Friday, May 29, 2015

Creamer Center graduation now online here:

And for those who like graduation speeches, you can find mine for Creamer about 19 minutes in. Possibly the first one you've ever heard that starts out with the budget. 

and speaking of finance

...and staffing it appropriately, this report from Allentown, PA is petrifying.

"meant to mine votes rather than build acute minds"

Clive on Tuesday's WPS budget hearing:
The strength of the Worcester public schools has been the willingness of public officials to do what was necessary, rather than what was required, to provide young people with the best educational experience.
That willingness seemed to have waned during the past several years, but, notwithstanding Mr. Gaffney’s contrariness, the tone of the overall discussion on Tuesday night suggests that city and school officials are back to playing on that strength.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WPS FY16 public hearing on the budget: UDPATED with slide screenshots

posting as we go (Note that the meeting is now online)
Economou: one of the things I ran on was trying to find a better working relationship between schools and Council
"it's starting to show the fruits of our efforts"
cut in fee on grants from city
"more pro-active working relationship"
"as we do progress forward as a group...a better working relationship between City Hall and here at the School Department"
think foundation budget needs to be changed; "when it came on, it came on outdated"
Foley: two items on the school side
one to consider items of joint interest, but also to consider the city's contribution for FY16 and years following
working relationship: "Great meeting yesterday"
"very positive, very collegial"
"what I heard yesterday was really about one city"
continuing to move the city forward positively
Councilors were talking about the need for students support
later in timeline than in past years
city has approved bottom line; committee has not reviewed ours yet

(Note that you can find Mr. Allen's presentation online here)

Both parts of PARCC to be merged

By the way, the Board of Ed memo from last week about PARCC getting shorter was written ahead of changes going to the Governing Board. They eventually decided to merge BOTH sections of PARCC into a single test session each; the state has updated that information here.

Forest Mondays in kindergarten

Do go read about how this Vermont kindergarten spends their Mondays. Brilliant.

What does Mass General Law say we should be doing on testing?

I'm planning on putting this together at greater length and in greater detail for testimony before the Board of Ed, but Scott O'Connell called yesterday, so here's a start: 

If you read today's T&G article regarding the EAW's vote for a freeze on standardized testing, you may be wondering what I'm talking about here:
 Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connell Novick argues that trend is at odds with the state’s own laws, which prescribe a more broad-based approach to testing.
“That’s my issue – we’re not in line with Massachusetts General Laws, and we’re not going to be with PARCC, either,” she said. 

 Assessment is described in often-referenced (but seldom quoted) M.G.L. chapter 69, section 1l.  It begins the description with this (emphasis throughout is mine):
 With respect to individual schools, the system shall include instruments designed to assess the extent to which schools and districts succeed in improving or fail to improve student performance, as defined by student acquisition of the skills, competencies and knowledge called for by the academic standards and embodied in the curriculum frameworks established by the board pursuant to sections one D and one E in the areas of mathematics, science and technology, history and social science, English, foreign languages and the arts, as well as by other gauges of student learning judged by the board to be relevant and meaningful to students, parents, teachers, administrators, and taxpayers.
Given that MCAS and now PARCC have only ever been in ELA and math, plus science, we already are well off of what is called for. While periodically the Pioneer Institute calls for some sort of MCAS in history, the sort of broad-based assessment envisioned here is not something that has really ever been worked on.

But it gets worse:
The system shall be designed both to measure outcomes and results regarding student performance, and to improve the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction. In its design and application, the system shall strike a balance among considerations of accuracy, fairness, expense and administration.
..debatable, at best
The system shall employ a variety of assessment instruments on either a comprehensive or statistically valid sampling basis.
This in particular has never happened. We have no such variety of assessment instruments. We have this standardized test--acronym whatever it is--which is the single assessment instrument.
Such instruments shall be criterion referenced, assessing whether students are meeting the academic standards described in this chapter. As much as is practicable, especially in the case of students whose performance is difficult to assess using conventional methods, such instruments shall include consideration of work samples, projects and portfolios, and shall facilitate authentic and direct gauges of student performance.
The MCAS-Alt is that which is used "in the case of students whose performance is difficult to assess using conventional methods," and moves towards something close to a portfolio of authentically-assessed work. This, though, is much more of what is laid out here: "as much as is practicable," assessment is to "facilitate authentic and direct gauges of student performance."
The assessment laid out here isn't supposed to take students away from the work they're doing (and tie up computer labs and eliminate recess and gym and interrupt lunch classes); it's supposed to BE the work they're doing!

That isn't PARCC.
That isn't MCAS.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let's hear from you!

Public hearing on the WPS FY16 budget
7 pm
Wednesday, May 27
Durkin Administration Building

Not-at-all liveblog: WPS budget before Council

Taken from my longhand notes, thus quite possibly less detail than usual; the Finance and Operations subcommittee (that's Foley, Ramirez, and me) joined Superintendent Boone and Mr. Allen at the table for questions this year

WPS budget passes Council, 10-1

F&O sat with administration to take questions on the WPS budget today, so I didn't get to liveblog BUT I took lots of notes. To come...
Meantime, know that the WPS budget passes Council on a 10-1 vote, Councilor Gaffney voting against. 
Yes, folks, some still seek the legendary Transportation Savings...

WPS budget before Council (with another round on Net School Spending, unfortunately)

The Worcester Public Schools budget is before the Worcester City Council at 4 pm today. You can find the proposed FY16 city budget here; the WPS budget is pages 187-189 (or 191-193 in the PDF).

Unfortunately, it appears that we're doing another round of playing with the Net School Spending numbers, as the first page of the presentation says:
The amount recommended for non educational expenditure is recommended to be $17,869,016, level funded from the prior year.
This isn't the case.

We've known since we approved the new transportation contract in March that WPS transportation is going up by $1 million next year under our new contract with Durham. This is after WPS administration negotiated the original bid downward significantly. You'll note that we were also told at that meeting that city administration were "aware" of the contract changes, as they would impact FY16.

...which they have.

Now, the claim previously has been that the city grants "an extra amount" of money and the Worcester Public Schools (you can pick: blame adminstration or school committee on this one) "choose" to put it towards transportation.

This is somewhat silly.

The Worcester Public Schools (as regular readers may well be tired of hearing) are funded at or just below the minimum required by the state. At the same time, schools statewide are funded at an average--an AVERAGE--over 19% over for FY15.
That looks like this (I did this quickly: the blue line is the state average and the red line is Worcester):

Why does that matter? Well, for one thing, when we have conversations about why families make choices about where to send their children, you might consider this:

With a budget that is funded at (or just below) minimum, it isn't as though we have funds we could take from somewhere else to fund transportation; even if we do, that just puts us more in the hole, as transportation doesn't count towards the mimimum. And with a budget that sits right at that line, we're virtually guaranteed, as we've been told by the state, to go under the minimum due to the way charter school enrollment is counted.
I have to say that I'm disappointed in this, as these conversations go much better when we all have the same numbers in front of us.
For those wondering: we look to be just over minimum spending for FY16 (to start the year), with our coming in about 1% under, due to the cummulative $3 million we've been underfunded in previous years. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

"...a being the development of which could not have been foreseen completely by the most gifted of its begetters."

