Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New posting of executive sessions

If you are a School Committee or public meeting observer, you will note a new specificity in our posting of our executive sessions. Here is next week's:

This is entirely thanks to Dr. Friel, who went to the Open Meeting Law training here in Worcester last month, asked lots of questions, and brought back the changes needed to keep us in line with the law. 
Good news for public transparency! 

Tickets for state football championship on sale Monday

Starting Monday, tickets for the state football championship will be available through Ticketmaster. Tickets are $14/students (& senior citizens) and $17/adults. 

Doherty plays at 11 am on December 7 at Gillette Stadium. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

State Education Budget hearings announced

Monday, December 2rd, 4:00-6:00pm
Somerset Berkley Regional High School Auditorium
625 County Street
Somerset, MA 02726

Tuesday, December 10th, 5:00 – 7:00pm
Orchard Gardens K-8 School Auditorium
906 Albany Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Information here. 
If you feel, as I do, that Somerset and Roxbury don't exactly cover the state, you might send along an email...

That wasn't the meeting I thought I was at!

The national press has had about a week to get the word of the decision made by our Board of Ed here in Massachusetts regarding the new PARCC exam. Locally, it was mostly taken as another step in a phased-in approach to the switch.
Nationally...not so much. 
I was going to ignore this national spin when I saw it only from the (conservative) Heritage Foundation blog, figuring it was coming only from one particular place on the political spectrum. But today Valerie Strauss (who covers education for the Washington Post online) has a similar take: that is is a delay, a crack, a lessening of support for the Common Core and for the new exam. It's also being read that way in Florida, which is in the midst of deciding its own testing future.
Now, there's always wheels within wheels, and I think those of feel that Chester's being pressured on keeping the MCAS are right. But if you go back and look at what the Board of Ed thought it was doing--or at least said it was doing--last Tuesday, I don't think anyone there saw this as any sort of backing away from the Common Core or PARCC.

Teaching, Learning,and Student Supports meets tonight!

sorry for the late notice on this one!
TLSS meets tonight at 5:30. You can find the agenda here.

There will be an update on service learning; an update on the curriculum review; a review of the absentee awareness campaign; a report on the use of science kits; and a report on the alternative placement programs.

I won't be there, so no liveblog, but do remember you can watch on Channel 11.

Sometimes the question is wrong

The first year that I was teaching (in my own classroom, full time), early in the year I gave a test that nearly every kid in the class failed.
Reeling from paper after paper that had most answers wrong, I took the stack of papers to my mentor teacher (who'd been teaching for thirty years) and I asked her what I should do.
"Tracy, did they know the material?" she asked.
"Well, I thought so," I told her. "They had it when we went through it in class."
"Then maybe it's the test."

ah....maybe it's the test.

This came to mind these past weeks over two public tiffs that some of our educational leaders are having with some of the people they are supposed to be serving. 

First, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, speaking to state superintendents, commented:
...he found it "fascinating" that opponents include "white suburban moms who -- all of a sudden -- (discovered that) their child isn't as bright as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."
 You can read more on this here, and Teacher Sabrina has the best response I've read:
Think about that. Rather than listening to what parents want for their children, or considering what the evidence says kids do or don’t need, they’ve decided that they want to pursue a certain course no matter what. And rather than ask themselves whether the backlash they’ve encountered is an indication that they should rethink their position, they have decided to artificially raise the bar for proficiency and hope the score drop changes people’s minds. (That this will require people to doubt the evidence of their own eyes, as well as other tests and indicators they’ve been told to believe in for years, doesn’t seem to trouble them at all.)
...which brings me to the tiff closer to home, where Commissioner Chester commented to the Boston Globe:
  What worries Chester most, however, is that he is starting to hear counterproductive grumbling from school superintendents. They are telling him that requirements to implement new teacher evaluations and incorporate the new Common Core standards are “too much, too soon.”
This brought in this letter from a principal in Acton, as well as this blog post from the superintendent of Hopkinton:
Perhaps, instead, it is time for the Commonwealth to begin to question if the Emperor is wearing any clothes, and if the policies of data-worship and accountability are just another doomed quick fix that will soon be relegated to the scrap heap of history, joining other failed educational policies such as New Math and open classrooms.  While I do welcome many aspects of Massachusetts’ new educator evaluation system including its increased emphasis on accountability, Massachusetts has embraced these notions as the solution to all our ills and has ignored the real issues that contribute to our performance gap –including poverty, hunger, school readiness, and the burdensome weight of hopelessness that these children feel when entering our classrooms.  Holding a teacher from Lawrence individually accountable for their student’s achievement is like holding the little Dutch boy accountable for the flood after the dyke failed.
...which brings me back to my test that first year teaching. As it happens, I was right--my students did know the material, as I had found from class discussion and more informal assessment. When I went back to the test I'd given them, I found that the way I had put the questions had thrown nearly all of them off. 

