Thursday, February 28, 2013

Middle school after-school activities

Monfredo: "we need to seriously look to expand clubs and intraschool sports at the middle schools"
look for opportunities for students to get involved
Biancheria notes that there are similar items in TLSS: asks that this subcom take these items up in March
Boone: Title IX survey included middle school students; initial set of recommendations
strategic plan for athletic involvement: more students eligible and able to try out for varsity at the high school level
Report of the Superintendent is the Worcester Educational Development Foundation next week, reporting on their strategic focus, which includes sports

participation of students with disabilities in athletics

O'Connell: from the federal office of Civil Rights
"an advisory guideline, not binding"
comes out of 504 plans
can schools do a bit more for students who have disabilities?
Foley: asks that admin work with Sped-PAC

Sgt. William Soutra, Jr.

Petty notes that Soutra received the Navy Cross, "a living hero"
the teachers he had are still there
"a great person to look up to"
asking that the gymnasium at Columbus Park be named in his honor


and mock trial is on here, too!
"any sufficient student-demonstrated interest in formal debate competition"

O'Connell says "clearly there is interest at Doherty"

Requesting a waiver

O'Connell giving this to admin now in case we have more snow and need to cancel more school
realizes that it is unlikely
Boone runs through the Commissioner refusing to grant waivers over the past few years

We're currently up to only June 21, so we have time left!

Fire Alarm Building

..and the Doherty cross-country course.

Read Across America Day

Instrument lessons

...are available for free during the school day at all Worcester elementary schools except:

  • Chandler Elementary
  • Flagg Street
  • Gates Lane
  • Quinsigamond
  • Union Hill
  • Woodland* 
  • West Tatnuck

*Woodland is working with Neighborhood Strings to get their students lessons

Request for how much it would cost to expand to the remaining seven schools.

Live broadcasts

...can only happen in Room 410 of DAB
Any place else in the district can be taped and rebroadcast
can happen at Worcester Technical High School
costs more to do anywhere else, as there is set up and take down involved
Petty asks how much it costs to do it elsewhere; Allen answers (in essence) that it costs more if the meeting runs over

Constitution day

Colorio concerned about lack of mention of documents: Articles of Confederation, Federalist Papers
Boone: this is an answer to the concern regarding the Constitution, these are not the entire frameworks
Rodrigues: this is how civics and Constitution are being addressed at this point at these levels
O'Connell: program on Constitution Day...September 17
doesn't really square with the curriculum for the grades in which it is addressed
suggests ways in which it could be addressed at various points in the year at various grades

$45,000 allocation

Boone: debate regarding allocation of funds received from Council and City Manager
graduation specialist
work is still what's needed at North
"adjusted position to fall in line with a guidance type position" but no changes in responsibility of position
adjustment results in a shift in salary of that position: $35,000
$10,000 for school safety
Biancheria: "this is important to this school and this community"
passes 6-1, Novick opposed

Principal appointments in the past three years

Biancheria: 18 of 23 have had parents involved (exceptions being Claremont, Sullivan, Burncoat Prep, Union Hill, and Chandler Elementary).
stakeholder groups for the principal vacancies that have already been announced.
"how and why this ended up this situation...nice to have that explanation"
presently have three openings for principals (for next year)
intent to use the stakeholder process for these openings

CORI forms

...asking for the circumstances under which CORIs are denied and the length of time involved

Governance and Employee Issues

WEDF reporting on athletic sponsorships in May

Making WPS the schools of choice: parent survey discussed
asking for a report on changes made due to parent survey responses
request for individual 5th grade open houses for middle school options

remote participation: request to City Manager: the City Manager has declined to allow this
concern that there would be a cost involved

request for a civil service exam: the state no longer has the exams available; they're only doing public safety exams
custodians thus will only be provisional appointed

O'Connell asks why the CM declined to provide for remote participation
makes a motion that the item be sent back to subcommittee to ask the CM for an explanation

Read Across America Day

Monfredo reminds us that tomorrow is "Read Across America" Day
Also the book collection for "Worcester: A City That Reads" begins on Saturday. You can donate books  at locations across the city.