"[W]hen we are dealing with words that also are a constituent act, like the Constitution of the United States, we must realize that they have called into life a being the development of which could not have been foreseen completely by the most gifted of its begetters. It was enough for them to realize or to hope that they had created an organism; it has taken a century and has cost their successors much sweat and blood to prove that they created a nation. The case before us must be considered in the light of our whole experience and not merely in that of what was said a hundred years ago."
Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Holland v. Missouri (1920), as quoted by Judge Margot Botsford in McDuffy v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Education (1993) 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Quality K fails in the Senate

Note that both Quality Kindergarten amemdments failed in the Senate last night, with Senator Joyce's failing on a standing vote of 8 to 16.
I don't know what's up with that.
As the House did pass funding for Quality K (equal to the amount that was funded after the midyear FY15 budget cuts), this will go to conference committee.

A note for Massachusetts on "pay for performance" from Baltimore

If you've been listening to Secretary Peyser, you may have noticed that he keeps bringing up this:
moving to "paying for performance"
That's from my notes on his speech to MASBO, 'though he gave the same speech to Mass Inc, as well, it appears.
Interesting note: it appears that the city of Baltimore has, at least in part, used a pay for performance model since 2009 in funding their schools. If you skim down here, in Bruce Baker's analysis of Baltimore's funding model, you can find it under "Baltimore's Big Fat Weighted Student Funding Fail." Baker did more of an analysis when Baltimore first proposed the model (back in 2009), and then he says this: 
...a likely outcome of the report’s recommendation for rewarding schools serving high performers and children identified as gifted, and for eliminating poverty weighting, will be the advent of more regressive within-district resource allocation formulas than have been seen to date.
(that's from page 5)

Essentially what any such formula does is flip the very foundation of the foundation formula on its head. Rather than recognizing that students with greater need require greater resources--the principle on which the foundation formula rests--it instead advantages those who are doing well. I have heard the Secretary reference "growth" in some of these speeches; note that there is still a correlation between growth and income, 'though it varies somewhat with what sort of growth model one uses.

This also continues the fallacy that funding is some sort of a reward: that if you do well, you get rewarded with more money, but if you do poorly, you get money taken away.
It is abundantly clear in Massachusetts, however, that this is Constitutionally not the case: funding is simply a Constitutional mandate.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Two WPS budget meetings next week!

On Tuesday at 4 pm, the Worcester Public Schools' portion of the municipal budget will be heard by the City Council at City Hall.

On Wednesday at 7 pm, the Joint Committees of Education (Council) and Finance & Operations (School Committee) will hold a public hearing on the WPS budget. 

You are welcome at both, and welcome to speak at the latter!
Please spread the word!!

Homeschooling families

Biancheria: some emails and phone calls I received from constituents of what is included in their student activities
array of opportunities available who are attending our schools
prior to doing that, I was interested in the number of students who are homeschooled as we look at the budget over the next couple of weeks
Boone: homeschooling is the responsibility of the parents
Rodrigues: records we have are the parents who are homeschooled
we have no power of them
whatever they report to us, is what they have
we might have a roster of families who have self-reported
some parents are maybe more
that is the extent of our relationship with the child
Boone: they notify us of their intent to homeschool, then they report to us once a year
Biancheria: if you homeschool, then you do not participate in other activities
do they play football?
Rodrigues: yes they do
and maybe other options, like maybe speech
very few students who participate in our activities
Biancheria: if we go towards the budget, then towards July and August
Rodrigues: only attachment to school is through an IEP or 504
only access to services at the school leve
can provide number of families at the school level
Boone: not sure that it would be a standing committee item
regulations for homeschooling and participation in activites is already defined
Rodrigues: don't oversee the process
just accept the report
rule as such is that it's the right of the parent to choose to do that
O'Connell: do we have any sort of a notice to parents that are homeschooling of the participation of parents
Rodrigues: specific guidelines from the state and the policy
all they have to give to us is their intent to homeschool
Novick: someone who homeschooled, certain that homeschool parents know what the law says
parent actually looking for clarification of current policy in writing
Request from parents that we state that extracurricular activities are open tot them on a budget and space resource availability basis
will not make motion now, but will at time we consider our policy handbook

Summer reading!

They'll be coming home as well! 
Reading is required, but YOU PICK the books. 

Speaking of attendance

...did you happen to notice the improvements around chronic absenteeism in the TLSS report earlier this week?

Foundation Budget Review Commission date extended (by Senate)

Today as part of today's budget deliberation, the Senate passed the extension requested by Senator Chang-Diaz for the Foundation Budget Review Commission to November.
Thus they will submit an interim report for June and the full report for November

Claremont Academy Innovation plan

...can be found here.
Or you can read a summary here.
Boone: innovation fellowships: three awarded across the state; Claremont one of three
Bob Knittler the innovation fellow who put together the plan with extensive coordination with school
prospectus approved by three member panel (superintendent, EAW president, member of School Committee)
Hall (principal): gives me great pleasure to present this synopsis of the plan
Knittle: all honors college prep curriculum, "built on idea of students as powerful thinkers"
have grades 7 & 8 prepared for all hours
College, Career, & Civic Readiness
each student develop a CCC plan
Gateway performances at grades 8 10 and 12
students to do personal assessment quarterly
early college and career experiences: AP, college courses early, internships related to career interests, civic minded community service
"prepare students for citizenship"
socio-emotional learning and mentorship (with attention to mental and physical health and well-being)
cradle to college innovation zone
tracking alumni: "where they're going and what characteristics they may have been missing along the way to better support our kids"
Powerful collaborative learning: "opening up our classrooms to support each other"
seeing teachers who are teaching same kids, as well as vertical teams to see where they're coming from and going
"where teachers become researchers in their own learning"
"the degree to which it was a participatory event for my faculty"
"amount of participation and involvement my teachers have had very proudly in the creation of this plan"

Worcester School Committee meets at seven

You can find the agenda here.

Graduation season starts today!

The Worcester Public Schools' graduation season gets started today with the Creamer Center, graduating at 10 am at Worcester Tech!
Congratulations, class of 2015!
You can find the full list posted here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why we're not fixing the swimming pool at South High

In our continuation of "everyone wants to be on the School Committee in the spring," we have last night's Council meeting, which, on an item put forward by Councilor Palmieri, featured a discussion of the South High swimming pool...
You can find the last round of this with Council here (scroll down for Germain's questions) during the FY14 budget session before Council. This included not only the information Mayor Petty put forward last night regarding South High's scheduled replacement (more sure now, as in 2013, it hadn't yet entered the MSBA pipeline), but also some discussion of the largest reason we can't just renovate the pool--

It sits on top of the school's electrical plant.