It wasn't the students: it was the question.*

When we find that the federal Secretary of Education is blaming parents for not knowing their kids and not knowing their neighborhood schools; when the state Commissioner of Education is blaming superintendents for whining about doing their jobs; when, in short, the blame is falling just about anywhere but in the highest reaches of what is supposed to be an accountability system, it's time--past time, I'd say--to start questioning the basis of the system. 
What are we basing our judgments on: what we know of our schools? what we know of our classrooms?
Or of baseless systems of curriculum and assessment pushed for political ends?

Sometimes the question is wrong.

*for those of you wondering: I threw out the test, after talking it over with my students. We cleared up how I'd confused them in the assessment, and they showed me what they really knew and could do in the next one. And I knew better next time.

Congratulations, Doherty Highlanders!

Heading to Gillette Stadium in a few weeks for the state division 4 championships in football!

Ticket information comes out on Wednesday, but the game will be played at 11 am on December 7.

Friday, November 22, 2013

WPS things to do this weekend!

A few things to bring to your attention:
  • the Doherty football team has made the division 4 state playoffs. They play against Wahconah (the Western Mass division champs) at 2 pm tomorrow at Doyle Field in Leominster.
  • Burncoat Middle and High Schools are producing A Christmas Story tonight and tomorrow night at the middle school at 7 pm. Tickets are $5/children and $8/adults. A bit of this was performed at the arts quadrant show last weekend, and it looks like quite an excellent show!
Good luck/break a leg to those involved!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Worcester teacher evaluation data released by school...for what it's worth

[With a bit of editing for clarity]
You can find the Superintendent's press release and the school-by-school data here.You'll note that for schools that had all teachers with the same rating or schools where all but a single teacher had the same rating, the information is redacted.
There's a couple of things that are very weird about this information (beyond the above, which means that entire schools are dropped) and make it less meaningful than it might initially appear.
All teachers are evaluated in four categories: Curriculum, Planning, & Assessment; Teaching All Students; Family and Community Engagement; and Professional Culture. In each of those categories, the teacher has goals, and on those, each teacher is rated exemplary, proficient, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory.*
But--and here's the thing--not every teacher has the same goal. So while Teacher A is working on this particular thing, Teacher B is working on something else, but BOTH under something in Professional Culture (for example). Those are not the same goals. Each teacher has at least two goals, and then has the four categories.
Plus each teacher is actually getting six [correction] marks, not one, and in four categories plus two goals, not one.
Then all of those were put together for each school.
Thus, all of this doesn't really tell you much about the schools or the teachers in the school. It makes for some simplistic "look, lots of teacher are proficient" or "gosh, everyone must have the same mark at that school" level of notice. It doesn't give you much useful information on the teachers in a school, though.
No, for that, you are still going to actually go see the teachers and visit the school.

