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.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Melrose School Committee Meetings: June - August

(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.)

Welcome to a new school year! Summer seems to have flown by. Before we head get too far into new business, here’s a recap of Committee work since just before students left in June:

MHS Foreign Language teacher Mr. Malley was awarded the MA Foreign Language Association’s New Teacher Commendation Award that recognizes new teachers for demonstrated excellence in teaching as well as involvement in the school community and professional activities. * Supt. Taymore presented a staffing report that spoke to retirements, resignations, leaves, etc. * Asst. Supt. of Teaching and Learning Dr. Margaret Adams, Foreign Language Director Kim Talbot, and members of the foreign language staff presented the program review, a two-year self-reflection process designed to improve services to students. * The Committee unanimously approved the appointment of former MHS Principal Marianne Farrell to the position of Interim Director of Finance and Administrative Affairs, effective July 1st. * School Building Committee representatives presented their findings and final recommendations regarding space challenges in the schools due to increasing enrollments. They had voted earlier in the day to recommend pre-fabricated classrooms as the optimal solution.

We held a pre-meeting to meet with legislators Representative Paul Brodeur and Senator Jason Lewis where we discussed concerns around increasing state mandates and upcoming ballot questions. * In our regular meeting, Supt. Taymore indicated that there are 315 Kindergarten registrations. * MHS Interim Principal Jason Merrill and MVMMS Principal Brent Conway announced the intention to develop a Secondary Schools Culture and Climate Action Plan. * The Committee approved retaining current grade configurations and supported the School Building Committee’s recommendation to employ pre-fabricated classrooms to address our growing school population. * A School Committee retreat was approved for later in the year. * In Executive Session, we approved new teacher mentor positions, a three-year contract for teachers (and others who bargain under the MEA), and an agreement to allow the union president some teaching time relief.

Supt. Taymore presented an overview of the School Improvement Plans for the coming year. * The Supt. announced that the state Kindergarten grant was cut for 165 communities in the state, resulting in a loss of $115K in revenue for Melrose in the coming year while special education funding (Circuit Breaker) was restored to full funding. * $23.5K will be transferred from the Facilities revolving account to furnish this year’s additional elementary classrooms. * The choral instructor was provided funding to teach another class block due to increased enrollment. * In Executive Session, the Committee voted to approve an agreement with Traffic Supervisors (crossing guards) and a retroactive 1% stipend increase for extra-curricular activities, created stipend positions for teacher support, and reinstated a special education Education Team Facilitator position.

Members of the Competency Based Education Task Force presented their findings and recommendations, with Supt. Taymore announcing the receipt of a $150K grant from the Barr Foundation (one of New England’s largest private foundations) to continue this work. * The Committee conducted its annual approval of Supt. recommended staff members as required by law (physician, nurses, resource officer, harassment officer, and attendance officer). * New entrance signage has been employed at Horace Mann and Roosevelt. * The Committee approved funds for non-union personnel salary increases. * Ms. Farrell will facilitate a working group to review the current district rental agreement and recommend changes with respect to contract terms, pricing, etc. * Financials for summer programs were reviewed, with programs generally self-supporting. * A revised Field Trip Policy was approved with Supt. Taymore indicating that she plans to update the Field Trip Approval Form. * Supt. Taymore’s FY16 evaluation was presented, with the Committee finding her work Proficient overall. She has declined a salary increase this year based on the lean budget. *

Next meeting: tomorrow (9/13) at 7:00 in the Aldermanic Chambers of City Hall. You can watch at home on MMTV or watch the video beginning Wednesday at mmtv3.org.