Moreover, (and this is what happens when an idea gets taken up by the body that doesn't actually oversee it) we not only have students in pools: the Worcester Public Schools have a swim team. You can find our list of sports on the WPS Athletics page. Their home pool is the Boys and Girls Club pool on Taintor Street.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports notes

The agenda is here

PARCC update

Here's what the Board has:

Note the above: the two ELA sections on PARCC will be merged into one next year; the mathmatics section says as one.

I tweeted out comments, as my computer went down. I'll follow up with posts of those when I get a chance.

And one comment from me:

Changes to charter school regs: discussion

You can find the proposed changes posted here.

Sagan; "straightforward change...not sure they'll be many changes"
Chester: allow applicants and districts to better plan for the coming year
in coming cycle will be published even after final applications are admitted
propose use list of bottom 10% of districts that current exist by test scores of 2 years ago
"not about changing inclusion of growth in the provision"
not about changing at least two provision
it is a vote to put it out for comment
final approval for summer or early fall
vote would give notice to applicants and districts of the anticipated change
Sagan: I like it's very straightforward, don't need comment from staff
out for public comment
and they still aren't posted...

Board of Ed update on Holyoke

Chester: "on the ground in Holyoke on a daily basis"
Alan Ingram overseeing this work
team of three staff members on the ground
"serving as the pseudo-central office team"

Revised science standards: Board of Ed

Sagan recommending that these standards not be voted today, but at least meeting
Commissioner: six year development cycle
first time since initial adoption that this has been done
review panel: representative of many organizations and perspectives
that then taken to Board (back in 2010)
then review panel helps draft revised standards
version on that then goes to Board for vote for public comment, which is where we are now

Charter reg changes proposed: Board of Ed

The change being sent out for public comment today would base the calculation of the lowest 10% of districts on scores released two years prior.

Language change below:

Board of Ed meets at nine: comments

The Board of Ed meets at nine; you can find the agenda here.
meeting today at Pioneer Charter of Science, as is the custom, the home school of the Board of Ed's student member

Commissioner: congratulations Margaret McKenna on her appointment as Suffolk University president
Teacher of the year appointment, very much believes in inclusion, keeps students in her classroom would not be there in other schools
in process of extending Lawrence turnaround plan for another three years
extending contract on receiver,  as well; he'll be here in June
Donahue report on Smith Vocational which I can't find online

Monday, May 18, 2015

What does the FY16 budget mean for me?

or "my kids" or "my classroom"

Last week, I posted a bit of a rundown from the district perspective of the FY16 Worcester Public Schools budget. I know that many are interested in what the budget looks like from the classroom level, though, so here's a post for that. At the end of this post is a school-by-school budgetary impact on staffing as proposed by the budget (which--annual reminder--is not official until passed by the Worcester School Committee).

Remember, by the way, that you can find the school-by-school budget starting on page 249 of the full WPS budget. All numbers here are from that.

With the increased enrollment leading to increased teaching staff, elementary class sizes, with 10 additional teachers, for next year look like this:

At the secondary level, there's the additional of 11 teaching positions, systemwide; what that looks like will be most clear on the school-by-school budgets at the end.
There's also the addition of 11 special ed teachers and 14 ELL teachers, so if your children receives those services, we're working to keep staffing up with our level of need.

If your child is in the dual language program at Roosevelt and Chandler Magnet, note that the fifth grade positions are being added.
If your child is at Quinsigamond (our largest elementary school with 800 students), you'll see another assistant principal. 
If your child is at Claremont, your lead teacher will be converted to an assistant principal position.
And three schools will see their custodial coverage go back up.
If your child is in elementary school, the new math curriculum is being funded.
And just about everywhere: Better wifi! Quicker internet access!

On to school-by-school:
as always: numbers are based on enrollment and class assignments, as well as IEPs and ELL determinations; for more on that, see appendix A. Elementary numbers will sometimes change over the summer due to changes in enrollment. Only full teaching positions are noted here; there are other staffing changes projected and can be found in the school-by-school budgets.

We have charter reimbursement amendments!

Thanks to Senator Hedlund and Senator Chang-Diaz who have filed charter reimbursement funding amendments to the Senate Ways and Means budget!
That's underfunded by $54 million statewide, $1.1 million for Worcester. Get in touch with your senators on it!
And thanks to Senator Moore for signing onto both! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Worcester School Committee meetings this week

The Teaching, Learning, and Student Supports subcommittee is meeting on Tuesday, May 19 at 5:30 pm at the administration building. You can find the agenda here.
On the agenda: cursive, chronic absenteeism, AP Mandarin Chinese. Also, summer reading and new courses!

We also have our regular meeting on Thursday, May 21 at 7 pm at City Hall. That agenda is here.
In addition to a whole bunch of recognitions, we have the presentation of the Claremont Academy innovation plan. You might remember that we received a grant for an Innovation Fellow to plan this.
We also have a donation from the United Way for Burncoat Prep and one for Burncoat High, and one from the Olivios for Tatnuck Magnet.
We have the quarterly report of the collaborative.
Mr. O'Connell wants to talk about the SPECIAL program proposed by two Doherty students.
Mr. Monfredo is asking us to recognize Belmont Street School for reading.
And Ms. Biancheria wants a report on the number of homeschooling families in Worcester and the number of staff involved with them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Board of Ed meets Tuesday

You can find the agenda here. Note that the meeting is at Pioneer Charter School in Everett, which is the school of student rep Donald Willyard; traditionally, the Board holds its May meeting at the home school of their student rep.
On the agenda: updates on PARCC, Holyoke, Level 5 schools, and FY16; the end of year report of the Student Advisory Council; and sending both revised science standards and revised charter regs (not posted) out for public comment.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

We have Quality Kindergarten amendments!

Two, in fact: one that restores it to post midyear cut levels, the other to what looks like the beginning of FY15 levels.
(with thanks to Mike Buckley and Mike Lebrasseur for doing the legwork on this!)

EDU 549 
Full Day Kindergarten
Mr. Joyce moved that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7030-1002, by striking the words “provided further, that funds remaining in this item after grants have been issued to all cities, towns or regional school districts willing and able to expand kindergarten programs to full-day programs shall be divided among each of the programs that received funds through this item in fiscal year 2015 in a manner proportional to the distribution of funds to cities, towns and regional school districts in fiscal year 2015;” and in said item, by striking the figure “$1,000,000” and inserting in place thereof the figure:- “$18,589,713”.