Worcester School Committee meets at 7

..and we're out of exec early, so we'll start on time!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Worcester School Committee meets on Thursday

The Worcester School Committee will have its second February meeting on Thursday at 7 pm at City Hall. You can find the agenda here. 
(And it's a lengthy one; that's what happens when there's an extra week in between meetings!)
Governance and Employee Issues is reporting out from their meeting on Valentine's Day.
Administration is reporting back on:
In other news: we still have $45,000 to allocate from the $500,000 the City Council sent to WPS.
The cross-country course at Newton Hill needs preservation, as the Fire Alarm Building changes hands.
There's a request for a waiver for the 180 day requirement.
Congratulations going to kids who received awards on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and on Valentine's Day. 
A request is coming in that we look at the summer learning collaborative.
There's a suggestion that we celebrate September 2 as "World War II Commemoration Day."
A request that we look at establishing mock trial and debate teams at the secondary level, as well as after school activities at the middle schools.
Mayor Petty is suggesting that we name the gym at Columbus Park School after Sergeant William Benjamin Soutra, Jr.
We need to look at the findings of the Civil Rights Secretary on sports participation and the Title IX finding, also on sports.
We're congratulating on Thomas Greene Award winners!
Mr. O'Connell has filed items regarding both changes to IDEA (on parental consent) and proposed Local Educational Agency Governance, Flexibility, and Efficiency Act.
We're congratulating South High's bowling team.
There's a request coming in for projected changes in principals for next year.
And we're asking how that increased supply budget was spent.

7 pm, City Hall!

Two hour delay

The Worcester Public Schools have a two hour delay this morning. There is no morning preschool.

Monday, February 25, 2013

What would sequestration do to the Worcester Public Schools?

By now, you may have seen the state-by-state breakdown of what sequestration would mean should it kick in on Friday. You can find Massachusetts here.
The best estimates we have are that sequestration would cut the federal education grants by approximately 5.1% on March 1.
The Worcester Public Schools are receiving about $27 million (see page 59 and following in the FY13 budget; sorry, we apparently didn't do the internal links to budget sections this year) this year in the grants that are affected by sequestration. The largest of those grants are (grant allocation starts on page 167 of the budget):
  • Head Start, which for FY13 is funded at $5,766,902, serves 730 preschoolers and their families in Worcester. Head Start, because it is directly funded to us (it doesn't first go through the state), starts a new fiscal year in May. That means that this program would see the earliest cut in WPS, as we would have to come up with the funds to pay five teachers for two months out of FY13 dollars, or cut those teachers.
  • Title I, which for FY13 is funded at $9,984,145, provides services for low income students, In Worcester, we use these funds for whole school programs at schools with large numbers of low income students. If you saw the presentation at our February 7 school committee meeting, you saw how this is being allocated this fiscal year.
  • Title IIA, which for FY13 is funded at $1,730,325, funds "highly qualified teachers." In Worcester, this grant is largely used to fund instructional coaches, who provide on-site professional development for teachers. As we are required to provide professional development for teachers, regardless, any cut from this grant would need to be made up by general fund dollars.
  • Title III, which for FY13 is funded at $1,146,244, is funding for English Language Learners. This funding goes to several different types of support from our kids--who come to us from all over the world--who are learning English. We run after school programs; we have IA's in classrooms to assist with their English acquisition; we give extra professional development for teachers who teach children who are learning English. All of these supports would be imperiled by a cut in this grant.
  • IDEA, which for FY13 is funded at $7,320,000, is a grant for special education. It is another grant which is particularly worrying, because nearly the entire grant funds instructional assistants that are legally required for special education services. Were a 5% cut to hit IDEA, the Worcester Public Schools still need to provide those services, and thus those IA's. We would have to cut elsewhere in the budget to fund those IA positions.
These grants for FY13 total $27 million dollars. A cut of 5% is the equivalent of 23 teachers.

Meira Levenson knocks it out of the park

Please do yourself a favor and read Meira Levenson on the civic empowerment gap:

Unfortunately, many schools, especially those that serve predominantly low-income children of color, model civic disrespect and demand that their students practice submissive obedience rather than empowered engagement. They enact a continuous series of civic microaggressions against their students. These regular but unacknowledged mini-invalidations of children as civic persons worthy of respect are often barely noticeable to their victims—and usually totally invisible to their perpetrators.

Speaking of CREDO's charter study

...please be sure that you read Bruce Baker's "what it really means" post, before the study hits the local papers. You know the Globe, the T&G, et al, will vastly oversimply this, so be prepared!

