Monday, August 22, 2016

Still wondering in Worcester...

So, after last night's opening of school report (covered by the T&G here), I still have a lot of questions, as someone who is going to be putting three kids on buses in a week. If you do, too, let me know, and I'll add them. I can't promise we'll get any answers, but we can at least get the questions out there.
In no particular order and updating as there are more:
  • Are there enough secondary teachers to teach classes that students have signed up for? In July, the School Committee was told  "there are courses with full enrollment without budgeted teaching slots" as of that time. Have more teachers been hired, and if so, with what funding? If not, what is being done about these students and their courses?

  • Likewise, what's the updated count on elementary classes of sizes over 27? And how many of those are kindergarten classes? And do any of those now lack aides, due to the zeroing out of the kindergarten grant?

  • Has anyone talked further with the city about these gaping holes in the teaching staff, as is being done in other districts across the state

  • This whole thing about a new position

  • The opening of school report talked about a districtwide focus on literacy; what exactly does that mean? Is there a new curriculum? Is there a shift in which standards will be stressed? Are teachers being required to do particular things? What else is going on with this besides a book read?

  • Relatedly, was there any summer work on curriculum in the district? Seriously. 

  • What's going on with the international baccalaureate program? The commitment was made to have that ready to roll out at the end of this year, and there is a staff position which is supposed to be writing up an innovation plan now. Is that still happening? And if not, why not?

  • None of the MSBA summer window projects are completed (so all are going to have to be finished during the school year) come? as work being done during the school year is both more disruptive and more expensive

  • How is the next round of the safety audit being funded and how are the schools being chosen?

  • Given that the additional $250,000 in capital is going to "safety equipment" (which is looking like walkie-talkies and cameras), what are the long-term plans for the increasing number of buses that can't be replaced? And if there are going to be increasingly more buses rented (cough, which doesn't count towards net school spending, cough) out of operational dollars, is there a plan to increase those dollars? And is any of this a long term plan of any kind?

  • How is the district preparing for a test that no one has seen and we don't seem to know much about, other than how much it is costing us

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