EDU 613
Keeping Our Commitment - Kindergarten Development Grants
Mr. Hedlund, Ms. Flanagan, Messrs. Fattman and Lewis, Ms. O'Connor Ives, Ms. Gobi, Messrs. Brownsberger and Lesser moved that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 7030-1002, by striking out the figures “$1,000,000” and inserting in place thereof the figures “$23,948,947”

Now to get one passed! Get in touch with your senators, please!

Rep. Peisch at MASBO (on Foundation Budget)

Peisch: recommendations to Legislature about calculation of foundation budget, plus effective use of resources
"really like to thank Dave Verdolino for his participation"
"have found it very helpful to have Dave on the commission"
"he understands the foundation budget and what it is"
eye-opening to see how many people involved in school districts have limited understanding of foundation budget
held series of hearings between first and second meetings
people did focus on two areas: cost of benefits and cost of special education
"people who used it as an opportunity to talk about many other things"
speaks of presentation by superintendent of Revere public schools
improved performance with not much money
At last meeting, took vote, pending advisory commission input
raise health care number to average GIC amount for a municipal member of GIC
on annual basis, benefits have their own inflation adjustor
"relatively easy recommendation" given all the reports of the past years
raise current assumed enrollment from 3.75 to 4% assumption for special ed for most districts
(to 5% for voke)
assumed out of district tuition by the difference of  current to where circuit breaker kicks in
required by legislation to end of June
"have gotten to make very very positive
"Many of us were concerned that if go on too long, and we come up with a long laundry list, we may have difficulty getting them implimentated"
should perhaps note here that this was Peisch's position, in contrast to Chang-Diaz's, which was to be sure that things weren't left out
Baehr's presentation on low spending, high performance
will also look at what other areas commission wants to look at: Chang-Diaz filing for extension
decentralized decision-making
low income, ELL
"I think those are going to be difficult things to reach consensus on"
important to have discussions before we finish our work
Q: any discussion of assumption of 1% out-of-district?
Peisch: somewhat accurate, Commission has found
Q: section 260 of retiree health
Peisch: including retiree health in the calculation is part of the recommendation on health insurance
"not accounted for at all in the foundation budget"
Q: anyone looking at moving the October 1 date out?
Peisch: has not been discussed yet, did come up in hearings
"the further we move that October 1 date forward" longer to calculating foundation budget number
pothole account, possibly?
Q: how will changes impact circuit breaker?
Peisch: changes are conceptual, changes would have to be in Legislation

Secretary Peyser at MASBO's Annual Institute

Peyser: "I did learn something already this morning: MASBO good; mandates bad."
apologize for the Teachgate scandal: "who named that company, anyway?"
"I apologize for anything bad that has ever happened in the past..."
"the rubber hits the road in schools and in school districts"
best policy won't produce good schools
"thousands of actions at the local level..made a meaningful and lasting difference" in education
"I'm planning to talk somewhat more broadly" about financing (beyond K-12)
new administration, new Senate president, new UMass president, foundation budget
"we now are in a moment that is ripe for re-evaluating status quo"
"making the whole greater than the sum of the parts"
overlapping agencies at multiple levels: fragmentation
breaking down silos across public education
greater regional connections pre-k through college
education, labor, econ development
valuing results over compliance
"too often the rules of the road" overcome, become bureaucratic governance
comprehensive agency review across the entire administration: clear metrics across the departments
"refocus on holding ourselves and others accountable"
moving to "paying for performance"
"delivering results and taking them to larger scale"
"perpetuating the status quo" doesn't deal with changing circumstances
state government share information, provide support
transparency, predictability
avoiding "unexpected volitity" in finance
"not promising more than we can deliver

Greater alignment and even merging (?) between preK, K-12, college
all should have foundation funding
K-12 don't have all the answers
PreK and college have pay for quality; K-12 should
"further investment in success"
"long term affortability of the whole"
connect separate funding streams of PreK, K-12, college
"forced to make some very tough choices and trade offs"
rethink approach to thinking and learning
"same basic educational model that's been in place for well over a century"
"new models of teaching and learning at all levels"
restructure the way in which we structure state grant proposals
"come to see them as general revenues"
"pour energy" into advocacy instead of incorporating funding
"not producing transformative change at scale"
"doing good is not good enough"
Partnerships Schools Network
and we're just getting the argument the Governor Baker made about the grant merger
"perhaps the biggest obstacle" is in moving from grants that were planned on
looking to work with MASBO on such things

Q, Pat Murphy: role in reviewing mandates?
done with DESE, others within admin
Q: view on expansion of charter schools and how it supports public ed
"I'm a charter school supporter, and I believe we need more of them"
Massachusetts charter schools, "I think...there's no way to deny the fact that they are providing great results for the children they serve"
"not making nearly the kind of progress we have to for the children in those community"
"can't afford to leave any assets behind"
should be funded the way that charter schools are (in that money should follow child)
"I think we need to understand districts can effectively reallocate resources...down to the school level"
"reallocate and restructure resources in changing" enrollment
Q; concerned about "success happening at the school level"
don't have a change to offer our inside persepective
policy makers" reviewing their own stuff"
Peyser: "maybe there is a way of incorporating more feedback from the field"
perspective of a "customer"
perspective: Holyoke charter school "was white flight" choice
Peyser disagrees with assessment of the demographic of Holyoke charter school
asks why school choice doesn't work same way as charter school funding
Peyser: "very much would like to look at that"
vision of funding?
Peyser: some preference for districts or schools that are producing "high quality results"
Q: competitive disadvantage: parents who are involved choose
"I believe in fair play"
Peyser: don't believe that we should impose restraints of districts on charters
Lawrence: reduces work rules, allows competative disadvantages
"need to relax and reduce constraints"
Peyser: "Charlie Baker personally wants to do everything he can to reduce those burdens"
"want to be as aggressive and supportive as we possibly can"
Note from Holyoke that a child leaving does not lose an equivalent funding
Peyser: "you don't get rid of teacher because you've lost two children in a classroom"
"reimbursement formula is extremely generous" (oh, really?)
"reasonable to expect districts" given state funding to reorganize around students lost
essentially, that was a "given the amount of money we give you, you should be able to work it out"
Q about Sturgis (charter on the Cape)
Peyser: the extent that there is any evidence of screening or counseling out
"if this is parent choice, then that's one of the benefits of charters"
if there are parental barriers, "that's something we need to work on addressing"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Worcester: can you make a quick call for kindergarten IAs, please?

The Massachusetts Senate FY16 budget was released today at noon. While I'll have more to come on this, there's one quick piece of advocacy Worcester parents and teachers could do that would help the Worcester Public Schools' FY16 budget.