"Zero-based" testing

In response to Superintendent Joshua Starr's call for a moratorium on standardized testing, Andrew Rotherdam suggests a "zero-based" testing approach:
 Kids do take a lot of tests, and the lion’s share are not federally required or go beyond the federal minimum.  They’re state and local assessments as well as teacher created ones, all for different purposes and often of varying quality.  They’re time consuming and they’re often not aligned, not especially useful for teachers, and in some cases persist just because of inertia.  Rather than a testing moratorium, which as Amundson discusses has some substantive problems, how about the testing equivalent of zero-based budgeting? Take a look at every test a kid sees over the course of the school year, and decide what can/should go.
 Rotherdam's tone is a bit obnoxious: "some of this is just local political positioning by Starr"...uh, no, Starr's been consistent in this being a priority for him. Some people do have actual standards, believe it or not, some which are not yours, Mr. Rotherdam. And his commenter points out a growing problem; we now have teachers who have never taught in a system that doesn't test every few weeks, and they need some training and support to adjust to actual full-time teaching. 
I do think that this is something we can overcome, but we need to recognize it as a problem first. I'm also not sure that a true "zero-based" consideration can be a starting point. Prying some of these tests away from their advocates would be very, very hard.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Someone please fetch a fainting couch

...for the editorial board for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, as they appear to have had an attack of the vapors in this morning's paper.
You see, Commissioner Chester had the temerity, the unmitigated gall, to fail to recommend the SABIS charter school application for Brockton to the Massachusetts Board of Education.
Yes, this would be the same Brockton that has received national praise for what a great school it is. The same Brockton that got to that place because teachers took the lead in making changes at their public, unionized, school. The same Brockton that saw citizens turn out for a public hearing to make it clear that they did not want or need a charter school.
Yes, that Brockton.
Frankly, the only things that are "worn out" are the claims that "unlimited competition and choice" does anything to help students (note that SABIS horribly underserves ELL students in, for example, Springfield) and that districts aren't harmed by charters opening in their communities (guess where those ELL students do go to school? Yes, the public schools that serve everyone).*

We all know the "lift the cap" campaign is on, and clearly the T&G editorial board wishes to be early out of the gate in pushing for it. Casting the new Secretary of Education, Matt Malone, as the villain in this melodrama due to his public opposition to SABIS when he was superintendent of Brockton is also rather rich. There's not a superintendent in Massachusetts that doesn't know precisely what effect a charter school actually has on public education.
One only wishes for an editorial board that had such knowledge.

*Oh, that's worn out, as is the T&G continuing to run these pieces without noting that the writer may have a conflict of interest. Ethics 101, gentlemen: if it affects a family member, you have to disclose it.

Clock is ticking

Just a reminder that sequestration is still due to kick in on March 1, which is the end of next week. While most of the just-under-8% cut will hit us next year, Head Start is funded as we go, which means we'll be losing funding for eight Head Start teachers if that goes through.
That's a lot of our very neediest kids that are going to bear the brunt of this game of chicken they're playing in Washington.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

As of today

The last day of school for the Worcester Public Schools is June 21st.
A Friday. of today.

While we're talking about the State of the Union might go read Alan Simpson on his disappointment in the President's message on education.

In honor of Valentine's Day

Here are some of the 700 valentines submitted to the Worcester Historical Museum for their 35th annual valentine contest, held each year in honor of Worcester resident Esther Howland, creator of the first commercially-produced valentines in America.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Counties rebelling in Maryland

In Maryland, where Race to the Top districts are required to make "student learning" 50% of student evaluation, several districts that refused RTTT funds have had their teacher and principal evaluation methods rejected by the state for not using student test scores as at least 20% of their evaluation methods:

The department earlier this month rejected teacher evaluation proposals from Montgomery, Frederick and seven other counties, but the school systems didn’t receive official specifics on why until late Friday afternoon.
All 24 counties in Maryland had to submit new models for judging teacher performance in response to new state law and federal education reforms, including President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.
Montgomery County Schools officials confirmed receiving details from the state Friday, but it is reviewing the information before making further comment, spokesman Dana Tofig said.
While the state is offering to help, it remains to be seen how the counties will respond to this. We have not yet seen any challenge to states' ability to require particular evaluation methods, though it is several steps away from the historical vesting of this power with the local authority.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union 2013

I find it easier to go through the State of the Union and other such speeches the next day, once I can look at the full text. Here, from the New York Times, is the Pre-K-12 education section of last night's speech:
Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.
Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.
Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job. At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.
We need to give every American student opportunities like this. Four years ago, we started Race to the Top – a competition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year. Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.
First of all, if this all sounded to you an awful lot like Governor Patrick's State of the State address a few weeks back, well, that wasn't just you ("He mentioned that it’s 'our generation’s task' to fix this mess and pushed for early education and some other really familiar sounding proposals. So familiar, in fact, I think the Axelrod/Patrick/White House conference call might have been a really good one this year.") That's pretty disappointing; I'd hope for a broader vision from the federal government. 
Overall, this boils down to preschool, early college high school, and STEM, which makes it largely a retread of what we've been hearing in education for the past few years. 

