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Jenny's Recap of February 3rd School Committee Meeting


The tenth School Committee meeting of the academic year was held on February 3rd, 2020. The Curriculum subcommittee also met on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020. We’ll cover both of these in this update!





Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Edouard-Vincent provided an update of notable happenings across the district.


High School

  • The girls’ indoor track team took 2nd place overall and had five 1st place finishes including the 300M, 600M, 1000M, 2 mile, and high jump.

  • Our Vocational students participated in the DECA District 6 competition. They competed in Business/Law/Ethics, Automotive Services Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Human Resource Management, Quick Service Restaurant Management, Restaurant and Food Service Management, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, and Apparel and Accessories Marketing. The School Committee approved a field trip request for students to attend the DECA State Competition in Boston at the end of February. Good Luck to ALL!

  • Class selection night for our 8th graders was held on February 5th at Medford High

  • Tristan Howard set a record for the 55M dash at 6.56 seconds at the MSTCA Boys and Girls Coaches Invitational. He shares the title with a fellow competitor at this event where they finished in a dead heat!

  • Two students were selected for the Massachusetts Music Education Association Jr. Festival. Congrats to Teagan Mustone and Kian Leo.

Middle Schools

  • Brookline Bank and Members Plus Credit Union presented our 8th graders at both schools with an introduction to financial literacy.

  • Our boys’ basketball team finished the season at 9-1. Our girls’ team also finished well at 8-2. Both play in the finals.

  • 2 McGlynn middle school students received Massachusetts Scholastic Art and Writing awards. Congrats to Sophia and Kenza!

Elementary Schools

  • Columbus Elementary School has completed its Pennies for Patients Drive and raised $3336. One classroom raised $936. WOW!

Other

  • The Medford Family Network Ice Cream Social was held on Saturday, February 8th.

  • On 2/23 at 8 am, the Mayor’s transition committee on beautification is holding a workday at Medford High. All are welcome to join.

  • Our Supervisor of Health Services, Toni Wray, provided an update on the developing coronavirus. Our schools have been working in collaboration with Medford’s Board of Health and monitoring recommendations by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of the update provided on February 3rd, Toni noted that Federal officials are advising travelers who arrive in the US after February 2nd from mainland China to self-quarantine for 14 days. She also stated that we are seeing the flu in our schools. She recommended continued proper hand-washing and cough-etiquette for us all and reminded us that it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.


Grants

At our meeting, we approved the acceptance of 3 grants to our schools. Many thanks to these grantors for their support and collaboration

  1. Medford High School received a $500 award from the ExxonMobil Education Alliance. Many thanks to Medford Square Mobil Gas Station for nominating us!

  2. The Electrical Program received a gift of a state-of-the-art fire alarm control panel training assembly, a data rack with termination tools, and a cordless band saw from alum Steve Nardone and Nardone Electric. Many thanks to Steve Nardone for his ongoing support and for this particular gift!

  3. CCSR received $5,000 from the Community Fund program, which allocated funds from Encore Boston.


Kindergarten Registration Update

Associate Superintendent Diane Caldwell provided an update on upcoming kindergarten registration. During the update, she offered the Committee a listing of important dates including:

  • Bridges to Kindergarten program (3/4, 4/7, and 4/29 at 6:30) for parents

  • Kindergarten Open House on Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 from 2-3 for parents and incoming Kindergarteners

  • Before/After School registration the week of 3/30. More to come on this in a future meeting.

During the discussion, she noted that all forms and requirements are available (or will be added in one case) on our website as well. See the district update with all the essential details here.


We also discussed questions about the timing and scope of our Kindergarten onboarding efforts. Diane confirmed that parents seeking tours of our schools should contact the building principal or her directly with questions regarding tours. She highlighted that our Principals are more than happy to accommodate requests and asked that community members reach out to her directly if necessary. We also discussed that many area charter schools have timelines for families that happen sooner than our current process. This is particularly important because many area districts have reached their charter cap, which means that Medford families are more likely than in years past to be selected in local charter school lotteries.


If you are considering a charter school, I’d strongly urge you to reach out to our district leaders, or even to me directly so that you can gather the information you need about Medford Public Schools BEFORE you decide. There are a million perspectives on charter schools out there, and in the end, families need to weigh them all. As we prepare for the budget season, I am struck by the significant funding that flows out of Medford Public Schools each year to area charter schools. We do a tremendous amount with a very tight budget. There is minimal excess in a given year for anything new beyond salary and cost of living increases. And yet, we send north of $5 Million to area charter schools. We could spend $5 Million additional dollars in our district in a heartbeat on additional staff, supplies, technology, curriculum, adjustment counselors, maintenance, and a host of other things. So, in the end, my suggestion to you is to be sure to get informed about Medford Public Schools before making any decision to enroll in a charter. To that end, the Committee voted unanimously to refer our Kindergarten orientation practices to the Engagement, Communication, & Strategic Planning subcommittee for review. The subcommittee will also review current communication and community engagement practices related to Kindergarten orientation. The subcommittee will recommend revisions to the current plan and approach to the School Committee by September 30th, 2020.