The Massachusetts Senate budget, released today, funds the Quality Kindergarten grant at $1 million for the entire state. Last year, Worcester received $751,388, which paid for 21 instructional assistants in kindergartens across the city. That was with $18 million funding statewide.
We have in our current budget this same (level-funded) amount.
If you have seen the importance of IAs in kindergarten, please contact Senator Chandler and Senator Moore to ask that they work to amend this account (7030-1002).
Senator Chandler 617-722-1544
Senator Moore 617-722-1485
And if this is important to you, and you're in another district, you can find your senator here
More to come on the Senate budget when I have a chance.

"No reduction of positions and no loss of programs or services for students" WPS FY16

The FY16 budget is now out, and, having now had a chance to go through it, a few notes from me follow.
(Much of this can be found in the accompanying budget summary memo)

The above title is the first thing to know: no layoffs and no program cuts this year! Whew!
In fact, we're adding! The proposed budget adds:
  • 10 elementary teachers
  • 11 secondary teachers
  • 11 special ed teachers
  • 14 ELL teachers
  • fifth grade dual language teachers
  • a school nurse position
  • a full time (from halftime) librarian at Burncoat Prep
  • 3 school adjustment counselors
  • 3 custodians
  • 1 assistant principal, and converts a lead teacher to an assistant principal.
Notice that the above additions focus heavily on why we have an increased budget: increased enrollment and changes in enrollment, namely:
  • enrollment increase (Pre-K-12) of nearly 600 students
  • 834 more ELL students 
  • 776 more low income students
That's where the increased funding is coming from (remember, the inflation rate is only 1.5%). 

The budget also proposes boosting school safety's line item 50% and funding the arts magnet program an additional $10,000 (to fund their programs for the entire year). 
And--this is exciting--it takes $425,643 of district funding and puts it up for Erate funds, which brings back $5.1 million! The plan is for all new network switches, adding wifi access points to the schools with weak spots or no spots, increase internet connections (to 100MB for elementary, 1GB for secondary), and replace switched Ethernet with fiber, districtwide.

Of the total budget, 28.2% of it comes from the city; 58.2% (the largest section) is state chapter 70 aid.

The City Council hears the Worcester Public Schools' bottom line on May 26 at 4 pm. There is a (probable) Joint Meeting for a public hearing on the WPS budget on May 27 at 7 pm (we don't know where yet). The School Committee will hear the budget on June 4 and 18 at 4 pm.

As always, more to come!

CPPAC Wednesday

Quick reminder that CPPAC meets Wednesday at 7pm at the library. Superintendent Boone is their guest speaker: updates on budget, the Advanced Academy, the recovery school, and the like!

I have an MASC meeting, so I won't be there, but do attend!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

City Council budget hearings by department

The City Council will meet the next three Tuesdays at four pm. They will review the municipal budget, department by department, as follows:

May 12
Police Department
Fire Department
Health and Human Services
Public Health
Elder Affairs
City Manager's Office
Human Resources
Worker's Comp/IOD
Unemployment Compensation

Health Insurance

May 19
Emergency Comm
Inspectional Services
Economic Development
WRA/Union Station
Workforce Investment Board
Workforce Career Center
Marketing Campaign
Cable Services
License Commission
Law Department
Court Judgements
City Council
Mayor's Office
City Clerk's Office
Elections Commission
City Auditor


May 26
Worcester Public Schools
Public Works
Golf Course
Snow Removal
Off Street Parking
Administration and Finance
Technical Services
Energy and Asset Mgmt
Debt Service
Pension Obligation Bond
DCU Center
Five Point Plan Funds

Line Item Budget

The FY16 budget is posted!

You can find it here (it's a big one!)
I don't see the city's budget online yet...anyone?

Change in PARCC forum times

Change in PARCC Forums Time:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has changed the time for two upcoming PARCC forums. The forum onMay 18 at Bunker Hill Community College and the forum on June 10 at Bridgewater State University will both run from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., which means they will start and end an hour later than originally planned.

Friday, May 8, 2015

If you couldn't be at Jonathan Kozol on Wednesday

... (like me!) the Learning Lab sent a reporter!


The FY16 budget of the Worcester Public Schools will be released this evening. I suspect it will probably be linked directly from the WPS front page, but it will certainly show up in the FY16 folder in Finance.
Happy reading!

Note: family wedding this weekend, so nothing from me on this 'til Monday. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The budget is coming! A few city notes

The WPS budget comes out tomorrow--look for it online!--and the Council gets the City Manager's budget this weekend as well.

From the Telegram's article (which is the only source I have; we don't get the municipal budget), the WPS budget is going up by the state-required $1.6 million, plus the $1 million required to meet increased transportation costs (which is not included in Net School Spending).

So, good news? We'll meet Net School Spending for FY16.
Plus, the planning year for the Advanced Academy is included in funds from the courthouse sale.

Bad news? We're not going over the minimum (or if we are, it's by the Advanced Academy planning year), and we're not making a dent in the $3 million carryover from previous fiscal years.

How was the recess money spent?

You can find the report here.

School lunch price for 2015-16

per tonight's vote will be $1.80.

Innovation schools: Worcester East Middle

The report of the superintendent on Worcester East Middle's innovation school is here.
Reminder that innovation schools have six areas of autonomy: curriculum, PD, schedule & calendar, staffing, budget, and district policies

Rodrigues: second round included WEMS, Worcester Tech, Lincoln Street
others had five year innovation cycles; WEMS had a three year cycle
major feature was adding 6th grade to middle school
thus grades 6-8 are aligned
common planning time for each team
PD in developmental design & instructional best practice

moving ahead with flexible grouping for students who have not yet mastered particularly standards
intervention for students who have not yet mastered math standards

Boone: SGP's are student growth percentiles: between 40 and 60 represent that annual rate of progress
"and I predict in the future that they will even begin to exceed those"

there for the library opening and the kids were so excited
partners selective in how they give out their funding
how many for next year?
about 92 coming for next year
science labs: new additions each year, which is great
new cabinets for the science room to store equipment
students then move to North High School with science for a career

good things happening at the academy
squared away with science materials that we were lacking?
Yes, are going to get a few more things for the science lab
lab sinks as well
Monfredo: attendance: any chronic absenteeism?
No, keep in contact with parents, come to the school for meetings and for events

schools are most effective when they are developed bottom up
"heavy layer of common sense" in planning
behaviors that underwrite so much
would it be appropriate to add numbers to science MCAS goals?
to reach progressively higher goals
new goals once new scores come out in the fall
Motion: inform SC of what goals are once established

telling that we have developed so many innovation schools
"best the autonomy that it gives"
bring a team that's going to bring success

is this the plan that will be submitted?
no, mostly plan that was previously submitted, a few tweaks, but will include the new goals based on MCAS in fall
needs approval now due to innovation expiring in June
request that we have available full plan for such approvals
how are flexible scheduling times working?
advisory time: working well
attractive to parents

three year approval unanimously passes

School lunch prices

Foley: required to raise school lunch prices due to federal regulations
Allen: what we charge for full price meals must be equal to federal reimbursement for free lunch
you can find the calculation here
started at $1.50, now up to $1.75
will need to go to $1.80
will bring in less than $15,000
Foley: nutrition is self-funded
Allen: including health insurance for current employees and retirees
Novick: reduced rate is 40 cents
bigger and bigger stretch between full rate and reduced rate
Allen: state pushing for community eligibility; state hasn't yet answered how that will work for other things yet