Now, don't get me wrong: preschool--and frankly, it's about time we came up with something to separate out when we're talking about kids younger than 4--is an important thing to support, and to support much better than we do now. Head Start is the largest and longest running preschool program in the United States and the results are that are pretty amazing. See, for example, the chart Andrew Sullivan posts today on the results at age 27. The rest of what you'll see up there (and elsewhere) is the "but the results fade out after third grade." However, it is the test score results that fade out after third grade, and I sure hope that we're doing a lot more in this country than raising standardized test scores.
I hope.
I think there's a couple of things that the President missed here (yes, realizing that he did have to cover the entire country in the limited time available). Anything that looks like universal preschool leaves out those that choose or wish to choose to have their young children spend time at home. It may be home with a parent; it may be the home of a grandparent. This may be a minority--it may even be a somewhat silent one--but we make a mistake if we leave it out. We also make a mistake if we assume that it only follows the "mom's home; dad's at work" pattern. We have a number of cultures across the country who would rather have a child with Gramma, whatever her level of education, than in any sort of preschool.
That's why I wish here, much like with Race to the Top, that instead of going for a competitive and institutional answer, he'd gone for a coordinated and community one. For someone who spoke at such length about Harlem Children's Zone, he didn't follow up. Yet the parts of that model that were new (not the ducking out of the public school system with charters)--talking to parents about talking to their babies, getting not to kids but to families very young--are tackling the so-called achievement gap where it actually starts, and doing so in a way that isn't isolating the kids, but is bringing the entire community along. 
Diane Ravitch hits my part of my concern on the early college high school; we say kids need more education, and then we say we should follow the example of a country with a lower college graduation rate? The other piece of my concern is based on what we've seen here in Worcester; if those programs are competitive in any way, we'll end up with the brightest kids in them, not those who actually could benefit most from the program. That's a mistake, and it's one that will make both halves of the problem worse.
On STEM: what can I say? It's hip now. It was after Sputnik, too. At some point, I hope we'll remember why we thought we ought to be teaching literature and history and the social sciences.
I hope. 

Management/ Union relations in Rhode Island

...or lack thereof.
I'd missed until today this letter from Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist to state school districts:

PROVIDENCE -- In a harshly worded letter, Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist has alerted Rhode Island's school superintendents that she will take severe action against any district that is using seniority, job fairs or bumping to assign, keep or lay off teachers.
In a four-page letter dated Jan. 31 and released late Friday, Gist threatens to impose sanctions "up to and including loss of certification;" taking districts to court; or withholding state education aid unless they comply with her interpretation of a key education regulation called the Basic Education Program.
(h/t Edushyster)
This is of course part of Rhode Island's compliance with the conditions under which it received Race to the Top funding. It isn't supposed to supplant labor law; such changes are supposed to be negotiated. T
he state was lauded last week by Secretary Duncan as being among a few states making great progress in their compliance to Race to the Top's requirements...
...while test scores, that by which such progress is generally recognized, show "scant improvement" for the second year in a row.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Yes, we are open tomorrow

From WPS administration:
Today’s cancellation because of slippery road conditions allowed schools extra time to clear parking lots and walkways around the school.

As we return to school, and for the next several weeks until there is significant melting, we ask parents for a little patience as bus travel may be slowed in areas of narrow streets. We also ask parents to remind children to be extra cautious on any street where snow piles force them to walk on the street. There are areas throughout the city, particularly at street corners, where it may be difficult for drivers to see students crossing the street.

We are eager to get back to school but want everyone to use extreme caution while getting themselves to and from the schools

Joint meeting CANCELLED

Note that tonight's Joint meeting of Education (Council) and Finance & Operations is cancelled

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday evening update from City Manager O'Brien

Can be found here:

No school tomorrow, plow operations ongoing citywide. Please get your sidewalks clear but STAY SAFE! Hospitals are reporting increased numbers of injuries from shoveling.