*(for more on this see here; note that those are state's regs and guidelines. Each district has negotiated this with their own unions, so implementation varies a bit across the state.)

donations, donations

Lots of approvals here tonight:
  • To set a date to recognize, with gratitude and appreciation, the donation of $100,000 by the Alden Trust to the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, to fund field trips for Worcester students to key cultural/educational institutions of Central Massachusetts, and the support of the Durham Bus Company to help to make these trips feasible.
  • To accept a donation in the amount of $500.00 made payable to Lincoln Street School.
  • To accept a donation in the amount of $25,000.00 made payable to Union Hill School from the Lanza Family Foundation for school field trips.
  • To accept a donation in the amount of $5,000.00 presented to Dr. Sheila Harrity from MetLife/NASSP National High School Principal of the Year.
  • To accept a donation in the amount of $13,000.00 from Millbury Savings Bank to the Worcester Public Schools representing the fourth installment toward Millbury Savings Bank’s five-year commitment to Quinsigamond and Vernon Hill schools.

Teaching, Learning, and Student Support

report is here


Ms. Biancheria reading the report of Accountability
with items on PARCC and on student privacy

Exit plan for Union Hill; Renewal plan for Chandler Elementary

Boone: Union Hill need to assure continuing progress
Chandler Elementary: review turnaround plan, so close that we need only renew plan

"A Christmas Story" starts tonight!

Burncoat Middle and High present "A Christmas Story" tonight, Friday, and Saturday at 7 pm at the Friel Auditorium in the middle school. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children. 

I saw a snippet of this last week and it looks great! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Worcester School Committee meets on Thursday

This time for sure!
We've got the entirety of the agenda from the meeting that was scheduled for November 7, with a few new items. You can find the agenda here. 
The report of the superintendent this week is on getting Union Hill out of Level 4 status and continuing with Chandler Elementary in Level 4 status. You might recall that the funding for those plans is now gone. We have three annexes on that; you can find the links on the agenda.
We have both Accountability and TLSS subcommittees reporting back.
Staffing changes are still coming through.
Mr. O'Connell is asking for some clarity on the mailing of BMI letters.
As mentioned by the T&G today, we have several donations to accept or honor, including two for field trips!
We have our quarterly report coming back from the Central Mass Regional Collaborative.
We have a prior year payment of $490 to pass.
We have two items from Ms. Colorio regarding the new PARCC test: one regarding adaptations for special education students; the other pointing out (as did the MASC amendment) that this is an unfunded mandate and asking that this be rectified.
And finally, thanks to those who got the students at South High involved in Memphis. 

Spirit of Knowledge

And today the Board of Ed accepted the surrender of Spirit of Knowledge's charter. 

Heads up crew! Bad idea alert!

An idea being floated by Jeff Nelhaus that would tie increases in Ch. 70 to accountability levels, with greater flexibility going to districts that have higher accountability levels.
And the bad ideas just keep coming...

Chester, then Board of Ed on PARCC

In her review of last night, Board Chair commented that "it's no longer multiple choice; it's selective response."
"it's time to upgrade...learning more and more on learning progression and what people expect of learning opportunities"

The importance of outside of school in Lawrence

Excellent point that I am pleased to hear from the state receiver in Lawrence today:

A few notes from the Board of Ed

Largely taken from Commissioner Chester's remarks this morning

  • Chester announces that their deputy commissioner Cliff Chuang is leading a close look at charter schools and how (and to what extent) they serve subgroups (special ed, ELL students), how they handle exclusion (aka: suspensions and expulsions), and enrollment issues. 
  • Chester commenting that "teacher leaders" (I never know quite what that means; I assume he would say 'unions' if he meant 'unions,' though I suppose not all states have them) have approached DoE on MA's system of teacher evaluation. Comment that more left in hands of evaluators rather than dependent on percentage by test score."to work together, to have common goals, to focus on growth and development"..."recognize that it's not an easy lift"   Voting next month on a DELAY on including student piece in evaluation of up to three years
  • DART: following students after graduation. 40% of students in higher ed campuses will be placed in at least one remedial course.
  • remarks from Secretary Malone for the work that the professionals out in the field are doing; "this is hard work"
  • Testimony before the Board of Ed on PARCC

    Good morning. My name is Tracy O’Connell Novick, and I am a member of the Worcester School Committee. I also serve as Vice Chair of the Urban division of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.
    I come to you this morning, first of all, with some questions:

    Have you sent in your nomination for the Thomas S. Green Public Service Award?

