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.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Late Start, Science Standards, ECC Fees, Music/Activity/Athletic Fees, OCR Policies, and More: 3/22 School Committee Meeting

(Reminder: official minutes of the Melrose School Committee can be found on the melroseschools.com web site following approval by the Committee. My notes are below, and edits and errors are mine alone.)

The public session of our meeting kicked off with a ceremonial oath-taking of our newest member Jaime McAllister-Grande by Mayor Dolan. Welcome Jaime!

Supt. Taymore spoke to the recommendation of Middlesex League cities and towns to move start times for high school students to sometime between 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. in the FY18-19 school year. For Melrose, she recommended moving the secondary (both middle and high school) start time to 8:15 a.m. and the elementary start time to 8:03 a.m. beginning in the FY17-18 school year, and the Committee approved that recommendation. (Note: this item will appear on the 4/12 agenda for a vote of re-affirmation in order for the community to provide any additional comment.) Supt. Taymore provided two additional announcements; first, that the MVMMS and MHS PTO’s are partnering to bring a mental health expert to the district on Monday, April 4th at 6:30 p.m. at MVMMS to talk about “the impact of stress and the importance of emotional well-being” in the context of supporting our teens and their friends; and second, that based on Kindergarten enrollments, she recommends adding classrooms this year at Hoover and Horace Mann schools which means that with the current 15 K’s becoming 15 Grade One classes, instead of housing a fourth K at Lincoln and Roosevelt as this year, those two buildings would return to three K classrooms, but a third K (compared with two this year) would be housed at Hoover and Horace Mann.

Asst. Supt. of Teaching and Learning Margaret Adams along with Science, Technology, and Engineering Director Jon Morris presented the state’s new science frameworks for Kindergarten-Gr. 12. The presenters provided a lengthy chart detailing “disciplinary core ideas by grade,” along with a Powerpoint summarizing essential questions, background information, recommendations, and examples of student work.

Budget deliberations continued with a lengthy discussion of ECC fees (continued from the 3/8 meeting) with ECC Director Donna Rosso responding to queries. After significant discussion and debate, the Committee agreed to an 8% increase in annual tuition for ECC students. There was also substantive discussion around elementary music fees with Fine and Performing Arts Director Deb DiFruschia. Supt. Taymore introduced discussion of secondary activity fees, providing a chart listing practices of other local districts.  Athletic Director Pat Ruggiero reviewed proposed athletic fees, commenting that the increase in transportation, football/lacrosse helmet reconditioning, and venue expenses led to her recommendations. Supt. Taymore suggested that guidance, transcript, and photo class fees remain the same for next year.

The Policy and Planning agenda included a report from Supt. Taymore regarding OCR policies. She provided a chart relative to activities needed to meet the requirements along with the completion status of those requirements. The policies were submitted to OCR for their review and revisions/approval by 1/15 (on-time) but she did not receive a response. Another request for response was sent with no guidance forthcoming. Since there are competing deadlines and trainings must be held, OCR has given permission to use the old protocols in order to continue the district’s work. (Once the new policies are received, future trainings will be held to those standards.)

New subcommittee and liaison positions were announced, and a revised Rolling Agenda was presented (with legislators now scheduled for 6/28 from the original date of 4/26).

Finally, a formal announcement was made regarding the MA Association of School Superintendents’ conferring of the 2016 Women’s Educational Leadership Network Bobbie D’Alessandro Leadership Award to Supt. Taymore. Members provided praise and support for her work in the district.

Next meeting is Tuesday, April 12th at 7:00 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chamber of Melrose City Hall. The agenda is expected to include the following topics: proposed FY17 MS & HS Code of Conduct, proposed FY17 MS Program of Studies, re-affirmation of start time changes for FY18, and budget discussions including proposed FY17 Education Stations fees and school lunch prices.