No school Monday

There will be no school for the Worcester Public Schools on Monday, February 11. Full message from Mr. Allen:

WPS Facilities crews did an excellent job today getting schools ready for return to normal operations. All school parking lots and entry ways are expected to be completed tonight.
However, due to the condition of many streets and the forecast of wintry mix in the morning, we do not want to put children on streets when they are slippery and hazardous. For that reason, we have decided to cancel school for tomorrow. DAB and administrative offices will be open.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday afternoon update from City Manager O'Brien

You can find the full update here. Of note:

City crews have been working around the clock to keep area roads and intersections safe, open and passable. The Department of Public Works and Parks will cease snow removal operations tonight in order to allow City and private company personnel to rest after nearly 36-hours of effort.  Full scale snow removal “clean-up” operations will re-commence first thing Sunday, February 10, 2013. This will include scraping, widening, and clearing corners of all roads and intersections.  Sanding and salting operations will commence upon completion of snow removal. It is highly likely that private driveways and parking lot entrances opened and cleared today could have snow pushed back into these areas as our clean-up efforts continue. This is a multi-phased operation which will likely take well into the new week to complete. The public is asked for its patience.

Afternoon update from Superintendent Boone

We have just received the following update from Superintendent Boone. Note the closing regarding call of school on Monday:
Our facilities and operations staff have been working throughout the night to keep up, as much as practical, over night. We had crews out starting at 4:00 pm yesterday doing early plowing. As conditions worsened, crews were conducting plowing to allow emergency access to buildings.
Plowing operations have been initiated as of noon today. However, just like us, leaving home for custodians is a challenge. Additionally, crews that have been working these hours will be sent home soon to rest and return tomorrow.
At this time, we are not aware of any power issues at any of our facilities. We will have better information after a conference call with National Grid later today.
DAB will be open tomorrow as our Storm Recovery Command Center to monitor all operations related to cleanup. Additionally, facilities personnel will conduct surveys of the school sites to determine status. Modular unit roofs will also be checked with support from the City's Code Department. Transportation supervisors will also be examining bus routes tomorrow to assist in gathering information to support a decision about school status on Monday.
We are working very closely with the City Manager and the City's Emergency Operations Team through this storm and recovery. We are also participating in joint messaging with the city as to recovery efforts. The City Manager and I have agreed to a 5:00 pm timeframe on Sunday to include information on school status for Monday to be included in a joint message. All joint messages will also be posted on the district's website, Facebook and Twitter. Parents and staff will be contacted as needed via Connect Ed. That timeframe allows us the rest of today and all of tomorrow to conduct cleanup efforts, along with the city, and to assess our progress toward resuming normal school operations.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Early Friday afternoon update from City Manager

We've just received an email from City Manager O'Brien, which includes the following information:

City Hall is closed as of 12:00 PM today due to the predicted severity of storm throughout the afternoon and early evening.  Per my advisory, our Emergency Operations Center is open, fully staffed and operational and will be throughout the storm and through until tomorrow.  As also noted in advisory, the City's Customer Service Center is open and will be throughout the storm and through until tomorrow 508-929-1300WRTA has decided to cease operations as of 1:00 PM today - Friday, February 8, 2013 through tomorrow, Saturday, February 9, 2013.  It will resume normal service on Sunday, February 10, 2013We have taken the steps to establish an emergency shelter and to engage our shelter-provision partners such as the Red Cross.  Additional details to follow on the status and location of this operation.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

To consider an additional appropriation

Boone: not one time funds, will carry over into coming fiscal year
challenge of allocation and what we do with it
issues and needs
went back to $5 million request for additional appropriation; how close we had gotten to those goals
have included only a few personnel items
for filling a position, would be close to the end of the fiscal year
instructional materials, teacher training,
free up that money for next year
different make-up for next fiscal year as a result
able to use them in the four remaining months of this fiscal year
address past and current needs
adjustment to NSS line item
parking lot lease: issues around Gates Lane School ; large school on a small footprint
city has asked us to address the parking issue

Charter school facilities

The report is here.
"take that spark and made it a fire"
concern around students on waiting lists
The correction is here.
"To be ready

requesting a report on wraparound coordinators

Biancheria: "I'm not quite sure the justification of those positions and the funding that is going into those positions"
limited piece
Boone: report of the superintendent in April on this
Needs are very different, connections between families

