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 28, 2015

School Committee Meeting of 10/27/15

Notes from last night’s meeting are below, and as always, my opinion only!

Supt. Taymore led off the meeting with her Superintendent’s Update. She noted that 2nd Grade teacher Michael Oginski will travel to Washington, D.C. next month to accept the Blue Ribbon Schools recognition on behalf of Lincoln School staff and students. She also announced that November will be “Education Month” in the schools, and will feature Kindergarten, Middle School, and High School activities, as well as Parent University (11/14, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.), a partnership between the district and Melrose Education Foundation. Finally, she reviewed our response protocols for various drills as part of the district’s Emergency Evacuation Plan, and will be returning to the Committee in the future to present on this topic.

MVMMS Principal Conway spoke to the Late Start Time Task Force, indicating that they were looking to the Committee for guidance on next steps in their process. They’ve completed their research and have developed many options, from starting school 15 minutes later to up to an hour later. Many teachers have reservations about moving the time, and this is one subject of collective bargaining (which will begin in the spring). It was noted that making a decision soon would be useful so that parents can begin planning should changes be made. It was agreed that we would hear from legislators at our next meeting regarding the state’s direction on this topic, and also bring questions and/or priorities that will be compiled and sent to the Task Force for their consideration.

Supt. Taymore presented an early draft of the 2016-2017 school calendar in order to talk about topics that she intends to bring to the Committee, including the recommendation to collaborate with SEEM on a common professional development day (next year’s Election Day, which is a busy time since it is a presidential election), discussion around a second professional development day (after MLK Day again? Another day?), and a question regarding Good Friday (since many districts are moving away from this vacation day, like Stoneham and Reading, with North Reading maintaining a half day).

The Budget Process and Timeline for FY17 was approved. One significant change will be the implementation of a Saturday session in March that will allow for all presentations by staff members to occur in an 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeframe. This change should shorten the overall process (easier for the community to follow, and for administrators to accommodate in their schedules) while allowing Committee meetings to focus on questioning and deliberation of budget decisions.

Polices approved on a first vote included JKAA: Physical Restraint of Students, EBC: Emergency Plans, ECAF: Security Cameras in Schools, IJND: Access to Digital Resources, IJNDC: Web Page Publication, and IJNDD: Electronic Communication/Social Media. There was discussion around policy JICH: Drug and Alcohol Use by Students based on the consideration to recommend that school nurses receive training in the administration of NARCAN in case of an opioid situation. The Committee approved this recommendation and Ms. Thorp will bring it to the next Melrose Health Department meeting this week (since the nurses report through MHD).

Announcements of the Chair included a Committee vote to open 25 School Choice spots at MHS: ten freshman, ten sophomores, and five juniors (which was approved). The artifacts attached to Superintendent Taymore’s goals for this year were also approved (i.e. the evidence she must present to show she has accomplished her goals at the time of her review). The Competency-Based Learning public forum will be held on December 3rd at 6:00 p.m. in the MVMMS Auditorium.

Remember, all meeting agendas and documents are available on the melroseschools web site. Next Committee meeting is November 10th and will begin at 6:00 with a roundtable meeting with legislators. The regular meeting will begin at 7:00. 

Happy Halloween, and see you after we “fall back!”