Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Biancheria notes that we were informed by a letter from the Governor, which is not what usually happens...yes, the new administration is sending out letters on DESE grants directly...
vote to accept
Boone: received a forwarded copy of an email
WPD was not invited into the grant process
people well notified in advance
groundbreaking that didn't reach out in advance, technology issue
invite those who were unable to join us
ceremony directly tailored to that group
Petty: work with DPW for celebration of next phase of progress
structure in place
sometimes we're chasing items, rather than setting the tone for the district
"really have a conversation"
look to this body as a governance body
improve the structure of meetings: create a consent agenda, leave some time for items that are more importance year have MASC trainings every year, regardless of who is on the committee
look at strategic planning and where the committee should go
not get distracted on where the district could go
working the superintendent: principal PD and mentoring
parent engagement and structure
lay out some of the research on this nationally
lessing the items and then look for involvement of the community
hope that we can take this and maybe discuss it again
Petty: suggests it going to Governance
Monfredo: something we could discuss
Petty: have meeting soon, bring it back to the full committee
O'Connell: at the time we do meet in September, could ask superintendent for her goals
have some alignment with her goals
Biancheria: keeping in mind as we move forward with this
items that are placed on the agenda are from the public
"this is what we do as a School Committee"
"we are elected officials...issues of concern that arise...that need to be on the agenda"
Novick: professional development of MASC, as raised here, makes it clear that there parts that are our job, and parts that are not
"There are items that do not need to be on an agenda"
one real contrast with other committees in their levels of effectiveness across the state is the focus on what is our job, under state law
O'Connell: our meetings are quite brief, comparison
chance to watch us
"important that we don't get ourselves caught up in what is the Superintendent's job and our job"
"the more information we can share to the public"
Ramirez: agree that we do that quite effective on the budget "we have a great budget"
agenda is "very very dense with request for information without knowing where we're going"
division between informative and micromanagement
referred to Governance
Councilor Palmieri speaks of community need for pool
"will work cooperatively and do any and everything that I can" to make this happen
Biancheria: thank for interest
hope that conversations of past can be packaged for use of building committee
Petty: difference of opinion around timeline (with Palmieri)
if we don't get invited to continue forward with building, we can talk about other funding for fixing current pool
Novick: is it the intent that we would raise this as part of a major rebuild? or is the intent to fix the current pool?
if it is to fix the current pool, it remains on top of the school's electrical plant. That is not possible, responsibly.
If the intent is to bring it forward as part of a major renovation or rebuild, we should be aware of the history of Newton North, the "Taj Mahal" of high schools, which caused a restructuring of how schools are funded in Massachusetts
Boone: the story of the South pool is the story of the South pool
"water and electricity just don't mix"
very valuable asset we are unable to use
in intial conversations with the state have indicated that we'd like to continue with this asset
"I cannot recommend the repair of the pool" as moving the plant would cost $200,000 plus fixing the pool
if the community is interested in that, we will have to discuss how to pay for it
Petty: send to F&O; if MSBA work fails to move, will look for private funding
We're starting off with a couple of recognitions: WEDF and the Worcester Cultural Coalition, and Hanover Insurance and Harkins Community Consulting.
There is no report of the superintendent.
Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports is reporting out on their June 23 meeting.
We have LOTS of congratulations and recognitions: AbbVie for the Burncoat Middle library; Nelson Place for a "Healthy Lunch for a Healthier Me" art contest win; Nelson Place for their donations to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp; Harvard Pilgrim, for their mini-grant to Thorndyke Road; Good Sports and Snapple for athletic equipment to Doherty; and the Department of Public Health, the Community Connections summer program; the Facilities Department, and the Hector Reyes House for their work on the Joint Use Agreement.
We have a $25.00 donation from Target to accept for Tatnuck Magnet.
We have our annual item to make FY16 budget transfers as required (which will go to F&O for our quarterly reports).
We're being asked to accept a donation totally $5000 for the Healthy Start awards for the Breakfast in the Classroom schools that received the EOS awards.
Mr. O'Connell is asking to review the teacher climate survey.
He also wants to "formulate a plan for restoration of the pool at South High Community School" (which is still on top of the school's electrical plant).
Miss Ramirez is asking that we work with the administation on strategic planning and goal setting.
The administration is sending our annual audit of the student activities funds to F&O.
Mr. O'Connell wants to look at redoing the Worcester East Middle auditorium.
He also wants to look at expanding grade 6 programming at middle schools.