    Nominations are due November 26!

    • Municipal employees in Worcester County
    • Exceptional competence and efficient handling of all assigned responsibilities.
    • Willing performance of tasks above and beyond the call of duty.
    • Friendly, helpful, and cooperative attitude toward the public and fellow employees.
    • Important, but not required, volunteer community service outside the scope of job-related responsibilities.   
    I have it on good authority that they NEVER get enough teachers nominated, so if your child, or you, have had a GREAT Worcester Public School teacher, please nominate them!
    You can find more information, including the forms, here. 

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Former Secretary Reville speaking at the Worcester Educational Collaborative

    "this room is living testimony to the value of persistence"
    "the miracles that we ask schools to work with children every day"
    "seems to me that...they're the same issues that we talked about thirty years ago...the jobs that we ask schools to do is too big for schools to's about partnerships"

    PARCC before the Board of Ed tomorrow

    Tomorrow the Massachusetts Board of Education votes on what Commissioner Chester is calling a two year "tryout" of the PARCC test. That would be pilot testing in selected schools across Massachusetts this year--with an opting out of MCAS for those pupils at the discretion of the district--followed by half of schools taking PARCC and half of schools taking MCAS next year--with the choice, we are told, made by the district--followed by a vote on which test to use thereafter by the Board of Ed following the return of all scores.
    With me so far?
    This means, as reported in today's paper, that students in Worcester who are scheduled to pilot PARCC will be double-tested, as the administration has decided--with, I will say bluntly, no consultation with anyone outside of administration--to continue the MCAS with those students as well. As I mentioned in the article, parents in Worcester do have the option of availing themselves of the new WPS policy allowing parental opting out of non-state mandated testing. My husband and I certainly plan to.
    For now, though, the major decision rests in Malden tomorrow, where I will be among those testifying regarding the board's decision. It was clear to me last weekend at the joint School Committees and Superintendents conference that concern about this is widely held across the state. We have heard repeatedly, however, that it is not being heard by the Board. Thus, if you have strong feelings on this, I would urge you to contact the Board of Ed today.

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Student voice: "Haven't we gone too far with data?"

    ...from Tennessee. In case you haven't seen it yet.

    "If everything I've learned in high school is quantifiable, I haven't learned anything."

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    presentation on MCAS by Maureen Kavanaugh

    While Ms. Kavanaugh's presentation is not currently up online, she said she'd put it there. Once she does, I will link to it.
    ...who starts with what MCAS is and where it came from (or at least its intent)
    individual student reports include performance on individual items, score overall, and score level

    Notice of Intent to Apply for a Waiver

    The state intents to apply for a waiver on certain federal testing requirements connected to PARCC. You can read the details here.
    And it's open for comment now.

    Music Lesson sign-ups!

    The form is edited and back up!
    Free small-group music lessons for Worcester Public Schools students in grades 4-12 who do not have lessons during the school day!

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Quarterly budget transfers

    Consalvo: 17% expended or committed
    all new FY14 positions either filled or long term sub
    projected balance in custodian account: vacancy of second shift custodial supervisor, as well as others
    clerical overtime: training for new SAGE
    one additional wheelchair bus added
    projected balance in health insurance: actual increase did not reflect city projections
    personal services: special education, and legal counsel (collective bargaining now ongoing)
    being paid for electronical recycling
    no transfers recommended at this time

    Allen: projects an almost $400,000 deficit
    expect adjustments in second quarter
    suggest Spirit of Knowledge closure funds may mitigate
    making sure students are appropriately classified as they enter

    Changes from June: special education services: in district autistic services...fully growth in number of students, was not expected (also some unanticipated out of district placements)
    nurses: showing a deficit: working with their staff to appropriately cover
    workers compensation "something we really need to think align that closer to what expenses are"

    Foley: custodial overtime balances vacancy
    demand for nursing rising
    special education: managing those dollars
    seeing an increase in workers' compensation: ask for an analysis. Requiring physicals pre-employment?

