Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Chester: received last week final district review
declared underperforming in 2004
pretty alarming review
visiting district Friday
"I ran into no one...who called into question the findings of the review"
"nothing in my visit suggested to me that the review was inaccurate"

DESE: findings of review
has been on DESE improvement plan since 2012
4 schools, 2,228 students
51% white, 44% Latino, 72% high needs
student assessment scores "are alarming low"
comparison group is a little different than normal, 2nd lowest profienct & advanced in the state
all three schools are in the lowest 10% of schools in state (8,3,6)
only schools lower for middle/high are alternative schools
four year graduation rate of 62.9%
dropout rate is twice the state average
10% of all students suspended at least once, 19% of secondary students
34% of students failed at least one course last year
district did review draft of report; all changes suggested were made (though district notes that they could change only facts presented if they were incorrect)
in all cases, state starts with commended, strengths, then what to fix
in some areas, state offers no strengths or promising practices
"leadership is in a state of disarray"
"this primarily falls into school committee not adhering to its roles and responsibilities"
failure to attract and retain key leaders
between this year and last year, on third superintendent
Q: how were they appointed?
not through public process, public interviews
McKenna; interim superintendents: did they get them from an organization?
"in some cases, it was an individual approaching the district and offering their services, or someone knowing someone"
curriculum and instruction: in most cases is not complete
instruction at middle/high school lacks challenge and well-structured lessons
little differentiation of instruction, limited student engagement at secondary
assessment and data use
lack of district assessment system; in transition
insufficient training and time to use of datea
no technology plan and inconsistent access to technology
professional development and HR
high quality implementation initial of educator evaluations
no comprehesive PD plan, lack of teacher involvement in PD
student support: no tier system of support
"I would say that this is perhaps one of the more troubling areas" in the report
classroom climate and disruptive behavior
"needs of English Language Learners are not being met at all"
staff do not meet the needs of the students in the school district
finance and asset management
middle/high schools "a beautiful facility" three years old and well-maintained
strong capital plan
finance director has now received inital certification (was not certified at time of review)
has been decreasing financial support from the town, while needs of district have been increasing
same findings presented to School Committee tonight

Sagan: "kind of breathtaking"
"horrible joke about how Mrs. Lincoln liked the set...the building is in good shape"
"it's like the lights are on and no one is home here"
Chester: level 5 is not off the table in my consideration
"incredibly troubling"
on one level a town that sees itself as serving two different population "normal kids and the kids that Southbridge gets"
ELL students in resource rooms, teachers recruiting other students to help them communicate
heard repeatedly "we're on the verge, give us more time"
"eleven years after this district was initially identified" state support
district that just isn't coming together

Willyard: city council sent a letter of no confidence to the school committee
did they act on it? any changes that they made that were acting on?
DESE: has been turnover on School Committee since that letter
in terms of interventions and what has been suggested by the department
"all the planning that can be done...is not possible to be carried out effectively without stable leadership in place"
Willyard: if they can't find stable leadership. Level 5 would possibly provide that
Chester: what will it take to provide Southbridge students with a better opportunity
"deeply concerning"
Sagan: offers possibility of trip to Southbridge
Stewart would like to hear from MASBO, MASS, MASC about support
Chester: could ask
Chester: and you're offering the possibility that we could hold the necessary hearing that Monday night in January

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