Mr. O'Connell also wants to schedule (another) groundbreaking for Nelson Place. Silly season, people.
The administration is sending consideration of participating in Community Eligibility to provide free lunch to all students to F&O for consideration. Good coverage of this by Scott O'Connell today.
We're being asked to accept a grant of $135,000 for early childhood work with Head Start; it will pay for two teachers and two teacher assistants for extended day and family support.
We're being asked to accept a grant of $55,940 from the Perkins Act; it looks like it's going to purchase diesel equipment for South and welding equipment at Tech.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
WPS receives approximately $14,000 for the nursing department and $8000 for Head Start as reimbursement (aka: we don't receive it as a separate grant item) for the work that's being done on asthma. This is a working group with local hospitals to collect data (working directly with kids) on cutting down incidents of absences among kids with asthma by keeping them healthier by being certain their treatments are followed. Given the incidents of asthma among our students--high--it's very imporant work, and we've already started to see results!
Thanks to the budget office for this. As I learn more about the auditing process, I'll post on it.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Tiffany Mungin spent many nervous weeks researching and writing her paper about the Vietnam War. Her high school graduation was on the line.
Unlike most New York state seniors, who vied for their diplomas by taking the state’s standardized tests, Ms. Mungin had to write a history research paper and an analytic essay in English/language arts. She also had to conduct an original science experiment and undertake an applied-mathematics project in order to graduate. The 18-year-old’s work would have to be evaluated by at least two teachers, and she would have to defend it in formal presentations to panels of educators.
8mm. William S. Coleman III request City Council place before the voters on the November 3, 2015 Election Ballot the following non-binding question: "Should there be a moratorium on Standardized PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Testing?"While testing doesn't fall under the City Council purview, local ballot questions are. This looks to me like a misunderstanding of House Bill 340, which calls for a three year moratorium on all measures surrounding testing (of both MCAS and PARCC), which was called for by the EAW and the Worcester School Committee; that is, we wouldn't see accountability level shifts, state takeovers and the like. The idea is that the state could then have a reasonable, non-rushed conversation about systems of assessment.
A moratorium on PARCC alone would not have that affect, as, presumably, we would simply stay with MCAS.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Worcester has 21 kindergarten instructional assistants back on the line again. Give your legislators a call!
UPDATE: Rep. David Linsky of Natick is circulating a letter to his House colleagues, calling for an override of this veto. More as I have it.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
- The House bill (which they called "the Student Success act") was unanimously opposed by Democrats and had significant opposition from some Republicans (27 voted against it). That was for different reasons, of course: in the case of the Democrats, much of the concern came around the perceived lessening of accountability provisions, particularly with regard to low income students and students of color (both of whom have not fared well in some states when such things are left entirely to the states). The conservative Republicans who opposed the bill in many cases did so due to concerns about federal overreach in general. Testing in every grade 3-8 and in grade 10 is still required, as is publicizing results as a body and for subgroups. The bill passed includes an amendment providing that students whose parents opt them out of mandated testing are not counted against the state; it also includes language that bars the federal government from requiring the Common Core be adopted (which it didn't. But...) It did not include an amendment that would change federal funding to block grants (which would have been a major headache for urban districts), but it caps federal spending, which is going to be a big issue, and it includes Title I "portability," meaning that the low income funding follows the child, even to a higher income district. More details on what was in it here and here.
- While the Senate bill is more bipartisan to begin with, Senator Murphy of Connecticut proposed an amendment which would add in requirements that schools intervene in the lowest 5% of schools and specified subgroup reporting; it failed. I saw some debate yesterday on Twitter on just what that will end up meaning. At this point, there's not a lot of bargaining points in the Senate version of the bill for when it goes to conference committee; this would have been one. Also, watch the Burr amendment today, which would change how Title I works.
- At this point, the President has promised to veto both bills as proposed. While it may be possible to hammer out something that can make it through both houses (the Democrats don't seem to have the votes to block it in the Senate), it's not clear that they can come up with something he'll sign.
Monday, July 13, 2015
I am pleased to announce two acting appointments: Mark Brophy, Acting Human Resource Manager and Yuisa Perez-Chionchio, Acting Principal of Goddard School of Science and Technology.
Mr. Brophy has served in the Worcester Public Schools’ Human Resource Department since 2000. I will post the vacancy this week for the Human Resource Manager.