    Novick: did not increase number of nursing substitutes when we increase number of nurses? No.
    support realistic funding level of workers' compensation
    query on utilities: increase of 40% in energy management services: even with rebid of contract
    Allen: recommendation coming back from administration for FY15 on perhaps bringing this back in house

    year end FY13

    Foley comments that we finished the year with $.76 (that's on a budget of $285,570,702)
    Ideal is to spend all of the money allocated for education, as anything left goes to free cash
    "phenomenal achievement...all of the dollars we are receiving, we are allocating fully"
    Allen: flexibility given by School Committee allows this to happen
    motion to file, with our compliments

    Back to school forms

    Walton: schools contacted for what forms they send home
    two groups of forms: some that are specific to schools individually, which are universal
    sorted out: free/reduced lunch, ER contact form, CORI request form
    CORI requires signature and photo ID, so can't be done online
    emergency contact form: most schools send home a card, information data entered, "if you have multiple students, you're filling out multiple cards...not very efficient"
    possibly switch to online for those possible: make it part of Parent Portal
    Parent Portal taken offline over summer; working on fully implimenting student information system
    free/reduced lunch form: USDA did release some recommendations about electronic collection of this information, now allowed to be collected electronically
    12 districts in MA are now doing this (School Lunch app); some concerns about going to an online form
    parents who have computers and internet connections might fill it out online, but that may not get everyone
    concern about costs
    Novick: not arguing that we need to go all electronic
    what about health forms for nurses? emergency forms repeats some of the same information; can we update that as well?
    also could standardize what we're doing with free and reduced lunch forms? (as what schools require from parents is different)

    Finance and Operations meeting: security cameras

    concern forwarded by Mayor Petty about safety around Jacob Hiatt: security cameras behind building?
    Allen: security around Jacob Hiatt, officer placed there due to camera location
    will evaluate need for officer going forward
    incidents at other buildings; additional cameras at other schools
    School Safety Office
    no incidents since officer in place; 9-4 each day
    officer walks teachers to cars, patrols perimeter, walks students to class at the Y
    survey to all principals: basic security features in their buildings to clarify needs of each building
    cameras at door, intercom system working both ways: majority of schools have that system, a few more to go
    expect that by March,all buildings will
    high risk schools to have more cameras (possibly covered in exec)
    work with city and City Council with regard to issues of students walking to and from schools safely
    security guards at North, South, Sullivan, Tech, Doherty, Creamer (night) and Hiatt
    Foley asks for an update in March

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Please help out Coats for Kids!

    If, like me, tonight's forecast has you digging out boots and mittens, please give a thought to our students who may not be quite so prepared for the winter. Our Coats for Kids effort (run with the Junior League, the Worcester Educational Development Foundation, and WPS Volunteer office) needs your help!
    If you are able, please consider a donation to:
    The Worcester Educational Development Foundation, Inc.
    Attn: Coats for Kids
    210 Park Avenue, Suite 224
    Worcester, MA 01609
    If you have fast-growing kids yourself, or just like shopping for kids, you can get in touch with Paula Harrity at our Volunteer office.  Let her know what you have (so long as it's gently used) or ask for what they need, and she can set you up. Those donations go to the Fanning Building, 24 Chatham Street, Worcester.
    And thank you!

    Meetings this week

    A few meetings of interest this week:
    • There is a meeting of the Finance and Operations subcommittee on Tuesday at noon. You can find the agenda here. In addition to the usual quarterly transfers and finishing up FY13, we've got a bit about completing forms online, security cameras, and OPEB.
    • We have a special meeting of the full committee on Wednesday at 5:30 for training in the new evaluation system. The agenda is here, 'though that's all it says. Note that it (and the meeting above) are at the administration building in the 4th floor conference room.
    • Later that evening, at the usual CPPAC meeting, Maureen Kavanaugh from the our data office is presenting on the MCAS results for the district. Maureen is excellent at what she does and is taking questions, so I'd really recommend coming to this if it is of any interest.That's at the downtown branch of the public library.