Finance and Operations: third quarter

Report is here
Allen: reflects a lot of the conversation we've had in previous quarters
projected balance has improved
drivers still extraordinary winter (and overtime), 9C cuts, and workers comp "again continues to be" greater than budgeted (even as more was included this year)
custodial overtime, balanced by projected balance in custodial salaries
"typical things that we would see at this point in the year"
transfers to process payments
Ramirez: day-to-day subs "seems high"
Allen: one of the accounts that we've traditionally underfunded, deficit "fairly typical"
Novick: overtime for weather has gone up since second quarter
removal of snow on weekends at overtime rate (during March)
Novick: building utilties up still more?
Allen: above projected, should be borne out for the rest of the year
Novick: unfrozen funds for PD, IT, curriculum supplies
Allen: balance bears out ability to thaw funds
does not impact frozen student supplies
Ramirez: additional funds for weather?
Allen: FEMA didn't funds as much as requested, meeting with city CFO later this month, will discuss
Foley: would love to see FEMA money targeted funded for materials
workers comp get closer
"especially instructional materials"
should see less in unemployment this year (due to fewer layoffs)
Allen: will see increase in instructional materials account, but will be largely for textbooks for math
Foley: "we'll keep pushing for paper"

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday

Yes, due to our April schedule being off due to holidays and vacation, we meet two weeks in a row!
You can find the agenda here.

We are honoring our Boston Globe Scholastic Art and Writing award winners!
And Donna Lombardi, our School Nutrition director!
And the Y, which was a great help to our crew team on their spring fundraiser!

The report of the superintendent is on the end of the three year cycle for Worcester East Middle School (my recollection is that we approved more than Worcester East Middle three years ago; I'm asking about the others)

We'll have a report coming out of F&O (which meets at noon on Thursday on the third quarter and on school lunch prices for next year).

We have a few responses from administration: on the facilities report online, on recess spending, and on Channel 11 funding.
Mr. O'Connell is asking about re-establishing the Doherty Satellite program, and is asking about bookbags in the schools.

And that's it! No executive session this week.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Worcester city budget (with a sidebar on safety)

Mayor Petty just announced that the City Council will meet at 4 pm next Tuesday to begin their budget deliberations. They will meet again at 4 on the 12, the 19, and the 26; they will meet if necessary on June 2.
At some point there will be a schedule of which departments will be heard when; I'll post it once I have it.

Also tonight, the Council took up Councilor Bergman and Rosen's item requesting the City Manager report on the cost of medal detectors and police in schools. They heard significant public testimony tonight (nearly unanimous in opposition), then had a discussion that in part hinged on this being outside of their purview.
In a six-five vote, the motion was defeated, with Mayor Petty, and Councilors Lukes, Rushton, Rivera, Economou, and Palmieri voting against the request for such a report.
Notable quotes:

Foundation Budget Review Commission

came in a minute late to a presentation by Karla Brooks Baehr on benchmarking using the state's data resources: comparing like districts, spending, and MCAS scores; this is going to be tough to blog without the charts
(I should also point out that I was sitting behind the Chairs, and sometimes didn't catch all that they said; apologies for what I missed)
limitations on this benchmarking: limited school-level data, grant expenditures too aggregated, student performance not aggregated enough, DART not flexible enough, EDWIN difficult to master
Recommending that studying benchmarking: look at limitations, and provide what is needed to overcome them
Commissioner (who is here!) answering a few questions about the database that's being used for these comparisions, how long they've had it, what they're working on with it
superintendent commenting on use: go in with a theory, looking for data to see what data responds to that
Suggestion from Baehr: chart with left verticle of student growth and performance and bottom would be student spending (yes, really!)
"And you'd look for example for high growth, low spending districts"
"you'd look for low growth high spending"
"create networks where you could take the questions that are prompted by the benchmarks and use them for levels of state involvement
suggest a continuum: level one: local control progressing to more state involvement depending on level to level 5 with no local control
gradations suggestions to low growth/high spending districts in terms of how much state intervention you could have (she puts this in terms of "hands": heaviest hand, lightest hand)
"and the heaviest: you could make access to funding dependant on the use of the benchmarks"
promoting collaborative and regional services: department could require all districts to be part of a collaborative; if they are not, they must show that they have a more cost-effective alternative
suggests that health insurance level could be adjusted based on median spending base per pupil based on districts in GIC with employee contributions with 75%
ELL & low income allotment: state could REQUIRE use of additional allotments to go to ELL & low income schools
chart comparing percentage of workday therapists spent with students: internal benchmarking within a district
Not just looking at common planning time, but how it is used, for example
Baehr cautions:there are no panaceas: just practical steps districts can be supported to take towards more effective allocation
Q from Verdolino (this from MASBO's rep): what is the optimum district size? "My contention is that there are districts that are too small to achieve efficiencies and some that are too large to do so"
Baehr: has been some national research on that
Verdolino: and should this be something that the state should be promoting?
Baehr: "I'm just in the practical" districts that need access to collaboratives and the services that they provide
Peyser: "seems as if an underpining as to getting to applying many the granularity of the data"
Baehr: don't know enough about it
Hatch: MASBO a great partner: to me the question is to put tools in the hands of those who make decisions about resource allocation in the state; district level and the school level
"time available to school and district leaders to do this kind of work"
would take time and resources
could only take work from MASBO and leaders
"to the degree that they're frustrated with the lack of granularity of data" would be how much work could be done
department would be in a better position to know what data is in the accounting software at the district level is available (if they were hearing this from MASBO & business officials)
"would need to be a balance of calling for better information and getting people in the field" to volunteer what data they already have
"much muddier answer"
Commissioner now asking questions about a scattergraph chart that I mostly can't see
Chester: if I'm a district of 1000 students spending $4000 on fixed benefits and charges, if I could make that $1000 per student, I'd free up $3000 times 1000 students 
(I'm not clear where this was going; I think the muliplier effect of any cost savings that could be realized if all districts had lowest cost?)
median size is 17-1800 students
a quarter are at less than 800 students per district
Jehlen: we also need to think about local goals, that aren't ELA and math, about socio-emotional growth, about other achievement
"to the extent that we measure and require things, we limit other goals"
"I would hate for this commission to accept that there's such a limited number of things in how we measure success"
"there are a lot of heavy hands...making information public is good...would be surprised if state telling districts" would be acccepted
Madeloni: other pieces that speak to other goals
Baehr: whole suite of DART goals: ratio of art teachers to students in the district, for example
Madeloni: what can we learn from high growth high spending? What are they doing to add other things?
doesn't always look at the broader political systems: "systems that have more money already are not going to have heavy hand of state"
Chang-Diaz: will be more sessions for more discussion
superintendent: this is a start to investigate, not necessarily to draw conclusions