Sorry, missed this: MASC motion passes

The motion supporting MASC's position regarding an assault weapons ban and so forth passes, 4-2, Colorio and O'Connell in opposition

elevated bus routes

Biancheria: "the same ice in the morning, consistent with the same streets"
perhaps administration could work diligently with our DPW
"this is not by school...streets throughout our city that are hills...some other types of routes"
Boone: do work very closely with DPW
talk with them about particular areas: mention of City View
"great working relationship with them...will respond and are responsive"
Colorio: "kids trapped in the bus for hours"
fear in the parents
"Connect-ED to parents" when they have kids on a bus

requesting an update on the Worcester Public Library parking lot

concern from O'Connell on community access to this educational resource
"at least we ask to be part of the discussion"

Out of School Suspension

Monfredo: high rate of suspensions, particularly in our Latino population
Boone: annual provide suspension report information, better alignment of appropriate
data quality issues in ACLU report
federal court injunction: processes for discipline
disproportionate discipline issues

Work Plus

Biancheria rises to express concern about the decline in enrollment.
Boone: "not been a loss of interest" but there has been a loss of positions

Raising a Reader

a RTTT Early Childhood grant for $50,000: about $21,000 going to a consultant, who will be training not only our Head Start teachers but working directly with parents on (as it says) raising a reader. About $16,000 is going to bags of books that will go home with children where parents can read to them, and then the books will come back and be switched around.


TLSS standing committee reports

which I've already blogged about...reporting out tonight
Here's the report from the meeting on January 22
Here's the report from the meeting on January 31

Title I update

Boone: the federal government allowed states to apply for a waiver to the current NCLB requirements
flexibilities in how we operate
Massachusetts received a wavier
flexibility in how we provide supplemental services to students
NCLB restricted how those funds were used
direction to student needs, not just compliance
backup is here
Rodrigues: with greater flexibility, comes greater accountability
now have to measure the impact on student achievement
committee to explore best practices: principals, teachers, administrators
possible interventions: could be in school time, as well as outside of school, after, vacations

  • computerized math programs
  • literacy programs
  • ELA tutors
  • math tutors
  • after school programs
  • Saturday and vacation programs
needs assessment for their particular schools
use of early warning indicators as well as data
workshop with principals and coaches: needs assessment, interventions needed, family engagement, process for monitoring and evaluating
17 schools now receiving interventions
expect that we will have greater outcomes

No school in Worcester on Friday.

Press release from the superintendent here:

Decision later this afternoon

The T&G has this from Superintendent Boone:
She is meeting with other officials to discuss safety and facility concerns. A decision on whether school will be canceled for tomorrow is expected later this afternoon, she said.
The first places to find it will be the WPS Twitter feed, Facebook page, and website.
And remember: if you text "follow @worcesterpublic" to 40404, you'll get all WPS tweets as text messages, which will give you delays and cancellations as soon as they are posted.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Phrase of the day

"subject to School Committee allocation"
You might not get this from the press coverage, but the memo from Superintendent Boone to City Manager O'Brien is a set of recommendations to the School Committee. It doesn't happen until it's passed by School Committee; that's not just pro forma, either, as the Committee has been known to make changes.
Also, as I added in my notes last night: it is the City, not the Schools, that build schools. They run the show when it comes to things including the size of parking lots.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Informational on net school spending: here's the discussion

Here's the discussion on the recommended allocation of the $500,000 transfer
O'Brien: leadership working with the manager and the school department, to address the capital needs of our schools
Thanks the Manager "to leverage out a few more dollars"
Councilors, textbooks and instructional materials,
"making progress towards that gap...a little behind but we're catching up"
"continue to work operational plan that we all can get behind"
Economou: echo same sentiments, Say thank you
"step in the right direction"
Eddy: "indeed a step in the right direction"
Manager "has worked tirelessly with the superintendent"
parking lot lease in Webster Square (murmurs from Lukes)
Long been aware of the issue on Holland Road, Monticello, Wentworth, "held hostage in their homes"
"at some point...thank Tom Zidelis...far too many man hours working with Brian Allen in the school department for a solution on this...expensive bandaid...speaks to...public schools have to take... responsibilities of the public schools fall beyond the walls of the schools...being a good neighbor...cannot build schools that do not have parking"
(I should perhaps point out that the City, not the schools, build schools)
Urges Mayor to bring back to schools...going on far too long
look at field behind school (which is a park)
held it waiting for a permanent solution
motion to no parking on Holland Road during school days: need to have a public hearing, says mayor
O'Brien thinks there has been a hearing
Eddy pulls motion, sends to committee
Toomey: look back at orders not completed on this, all addressed at same time
Russell: question to administration
annual salary or half the year?
The answer is half the year, but no one knows. 

