Sorry for the long delay on doing the update of this meeting -- I rushed to post the outcome of the meeting in which the vote on closing Marks Meadow was taken, and just never got back to posting the rest of the meeting update. So, I'm starting with that.
Following the MM vote, a brief recess was taken. Some parents and community members had a few questions/suggestions -- how to plan for future facilities use, whether MM could potentially still close this year, and how we would solve our continuing structural deficit.
We then heard announcements from the superintendent about a number of topics, including the decision to adopt of Impact 1 math textbooks for the 6th grade (which I'm thrilled about -- this book will lead directly into the Impact 2 and 3 textbooks now in use in 7th and 8th grade, and thus will help increase both horizontal and vertical alignment in our math curriculum, at least in these three grades) and that surveys would be sent to all staff and parents from all elementary schools on June 1st (again, I think this is a great way to help our incoming superintendent learn about the strengths and areas of concern perceived by parents and teachers).
I then asked a question regarding the impact of the proposed cuts to specials (art, music, PE) for the elementary schools. The superintendent explained that the proposed cuts had been somewhat revised, such that only 1.1 positions were being cut (NOT 1.7 as had been announced), and that the cuts were now being done based on creating equitable cuts across the four schools so that children in all elementary schools would have equivalent levels of exposure to specials (so, teachers were allocated based on number of classrooms they need to serve). An art teacher from Wildwood spoke in support of the superintendent's decision to manage the cuts in this type of equitable way, and described the importance of specials to children's overall education experience.
We then voted on two policy issues (both were important to do in light of the MM decision): not accepting School Choice children (the same as our current policy) and suspending the open enrollment policy for new children (meaning that children must attend the elementary school they are zoned to attend, unless they are already attending another school).
Finally, we reviewed items for upcoming meetings (our last meeting of the school year will be June 16th). We will hear about the school improvement plans for both Fort River and Wildwood at this meeting, and we discuss sub-committee assignments for members of the Amherst SC. Steve Rivkin suggested two items: the teacher evaluation process and the math curriculum used in our elementary schools (K to 5).
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.