Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Board of Ed update on Holyoke

Chester: "on the ground in Holyoke on a daily basis"
Alan Ingram overseeing this work
team of three staff members on the ground
"serving as the pseudo-central office team"

"digging into the budget"
staffing arrangements
trying to live by communication
communicated with families "in two languages"
"have been in Holyoke for full two days in the last couple of weeks"
outlined who he has met with
"tremendous amount of good will for taking advantage" of receivership
met with union leadership, mayor, principals, teachers, chamber of commerce, community college, parents, school committee
identifying the assets, identifying concerns
have been interviewing candidates for the receiver
have narrowed list to four: three Latino, two are female, two that are front runners
hope to be able to make a public announcment shortly, doubt that it will be by end of week
Have identified stakeholders, hope to announce tomorrow
group on ground gathering information for stakeholder work
"community engagement is a key" part of work
want to hear from parents on what they want to see in this receivership
to be reported to stakeholder group to build plan
weekly update "has been very well received"
updated FAQ's: shorter translated into Spanish
leadership "needs to shore up" (principals)
budget: Holyoke is experiencing a deficit
"making sure we understand the full scope of the deficit"
anticipated need to introduce some cost saving measures for next year
had asked a partner to do a deeper look at how services are provided; have that information
Doherty: is the superintendent still there?
Chester: yes, and runs district day to day, but anything long term "has to come through me at this point as the temporary receiver"
McKenna asks who is there every day; three names mentioned
Roach: project Grad?
Chester: no longer working in district after this year
Roach: any changes in leadership at Morgan?
No, principal going forward
Morton: at recent meeting in Holyoke, we didn't hear from parents whose students are struggling; how are we engaging those parents?
response: "that's really what we're doing with these community conversations"
"want the meetings to be truly representative of the community of Holyoke"
location, how they're being advertised, "will help to get parents present that these meetings"
Morton "what happens if you aren't successful...going to require a real proactive effort"
Chester: have discovered, state has creditbility "the walk does more than the talk"
met with parents who said "I was an opponent, but it's working"
"not universally, everyone's celebrating the receivership, but it's the action that matters for parents"
Noyce: stakeholders?
response: representative of levels, across city, parents to select parents
now have 18 members, every opportunity we can, have that group be as representative as possible
Craven: budget?
FY16; charter school reimbursement impacted is driving them down close to foundation level
also grants expiring
(missed a question)
still some resistance to recievership
as a district leader "you make your money in April through June"
(maybe EARN...he means a lot of work happens)
"you'd be very impressed by the level of cooperation and collaboration" between district and state at this time
Roach: how much will minimum contribution increase for FY16?
"wouldn't want to misspeak"
and we now have a mess, as no one has the spreadsheet open...they aren't "significantly over"...they're 1.2% over now (and that's without latest update in charter reimbursement)
Chester: as we dig in and we learn, not everything we learn in is positive
systems that are not automated that you'd expect to be automated
legal and labor challenges that we were not aware of before the receivership

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