Chang-Diaz and Peisch offering proposals to discuss about moving forward
Chang-Diaz proposing to be sure "meaty, important work" has sufficient time; that they use a five month extension: November 1 deadline
also make some crisp decisions today about areas and pockets of potential recommendations today
time to give substantial deliberation
would propose to no more presentations at this time: time to those appointed to deliberate
would meet June, July, none in August, September, October to review report
Peisch proposing push for June deadline
"I would like to point out that we are not able to extend ourselves" need Legislative approval
would not know until end of June that extension was possible
believed focus on few significant items: special education and health insurance
Peisch: "could take up health insurance and special education today" then take up others to narrow focus of others to those that have received a broad base of support from the group
think it's necessary to have report by deadline
Jehlen: have served on many commissions that have not reported out by deadline; also that report comes out to Joint Committee on education (and chairs of commission also chair that committee)
seems that Senate chair has laid out a good way that this could be influential
"have put a significant amount of time into this"
low income and ELL, for example, need to be included
"would be reluctant to report out" that doesn't include that
has not seen any recommendations from advisory groups; would want to hear from them first
Reville: sympathic to extention, but "feel a sense of urgency"
"have a pretty clear forceful message" about sped and health insurance
"have worried in general that if we try to do too much to do the perfect rather than the good that we're setting up a target that is so large that it makes it easy for the Legislature to dismiss"
Reville wonders about middle ground: issue report by deadline, but Commission will supplementally deliberate then issue a supplementary report
another: has been no deliberation involved, issuing a report without any substantial deliberation would be frustrating
letting them know that the recommendation is coming would give them plenty of notice
"think the Commission would benefit from the discussion on this [foundation budget] and that people will walk away frustrated" without that
need a majority of the Legislature to vote this
need to give them some kind of confidence that this is a good use of money
"I don't think there's time to make a proposal about this, let alone make people comfortable with this"
then "you might as well not have the report, because it's not going to happen"
Rep. Ferguson: "I do think we need to produce something"
"gives us that credibility"
do we think at making two sets (of recommendations)?
districts looking not at FY16, but FY17 and beyond
tight timeframe
Peisch: think that that we can make honest recommendations and at the same time be complete
can circulate proposals without meeting
Francomano (MASC rep): looking for a comprehensive proposal
"I'm hearing that people are saying 'it's already been decided that it's health insurance and sped'"
that wouldn't be sufficient
need to address all of the issues, not just the two that were decided early on, that the Legislators really want to know
AFT: teachers in urban areas of the state: wouldn't want this commission to be characterized as one that was directed by the two chairs and only did the issues that they raised.
all of the issues that are brought up need full deliberation
Suggestion from another that discussion of two areas under consideration be dealt with first, then this decided
Chang-Diaz agrees that we're close to an agreement about those two proposals
looking at the spread of other issues that were circulated by email
thinks that deliberation by email would be of lower caliber
questions around requirements and strings, levels of reporting, levels of funding direction at district versus schools
"how do we answer those questions between now and June 29?"
Chester: additional time would give us time to explore those things more deeply, but not sure how quickly anyone would come to agreement
for example, ELL funds following child
would find it valuable to publish report that there are agreement on
flagging areas for other and further discussion
Q from Verdolino (MASBO): outcome? bill that goes to Joint Committee
if report is issued by June, bill goes to Joint Committee, testimony brings out other issues during hearings..."would that give us our cake and eat it, too?"
Chang-Diaz: people of good will can disagree on this
two part report "harness urgency best by keeping urgency on us to deliver the report"
spread of attention: I worry about handicapping those (2nd) set of recommendations relative to the first
Peisch: don't think in any way lessens...clear interest in health insurance and special education students
way to get to a recommendation that gets a report in June
"time does matter"
getting report out in June that does address priorities as well as how money should be allocated
"clear message to our colleagues" about importance
argues that "it's far more likely to result in action"
(someone else) would like to give time necessary
far too important to not give time and attention
(another): going to take time across the state..."agree substantially with Alice"(Peisch)
"because there's not enough money for health care, there's not enough money for anything else"
a billion and half dollars isn't there "of course it isn't enough"
"I think we need time to discuss this...go through these allowances" so people can see that those two areas are enough or there aren't
"I can't go to the Legslature and say 'this will be enough' because there aren't teacher coaches in there" and we don't know that without going through how much we're short by catagory
Madeloni (MTA): "will be perceived as a quick fix" rather than we've looked at it deeply
(from someone else): "we don't come to this stage in isolation"
"needed to be approved to come together"
"put those together to me...have some pieces that even with the blunt recording instruments we have"
"I think that we get down to is this ratio right, is the floor right...I think that if we get down too deep into the details..." will get bogged down
appreciate reminder of charge of committee
"there's more work to be done...Legislature is going to need to put this in context"
contribution and aid side have been left off the table
Peisch suggesting that group vote
looking for clarification on Reville's proposal
wondering if report can be issued as interim: Chang-Diaz recommends that permission would need to be granted on that
Madeloni: asking for clarification
Reville: motion to issue a preliminary report for June deadline, then a final report for November
Jehlen: suggest that preliminary report include other issues that are needed to be considered
Reville: at some point need to be strategic for a few two or three things
be sure that we're relatively clear and transparent about what we're campaigning for
will be disagreement, but at some point we just need to call the question and move on
Verdolino asks if co-chairs are pleased with proposal
Peisch agrees
Chang-Diaz: would be important that final report be comprehensive
commission looking at consensus...voice vote is unanimous
(in other words, it will be a two part report: sped and health insurance, with list of other needs, for June deadline; comprehensive report in November)

Jehlen: asks when advisory groups will be heard from; "would like to see their comments"
Peisch: suggests a preliminary vote on this, subject to comment from advisory members

And onto the actual proposals for sped and health insurance:
DESE comments after looking at average GIC costs of municipal health plan; compared it to what foundation budget provides
in addition looked at what is actual expense for retiree health care
foundation budget never included anything on retiree health insurance
when you look at difference between what is being spent by districts on employees, a huge component of that is the retiree health insurance which was never included
would add a new foundation category from retiree health insurance
also a separate inflation adjustor for health insurance
"pretty straightforward"
up for discussion of health insurance inflation adjustor: recommendation "that it be developed" rather than specific be recommended
suggestion "really important not to leave this in the abstract..should be related to the GIC costs"
"normally things in the foundation budget are related to something" concrete
don't think retiree health insurance is really in control of local district
"have to work out how you would normalize that"
"really have to avoid having district being able to control its foundation budget that way"

Peisch: special education: would use recommendation received from various groups to raise assumed from 3.75% to 4.0% (in-district) and raise assumed out-of-district costs within budget to that number that would capture district's costs such that when you add the average per pupil expenditure...up to four times the foundation budget...