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    If you have any interest on the previous

    ..and are free on Wednesday night, you can see much of the presentation that we did yesterday on PARCC at Lesley University:
    Look Before You Leap: A CPS Forum on Ed Reform's Next Wave
    November 13, 7 pm
    Lesley University, 1815 Mass Ave. Cambridge.
     amphitheater – room 2-150
    The forum is organized by state Sen. Pat Jehlen, with support from the
    Cambridge Education Association, Mayor Henrietta Davis, Like Minded
    Parents, and members of the Cambridge legislative delegation.

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Some notes on PARCC (MASC 13) with more to come

    I was part of a panel presenting on the new PARCC assessment this afternoon (specifically, where are we at and what can we do).(UPDATE: which had a brief mention in the Cape Cod Times)
    I do not have the PowerPoint that my fellow panel members presented, but I will get it to post.
    Meanwhile, a few points from me: 
    First of all, all is not lost. Do not despair. The presentation by DESE this morning at the conference was different than the presentation that they made to superintendents late last month, which was different than the one that they made to the Board of Ed last month. They are hearing concerns, and things are fluid. 
    That said, we are hearing that the Board of Ed is NOT hearing the concerns as clearly as the Department. We need to reach them, and we need to reach them fast, as they meet on November 19 to vote on the two year timetable that at least does a one year pilot of PARCC followed by one year of PARCC/MCAS, your choice.

    I urged delegates to be sure to attend the Delegates Assembly and vote in favor of the PARCC resolution (which they did; it passed overwhelmingly). That will now go to the Board of Ed as the expressed view of the Mass Association of School Committees.
    I also urged them to pass resolutions through their own committees, as at least Somerville and Northbridge have done, urging either a pause or a halt to the implementation. Sharing those not only with the Board of Education but also their legislative delegation continues to increase the pressure.

    I urged them to get enough information to make their concerns specific: do they have the technology? What kinds of costs are they going to incure? How many kids are due for double testing in the spring? How valid are the results of this or any such testing going to be? Get those reports as needed from administration (with apologies in advance to superintendents!) and GET THEM PUBLIC.
    All School Committee members have constituent groups with whom they are in contact, whether through email or social media or PTO and community meetings. Be sure your community knows the specifics of your district's concerns around PARCC, and get the community involved in contacting the Board of Ed, the Governor, the Legislature.

    As some have done already, take up the issue of this as an unfunded mandate with the state auditor.


    And finally, whatever happens on the 19, on December 7 at 10 am, DESE is coming out to Worcester Tech to do a presentation to members of School Committees on PARCC. They will have a presentation (possibly a new one) and will be taking questions.
    And don't give up!

    Before you believe any spin on NAEP should (I know, I say this all of the time) go read Bruce Baker.
    And Jim Horn points out that the years previous to NCLB always mysteriously disappear from the fed's charts.
    Also, if anyone from Massachusetts would like to explain how we're going to "solve" the falloff in 4th grade reading scores by adopting the Common Core, as our state officials were saying yesterday, I'm all ears.
    As, however, the state had already decided to adopt the Common Core two years ago, and as adoption is already underway in many districts, and as there wasn't previously much of a problem with  4th grade reading...let's say I'm going to be skeptical.

    MASC 13 : Legislative update

    with Senator Pat Jehlen and Representative Alice Peisch, both members of the Joint Committee on Education
    (both of whom are former school committee members)

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    MASC 13: School Law 101

    on Open Meeting Law, ethics, and public records
    with apologies for the part missed in the middle; I had to take a phone call

    MASC 13: Is it possible to prevent serious school violence?

    Jack Levin, from Northeastern University
    people wanting to feel powerful, because they feel a profound sense of powerlessness

    Should you have heard otherwise

    like, from the Deputy Commissioner of Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...
    Money matters in education.
    I did link to this in my notes below, as well, but I'm putting it here so it's easy to find.