Prior to this acting appointment, Ms. Perez-Chionchio served Worcester Public Schools as the Director of Supplemental Academic Programs and Services. Goddard School’s progress the last several years reflects the shared commitment of teachers, families, students and community. You are aware that we have been engaged in the search for a permanent principal. However, that initial search did not yield the leadership match we were seeking to continue the progress underway. Mrs. Perez-Chionchio has a wealth of experience as a K-12 teacher and educational leader including services for English Language Learners, curriculum and academic interventions that support high student achievement.
Sunday, July 12, 2015
Construction at Nelson Place will begin this week. Activities during the first few days will includeThe plan at this time is for work hours to be Monday-Saturday, 7 am to 5 pm.
- Work on access roads around each side of the existing school
- Construction of a ramp to create access from the lower side of the parking lot to the upper play area
- Installation of construction fence and erosion controls
- Tree clearing at the upper site
There will be no blasting during this upcoming week or the week of July 20th, and we will continue to provide updates on upcoming construction activities so that you are aware of what to expect.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Two details that are good to know:
- districts that have 40% of students qualifying through the state certification process (that is Health and Human Services plans) are qualified to switch offering free breakfast and lunch to all students. The count under which they were certified counts for four years, unless they go up, in which case their count goes up (it can't go down).
- USDA reimburses those districts at 160% of the state certification count
Here's the state's breakdown on the options for counting kids in Community Eligibility communities (the state is using option 4):
So what exactly, beyond the break in the count of who is low income (and hang on to that, because we're going to come back to it), is going to be affected by this change?
"Shrug" on local use.
Public reporting is something we all need to be on top of. We're all going to have to get very, very used to pointing out that no, we don't suddenly have fewer poor kids.
MSBA...they don't know yet.
And research...well, there's the kicker, right? We just tossed out several decades worth of measurements, haven't we?
So, since the state has now taken away most (but not all) of the reasons why many districts were staying OUT of Community Eligibility, don't be surprised to see more districts moving to it. The state sort of just shoved the whole state into this calculation, anyway; we may as well take advantage of the part that feeds kids. More kids being fed is GREAT!
Let's keep focused on the other half of this, too, though, as there are still parts of this that need fixing and better working out. For one, I'm not convinced that the way the state is choosing to count kids is really going to catch every kid. For another, the Chapter 70 answer isn't enough yet. Worcester (for example) is going to drop from 75% to somewhere around 50%. While "hold harmless" will kick in on this one, too, and the state is airily talking of increases to the increment, I haven't seen much activity on this one, yet. That's worrying.
And, man, the accountability system is just it's own whole mess, isn't it? Two testing systems, a 30% drop in the number of kids in poverty (but only by percentage)...can we start over?
*without the seriously annoying little star person. And thanks, as always, to sources!
Friday, July 10, 2015
Watch the quarterly budget updates. We'll have to find it somewhere.While Worcester avoided a budget hole with its kindergarten aides, it’s now facing another sizeable deficit after a cherry sheet released by the state showed the city’s fiscal 2016 charter school reimbursement money came in roughly $650,000 below what local officials had estimated, according to Mr. Allen. While he said the district had budgeted about $350,000 extra next year with the expectation there would be at least some shortfall, that would still leave $300,000 they would have to make up.“That’s concerning,” he said, adding it was still too early as of Friday to say how the school department could close the gap.
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
As always, no promises on names and such, but I'll get what I can. Updating as we go once we start!
Introduction by Chair Sagan, as they're all here now.
"have invited expert testimony the beginning section...have tried to group that on specfic themes if you could...after that, public testimony"
"restrict topic of Board hearings"
will begin with testimony from invited guests, speak up to five minutes
public must keep comments to three minutes
will call two to three speakers at a time
Background for today's #PARCC forum: Commissioner Chester is not paid by PARCC, & he does not have a vote on whether Mass adopts it. #maedu— Massachusetts K-12 (@MASchoolsK12) July 7, 2015
From a purely practical point of view, I don't know how you'd do this: assumedly, DESE will make a recommendation to the Board (or the Board will seek one). If it doesn't come from Chester, it will come from someone who works for him, so...
Monday, July 6, 2015
BUT, before the big announcement splash, we have some work to do: as part of the agreement, the city is paying for NEW MULCH for our playgrounds! This will roll out over the next several weeks. To make this manageable, we'll have WPS oversight, but we need some volunteer labor to get the mulch spread.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
That last bit from Facilities...
Next meeting is probably July 29th.