Middle School Lottery Selection Update

Dr. Bernadette Ricciardelli, our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, provided an update of the middle school selection process. For the 2nd year in a row, the district will execute a lottery to place our 5th grade students into one of our two middle schools. The lottery will distribute students evenly from each elementary school. Data from last year’s lottery confirms that the process resulted in a more even distribution of students and a balancing of racial and socio-economic differences. Students with educational needs served by specific and building-based programs will not be in the lottery. The district will send out a communication to all families in the coming weeks which will include

  • The rationale for lottery process of selection,

  • Description, and explanation of any student exemptions,

  • Outline of all lottery pools including school-specific breakdowns and sub-lotteries for students on IEPs and 504s, and

  • Schedule and timeline of key dates.


Here is a quick rundown of the key dates that relate to Middle School Selection:

  • Superintendent Info Sessions: Brooks 3/3 5:30-6:30, Roberts 3/3 5:30-6:30, McGlynn 3/10 5-6, and Columbus 3/10 6:30-7:30

  • Sibling Opt-In/Out Forms will go home on 2/26 and must be returned by 3/4. This applies to families where there is an older sibling currently in 6th or 7th grade at one of our middle schools. Families may choose to send their 5th-grade students to the same school for continuity purposes OR enter the lottery.

  • Lottery Drawing: 3/26 3-4 pm at Medford High School Library

  • Confirmation letters for student placement will be sent on 4/1.

  • McGlynn Middle School Orientation will be held on 5/6 from 6-8 pm.

  • Andrews Middle School Orientation will be held on 5/7 from 6-8 pm.


Similar to the Kindergarten orientation process, the Committee voted unanimously to refer our Middle School onboarding practices to the Engagement, Communication & Strategic Planning subcommittee for review. The subcommittee will also review current communication and community engagement practices related to middle school selection. The subcommittee will recommend revisions to the current plan and approach to the School Committee by October 31st, 2020.


Strategic Plan

Superintendent Edouard-Vincent and a team of talented administrators from across the district provided us a first look at the district-wide plan they have been working to draft. I am excited that we are pursuing a strategic planning effort as a district. We’ve heard about a lot of strategic plans in Medford over the last few months because we are at the proverbial tipping point, where we all recognize that we can’t continue without a strategic plan. Our strategic plan is a critical roadmap, and not something we can or should expect to come together quickly or easily. With our strategic plan process, we have an opportunity to listen to our many constituents and revisit things we’ve long accepted, including things like our Mission Statement. Our strategic plan, when it is completed, is also an overarching communication to our community about who we are, where we are going, and when we will get there. It allows us to be open and transparent about what we plan to do and when. That sets the foundation for us all when the community asks, “Have we ever thought about x” or “What does Medford do about Y.” It will allow us to say Yes, we have thought about X, and we plan to execute that in 20xx because before we can get to that, we need to do A, B, and C. Perhaps most importantly, it guides our spending choices so we can spend wisely. We can have a real dialogue about the resources we need to execute the plan, accelerate certain parts, or add new ideas to it. I’m excited to be the chair of the Engagement, Communication, & Strategic Planning subcommittee as we embark on this effort. Last year I shared some thoughts about my experience with strategic planning that can be found here.


The Committee passed a motion to move the draft Strategic Plan to the Engagement, Communication, & Strategic Planning subcommittee for an in-depth look at the work to date and discussion about our strategic planning process moving forward.


Other Updates:

  • The School Committee joined Medford’s City Council in a pledge to make Medford hunger-free by January 1st, 2028. In doing so, we also vote unanimously to create an advisory committee to assist us with recommendations to help achieve the goal.

  • The School Committee supported a resolution to support the Healthy Youth Act H.410. This act has been passed by the Massachusetts Senate already. The resolution urges the Massachusetts House of Representatives to bring this bill to a vote. Here is a relevant excerpt from the bill: “Each city, town, regional school district, vocational school district or charter school that offers sexual health education shall utilize a research-informed curriculum that offers medically accurate, age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual health education. Sexual health education shall be appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and shall include, but not be limited to, teaching: (i) physical, social, and emotional changes of human development; (ii) human anatomy, reproduction, and sexual development; (iii) the benefits of abstinence and delaying sexual activity and the prevention sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, and unintended pregnancy, including the effective use of contraceptives and barrier methods and the options for pregnancy, including parenting, adoption, and abortion; (iv) ways to effectively discuss safe sexual activity; (v) relationship and communication skills to form healthy, respectful relationships free of violence, coercion, and intimidation and to make healthy decisions about relationships and sexuality, including affirmative and voluntary consent to engage in physical or sexual activity, and skills to recognize and prevent dating violence; and (vi) age-appropriate information about gender identity and sexual orientation for all students, including affirmative recognition that people have different sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, and information about resources that offer support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students. Comprehensive sexual health education shall incorporate opportunities for students to analyze societal and media messages.” The bill also affords districts the option to NOT teach sex education at all, and provide parents the option to opt-out of sex education.