    MASC 13: Chapter 70 aid (20 years in)

    Dave Tobin, MASS School Finance
    Luc Schuster, Deputy Director, Mass Budget and Policy
    Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner of Education

    Wednesday, November 6, 2013

    MASC 13: Advocacy Strategies for School Leaders

    Paul Schlictman, MASC Past President
    advocacy committee through MASC
    multi-layered approach: voters, locally, state, nationally

    CPPAC talks MCAS on November 13

    If you have any interest in the MCAS results for the district, I'd urge you attend. Maureen is great at what she does, and she will be taking questions. 

    Interim principal for City View announced

    This afternoon, we received the following information from Superintendent Boone:
    Effective tomorrow, November 7, 2013, Patricia Murphy Brown will begin serving as interim principal at City View Discovery School.  Ms. Brown is currently assistant principal at Worcester Arts Magnet School.

    MASC 13: OPEB liabilities

    As of 2012, MA state unfunded liability for OPEB was $16.7 billion
    funding available (already set aside) would cover about 1% of liability
    state has about $400M set aside; communities between $50-75M
    GASB: "therefore the cost of these future benefits is a part of the cost of providing public services today"

    No meeting on Thursday

    The School Committee Meeting that was scheduled for Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. has been cancelled.

    You are about to enter...the conference zone!

    Just a word of warning to my regular readers: I'm heading down to Hyannis later today for the annual Massachusetts Association of School Committee conference. I'll be posting my notes from the sessions that I attend.

    In Worcester? Can you take a quick survey on voting?

    Whether you voted yesterday or did not, please take this survey for a research project one of our WPS teachers is doing in pursuit of her Ed.D. She's looking a municipal voting patterns and tying them into elementary school assignments. It's quick and for a good cause!

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Thank you, Worcester!

    To (briefly) let politics intrude for a moment: many thanks to those who voted for me today. Looking forward to another two years!

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Election Day in Worcester!

    It's Election Day in Worcester on Tuesday! Municipal elections are those where each voter has the best chance to make a real difference in a race; they have been know to come down to a handful of votes making the difference. Make sure your vote is cast!
    If you are registered to vote in Worcester but aren't sure where, you can look it up here.

    And P.S.: I heard a rumor that there might be "I Voted" stickers, should that make a difference. 

    WPS After School Music Lessons!

    Just came over the transom!

    The Worcester Public Schools are offering FREE small group music lessons after school on Wednesdays and Fridays. Lessons are a half hour long, and they will take place at Tatnuck Magnet School.
    Parents are responsible for providing transportation, the instrument, and books.
    Note that students who are currently taking lessons in school are not eligible for this program.

    Lessons are available in violin, viola, cello, and saxophone, French horn, flute, trumpet, and clarinet.
    Follow the link for the form to sign up!

    It's not every school during the school day yet, but it's progress!
    EDIT: the WPS link is down for editing; the link above is the original, which I've saved. I'll post the fixed WPS link once it is back online. 

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Spirit of Knowledge update from Superintendent Boone

    We got an update tonight from Superintendent Boone tonight regarding students matriculating from Spirit of Knowledge, which reads in part:
    As of this afternoon, at least 65 families have enrolled their children into one of the WPS.It seems that the enrollment process has gone fairly smoothly...We continue to work very closely with DESE on various operational matters for transition, including how to count new students since they are enrolling beyond the October 1 enrollment reporting date.We will provide a full report to the school committee on the financial changes as a result of the school’s closure once we’ve finalized all details with DESE.
    As the second quarter begins on Monday for Worcester, there is a natural beginning place for students who are entering. Parents began enrolling their children (some parents had more than one student in the school) in WPS as soon as they retrieved their records from Spirit of Knowledge, and, thus far, students seem to be distributed throughout the district (keep in mind that Spirit of Knowledge was grades 7-12, thus middle and high school). District personnel have reviewed all courses being taken by students coming in to best place them in courses in WPS, with special regard for seniors.
    Families are also being invited to an open house early next week, so they can have their questions answered by school and district personnel, and be welcomed to the district.

    A little late on my Halloween post

    h/t the MTA twitter feed for the image