sorry, no idea what Palmieri said
CM O'Brien: amazing learning environment
buffered against our fiscal condition
that's why the move was conservative to put those dollars into contingency
Mayor has a style that I respect greatly
how we can structure these dollars
wasn't a week that went by when it wasn't an agenda item

Lukes: going back to parking lot lease
and then to initial reference to the item
"if parking lots qualify for net school spending, I'd be shocked"
how many schools are going to want the same?
footprint larger for same number of students, losing parking as a result
"this issue is one that's going to plague us with any new school"
people in that neighborhood want the school built in the same location
"for that half hour at each end of the day, it's like the end of the world"
"I would suggest that we find other solutions to this problem"

O'Brien: sure that this does not set a precedent, as there are others

Economou: in light of tonight's discussion: February 25 at 5 pm, Holland Road before Traffic and Parking

Petty: no real short term solution to parking problem
thanks Allen and Zidelis for working to fix the problem

Operational transfers

$500,000 to WPS
Passes unanimously.

at Council

Here at City Council to see the finance items go through. This reminds me that I have not yet officially welcomed to blogging Worcester City Councilor Joe O'Brien. Thrilled to no longer be the only blogging elected official in Worcester!

Worcester School Committee meets on Thursday

There is a regular meeting of the Worcester School Committee on Thursday at City Hall. You can find the agenda here.
After a few congratulations (way to go, Ogretta! Nice job, Midland!), the report of the superintendent this week is on the reworking of Title I funding due to the NCLB waiver. The federal government couched this as increased flexibility in the uses of Title I funding, but it appears to largely mean a shifting of such resources to remedial MCAS prep. Worth paying attention to.
We have not one, but two TLSS meetings reporting out this week (and the last one was cut short, so we'll be having another one soon!).
A list of appointments and retirements coming through from administration.
Per Ms. Biancheria's request, we have the full list of vendor contracts.
We have a report coming back on full day preschool naps.
Here's the list of Work Plus participation.
The WEDF mini-grant winners are announced here.
We're asking that we be updated on any changes with parking at the Worcester Public Library, that we talk administrative grant charges with the city, that we discuss our out-of-school suspension policy, that we consider MASC's petition to Congress on weapons, that we be updated on wraparound services, and that we look at bus routes in higher elevations.
We're also being asked to accept a $64,995 grant for North for science equipment, a $500 donation to Clark Street School, and a $50,000 grant for Early Elementary (as part of RTTT; we just got this, so I haven't gone through it yet).
We also have a few prior year invoices to vote through.
And, should the Council vote favorably tonight, we will have $500,000 to allocate for FY13.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Recommendations for additional City Council allocation

We've just this afternoon received this memo from Superintendent Boone to City Manager O'Brien, outlining her recommendations for the additional $500,000 he tomorrow night is recommending that the City Council allocate to the Worcester Public Schools.
Details after the jump; reserving judgment on this, because we just got it. I welcome your thoughts.

Texas funding found unconstitutional

Literally getting this straight from the courtroom--follow John Kuhn and the Equity Center for this--but the Texas school financing system has just been found unconstitutional.
More to come!

Just a reminder you read local coverage, the charge of the exam/IB committee is:

  • an analysis of potential risks and benefits of such a school
  • a recommendation for a school focus
  • a recommendation regarding the International Baccalaureate program
  • recommended criteria useful for identifying students for admission
  • recommended enrollment
  • projected cost
emphasis added
We have not been charged with making a recommendation on an exam school, as a decision on the creation of a new school properly rests with the Worcester School Committee. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Major transfer on Tuesday's agenda

Major transfer of funds being recommended by City Manager O'Brien on Tuesday's City Council agenda:

Recommend that Five Hundred Thousand Dollars And No Cents ($500,000.00) be transferred from Account #900-92000, City Manager's Contingency, to Account #500-92000, Worcester Public Schools to increase school spending in areas that will be recognized as part of Net School Spending by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

And the backup letter has the numbers right. More to come!