If you are in support of this bill, please reach out to your representative. Three different individuals in the House represent Medford.

  • Mr. Paul Donato - Paul.Donato@mahouse.gov

  • Mr. Sean Garballey - Sean.Garballey@mahouse.gov

  • Ms. Christine Barber - Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov


Upcoming meetings and Subcommittee work

The School Committee confirmed its assignments for 6 subcommittees. The committees are listed here.

  • Rules, Policy & Equity: Paul Ruseau- Chair, Melanie McLaughlin, Jenny Graham

  • Engagement, Communication, & Strategic Planning: Jenny Graham– Chair, Kathy Kreatz, Melanie McLaughlin

  • Curriculum: Paulette Van der Kloot – Chair, Jenny Graham, Mea Mustone

  • Behavioral Health, Special Ed & Pupil Services: Melanie McLauglin – Chair, Paul Ruseau, Mea Mustone

  • Personnel & Budget: Mea Mustone - Chair, Paulette Van der Kloot, Kathy Kreatz

  • Building & Grounds: Kathy Kreatz – Chair, Paul Ruseau, Paulette Van der Kloot


Look for upcoming meetings to be scheduled based on motions passed during the meeting, which include:


The Rules, Policy, & Equity committee was referred the following:

  • Development of guidelines for requesting ad hoc reports

  • Development of a standard reporting package from the administration to the School Committee

The Engagement, Communication, & Strategic Planning subcommittee was referred the following:

  • Kindergarten orientation practices review

  • Middle School onboarding practices review

  • Strategic plan next steps

Committee of the Whole to review all positions not currently receiving state minimum wage of $12.75 per hour. Important note: MPS is exempted from minimum wage laws in some instances. The Committee plans to examine this based on issues raised by our high school students working in the after school program.


Curriculum Subcommittee

The curriculum subcommittee met on February 5th to discuss the implementation of Enhanced Core Reading Instruction (ECRI) and discuss future subcommittee meetings. The team presenting included Superintendent Edouard-Vincent, Associate Superintendent Diane Caldwell, Director of Humanities Dr. Nicole Chiesa, Dr. Bernadette Ricciardelli, Columbus teacher Kristen Howell, and Special Education Coordinator Kathleen Ciampoli.


Before we dive into ECRI, a little bit of context may be helpful. During the discussion, the team noted that at the elementary level, curriculum changes have to be carefully sequenced. Our elementary teachers teach all subjects. Currently, the elementary teachers are in the first full year of implementation of our FOSS science curriculum, and there are plans on the horizon to implement a new Mathematics program as well. While we may ultimately want to pursue a full program review of our current Journeys English Language Arts program, we wouldn’t plan to implement a new ELA curriculum until the 2022/2023 academic year.


The district has been actively working to address the new guidance provided by DESE, and they outlined plans to hold a half day of professional development on ECRI in March. You may recall that on October 19th, 2018, Governor Baker signed into law a bill to direct DESE to issue guidelines to assist school districts in developing screening procedures for dyslexia. Medford is piloting several assessments in collaboration with DESE that are valid and reliable, scientifically based, brief, administered three times a year, and had the inclusion of Code and Meaning based and/or Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) assessments.


Back to ECRI. ECRI will help us move beyond screening in the short term. It will bolster our current curriculum and provide additional support to our teachers and students. Our team plans to install this additional support through professional development in March and next year.


We also spoke about topics for future subcommittee meetings around cataloging our various curricula to provide the School Committee meaningful planning data. Purchasing a new curriculum is expensive, and the path to implementation requires careful planning.


Your call to action: Call your legislators to support the Healthy Youth Act! Join me at my next office hours at Salvatores on 2/23 at 7 pm. I welcome your input in general, and as we get ready for our first budget hearings on 2/24. The 2/24 budget hearings include the following departments which will present their budget requests for the next school year: Guidance, English Language Arts, Social Studies, Mathematics, and World Language. Please also share this blog with friends and neighbors who want to be informed about our schools. Subscribing to the newsletter will ensure you receive these updates as I post them.

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© 2019 by  Committee to Elect Jenny Graham