Aha! This added later: increase out-of-district per pupil rate to capture full cost to district prior to the circuit breaker kicking. In other words, increase by:

  4x foundation per pupil-(statewide per pupil+out-of-district cost)

calculating out how that works:

For health care (using FY14 numbers):
$684M increase in foundatoin budget, assuming a one year increase
required local increase $42M
$406M increase in chapter 70
(note that the above do not add up due to excess aid being in there)

Q: what does this do in terms of if the retirees health insurance is municipal budget or district?
Peisch: outside the purview of the commission
note that there is "a certain amount of excess aid" in the budget

I believe I got these numbers right; I'll double-check them as soon as I see anything else
on special ed : change in assumption of in-district
$55M increase in foundation budget
$29M increase in ch. 70 aid

on special ed: change in out of district
$46M increase in foundation budget
note that anything that raises foundation will lower circuit breaker

all told (of those together, using FY14 numbers)
bottom line for state: change of $515M in chapter 70

note from Hatch (? I think?) giving out aid ahead to those who don't really need it?
Peisch: assume that we'll entertain some discussion on views to legislature
1993 was a seven year implimentation

Q: confused on how you take the average GIC number by policy and convert that to students?
by the expected number of teachers

Q: do we start to include contributions to OPEB moving forward?
current policy is they can't count as transfers now, as they can't count twice

Fifty municipalities and regional districts are in the GIC
back and forth about if this will drive people to the GIC
will keep costs within benchmark

Verdolino: does it impact circuit breaker?
response: it all drives up the foundation budget
districts will lose some circuit breaker money

Q: what about the local share?
"you're not putting in the foundation budget the difference between actual and projected"
(this on special education out-of-district)
remark by Peisch that this is beyond the purview of this

MOTION to accept
Jehlen: always look at impact on equity
haven't seen these numbers until a half an hour ago
"I want to know how this effects that question" before voting

motion passes, 'though not unanimously

Chang-Diaz: draft workplan, summary of proposals made
asking for response to those ideas, what you want to prioritize moving forward

Foundation Budget Review Commission meets today!

I'll be heading into Boston in a bit for a meeting of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. They meet at 10 am today in the Senate Reading Room of the State House. Posts to follow.

Monday, May 4, 2015

South High Incident

We've just received the following from Superintendent Boone:

I write to inform you of an incident today involving a 10th grade student at South High School who was found to be in possession of a BB gun with no BBs. It was reported to school administration by another student that the BB gun had been shown to that student. School administration responded appropriately and handled the situation, with no disruption or interruption to school operations. The BB gun was found in the student’s backpack in the locker by the school administration. The school administration received support from the Police Liaison resulting in the student being taken into custody. Mrs. Binienda was at DAB for a meeting when the incident was reported. Dr. Rodrigues, Dr. Meade-Montaque and I have spoken with her and provided assistance and support in the follow up to the incident. Mrs. Binienda is preparing a ConnectED message to parents. The school continues with normal operations.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Finance and Operations meets Thursday

We're having a rare midday F&O meeting to squeeze in the third quarter report and school lunch changes necessary. Thus, two items on the agenda:

  • third quarter budget report: big news here, I'd say, is that the freeze of the four accounts we're using to save the IA positions that we'd lose due to the midyear Quality Kindergarden grants is somewhat lessened: staff development, technology, and curriculum supplies are all now frozen at $20,000, while environmnental management remains frozen at $50,000. You'll see that there are three budget transfers recommended.
  • school lunchh prices for next year: we are federal required to gradually raise our charged school lunch price to eventually reach the price we are federally reimbursed for each free lunch (you can see how this gets calculated on the attached report). That means that we're going to have to raise full price lunch next year to $1.80.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Worcester Public Schools graduations (with speakers)

The below are the dates and speakers of the Worcester Public Schools' graduations. Note also the following:

  • All high school graduations are at the DCU Center at 6 pm except as noted. 
  • Mayor Petty and Superintendent Boone speak at all seven high school graduations.
  • All middle schools hold ceremonies on the last day of school, June 25, at the school, except as noted. Forest Grove and Sullivan hold two ceremonies, splitting their eighth grade in half.
May 21: Creamer Center;10 am, Worcester Tech;Tracy Novick
May 22: St. Casimir's; 11 am, St. Casimir's; N/A
May 29: UPCS, Atwood Hall; Clark University; Brian O'Connell
June 1: Worcester Tech; Tracy Novick
June 2: Burncoat; Jack Foley
June 3: Doherty; Dianna Biancheria
June 5: North High; John Monfredo
June 8: South High; Hilda Ramirez
June 9: Claremont; Atwood Hall, Clark University; Brian O'Connell
June 10: Adult Learning Center; Fanning Building; 7pm; Dianna Biancheria

Claremont grade 8: 11 am; Jack Foley
Burncoat Middle; 1 pm, Tracy Novick
Sullivan Middle: 10 am, South High, Hilda Ramirez
Sullivan Middle: 1 pm; South High, Jack Foley
Forest Grove, 10 am;  John Monfredo
Forest Grove, 1 pm; Brian O'Connell
New Citizens Center: 1 pm; John Monfredo
UPCS grade 8: 1 pm, Jefferson 320, Clark University; Dianna Biancheria
Worcester East Middle: 11 am; Brian O'Connell

Pratt Library:"shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color"

Like the Ferguson Library did last year, the Pratt Library in Baltimore has been staying open amidst the storms around it and acting as a safe community space for all these past days.
The name made me curious, so a quick Google brought me to Enoch Pratt. This is a good story, so I'll quote a bit:
 Many residents of the City in late 1881 speculated what was being planned for the excavations going on in the north side of West Mulberry Street, by Cathedral Street, near the old Baltimore Cathedral in the tomey Mount Vernon-Belvedere-Mount Royal neighborhood, north of the business district on Cathedral Hill. The mystery was explained when on January 21, 1882, in a letter addressed to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Pratt offered a gift of a central library, four branch libraries (with two additional ones to be constructed shortly thereafter), and a financial endowment of (U.S.) $1,058,333. Further, he requested that to Mayor William Pinkney Whyte and the Council continue an annual appropriation to the new library system and support it in the years to come to supplement the interest and benefits accumulating from the principal of his bequest. His intention was to establish a library that "shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them." 
emphasis added
Note that this was in 1882.

And guess who he inspired? Andrew Carnegie.