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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Amherst Meeting, May 19, 2009

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).


Anonymous said...

I watched the SC meeting where this vote was taken and I have to say I was very confused by the chairperson's reactions to the vote. It's pretty amazing how someone can be so obviously upset by the closing of such a fine school and yet join the group making it a unanimous vote. Could he have been afraid to be left behind as a lone thinker?

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

Anonymous 3:49 - I guess you'd have to ask Andy why he voted as he voted ... I do think, however, that one can see that closing a school is sad, but that decimating the entire elementary school system (which cutting another $700,000 from the four schools for next year would have done) is even worse. I believe we all (and perhaps Andy at the most personal level) felt it was a choice between a rock and a hard place.

Anonymous said...

Only in the blogosphere could an anonymous poster question the courage and independence of an elected official forced to make a decision in public and then not be required to acknowledge the irony of doing so anonymously!

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what you just did... require him to acknowledge the irony?

Anonymous said...

There you go again...inflating the savings figure $$ of closing Marks though money is all that though money is the bottom line here and nothing more, nothing less...curious--very curious. So while the oppressed fight the oppressed *and close down schools and devastate families and teachers, etc...) the oppressors sit in their filthy wealth!