Monday, June 3, 2019

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday: BUDGET TIME!

The Worcester School Committee meets on Thursday this week: NOTE THAT THE BUDGET SECTION STARTS AT 4 PM!
And yes, there's a budget post coming next.

The executive session for a single grievance is scheduled for 6; the regular session is scheduled for 7.

Let me start by highlighting three things on here that I think are of general interest:
  • the administration is recommending the hiring pro bono save expenses (which makes me a little nervous) Michael P. Angelini and others at Bowditch and Dewey for a lawsuit against the state on the Foundation budget.  
  • the Chief Diversity Officer position was held from the prior meeting due, it seemed, to dissatisfaction with the job description, as I described here; note further that it also requires building administrator experience, which is not all that relevant. The position description posted for this week's meeting is the same. Further, the item is phrased "for informational purposes," which is something I would hope the School Committee rejects. It is a new position; it requires School Committee approval.
  • Mayor Petty has the following item:  
  • Request that the Administration invite representatives from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Center for District Support to make a presentation on the district’s accountability and disciplinary data.
    This is a natural reaction to the superintendent's ongoing claims about what "DESE says." Naturally, one wonders, what does DESE say? This would clear that up nicely.
    Let's be clear: either Superintendent Binienda embraces this, as what she's been saying will be backed up, or she rejects it, the opposite conclusion.

    I see this of a piece with the Mayor's item following this, in which he asks for all communication that the district has with DESE be sent also to the School Committee. While I hesitate to call anything impossible, do know that districts have ongoing daily communication with DESE, some of which is done automatically through data systems; this isn't about cc'ing the School Committee in on a few emails. Narrowing the scope of this to items of concern (which is too vague...let me think about that some more) such that the School Committee is getting things that are flagged would make this possible and perhaps even useful.
    Of course, starting with the actual accountability data from the fall by itself would be a good start.
Okay, the rest of the agenda: along with the usual rounds of recognitions and thanks, there is no report of the Superintendent.
There are two subcommittees reporting out: Governance, which it appears was entirely about the procedure for homeschooling, and Finance and Operations, which included the annual audits and the third quarter report. Never take for granted a solid audit, which these are.
There are some resignations and appointments.
There is a report on the One City, One Library system which disappointingly opens by focusing on third grade reading scores as a goal, but has some good thinking on challenges and what might be good to work on.  
There is a response to a request for information on immunizations. 
The School Committee will get a presentation from Tobacco Free Massachusetts in the fall.
The overdue update on due process in the handbook is on the agenda.
Flagg Street parents want a pathway to the school from St. Paul Drive; one should note that there are many, many schools in the city that would benefit from such connections
There's the annual "we're going to need to close the fiscal year" item.
There is a request for reception of a summer learning grant ($43,620) for Worcester East Middle.
Mr. Monfredo wants to add broadcast journalism or video production (perhaps one could point to the media arts program at Burncoat?).
There is a request to consider the siting of a new Doherty (not suprising but also not entirely under school committee purview).
And City Solicitor David Moore has reviewed the Open Meeting Law complaint dealing with Mr. Monfredo's collecting of signatures for an advertisement supporting an extension of Superintendent Binienda's contract and does not believe the Committee to be in violation. 

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