be involved with the community-at-large, developing more relationships with higher ed. to place more student teachers in-district, hiring more teachers with dual certification, creating programs for more minority hiring, and providing even more leadership opportunities.

A number of policy agenda items were presented, including intentions around review of finance policies, policies that need editing based on change in law/regulation, and policies that address latex allergies (a new concern in our district).

The detailed Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Annual Report was provided for review.

The initial phase of approving FY16 Superintendent goals was held, as we approved the Standards and Indicators on which she will be evaluated during the coming year.

As always, documents are on the melroseschools web site under School Committee. Vimeo of the meeting is on the mmtv3.org web site, under Government Meetings. Next Committee meeting is Tuesday, October 27th at 7:00 in the Aldermanic Chamber.