Jenny's Recap of the December 16th School Committee Meeting
The seventh School Committee meeting of the academic year was held on December 16, 2019. This meeting is the last of the calendar year and the current term of the School Committee. The meeting was brief and covered the following topics.
Veterans Day Program
Dr. Nicole Chiesa provided a report of the Veterans Day program she organized in collaboration with Medford’s Office of Veterans Services. Dr. Chiesa and Michael Durham, the City’s Director of Veterans Services, hosted the 19th annual event, which included Veteran visits to Medford High classrooms and a display of war memorabilia presented by Medford Vocational High School graduate, Noah Kreatz.
Universal Free Breakfast
Assistant Superintendent Kirsteen Patterson provided an update on the pilot of the Provision 2 Free Breakfast program. Provision 2 seeks to increase participation, streamline meal service, and reduce administrative work.
“Provision 2 is an option for schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to reduce paperwork, simplify the logistics of operating school meals programs, and offer meals at no charge to all students. Any school that participates in either or both school meal programs may opt for Provision 2. Schools using Provision 2 do not have to collect, process, or verify school meal applications or keep track of meals served by fee category (free, reduced-price, and paid) for at least three out of every four years. Provision 2 schools have the option to serve only breakfast or lunch, or both breakfast and lunch, to all students at no charge — and use economies of scale from increased participation and significant administrative saving” (Source and a helpful explanation of the program here.)
This program in Medford provides free breakfast to all students BEFORE the bell. Columbus Elementary School continued its breakfast after the bell program during this time but provided an option for 5th graders to eat before the bell. Asst. Superintendent Patterson noted that during the pilot, the Food Service team worked tirelessly to make families aware of the option and expand offerings to include hot breakfast.
She presented data on meal counts during the pilot for September, October, and November across all schools. Breakfasts served during the three-month pilot increased by 6,029 meals over the same period in 2018. Nearly every building increased the number of breakfasts served. The School Committee voted to continue the program for the remainder of the school year and noted that there might be additional funding requirements at the end of the year based on the data collected through the school year. Year 1 of the program establishes how the district will be reimbursed in future years.
Recognition and Reflection
The Special Education Subcommittee thanked their outgoing Chairwoman, Erin DiBenedetto, for her passion and commitment.
The School Committee recognized Medford’s state delegation, including Senator Pat Jehlen, Representative Paul Donato, Representative Christine Barber, and Representative Sean Garballey. All were instrumental in the passage of the Student Opportunity Act, which was signed into law on November 26, 2019. The bill represents a massive $1.5 billion investment in education that will benefit cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Senator Jehlen and the rest of the delegation thanked the School Committee, parents, teachers, and students for holding the legislature accountable so that this long-overdue bill could become a reality. The School Committee presented each member of the delegation with an engraved bell and thanked them for their hard work.
Superintendent Edouard-Vincent, Member Kathy Kreatz, Member Mea Mustone, Member Paul Ruseau, and Member Paulette VanderKloot recognized and thanked outgoing members of the School Committee, including Mayor Stephanie Burke, Member Erin DiBenedetto, and Member Michael Ruggiero. Each talked about the notable contributions of the outgoing members of the Committee and their dedication to Medford’s students.
Our state delegation also thanked Mayor Stephanie Burke, Member Erin DiBenedetto, and Member Michael Ruggiero for their service and commitment to Medford’s children and families.
The next meeting of the School Committee will be held on Monday, January 6, 2020. I am thrilled to be taking an official seat on the Committee and to serve all of Medford’s children. There is much to learn, and I’m already working hard to get up to speed.
None of us does this alone. A huge thank you to the current members of the School Committee who have already spent their time during this busy season to help get me up to speed. Thank you to those who have already reached out to meet regarding concerns that matter to them, including recess, field trip equity, and how we support learners of all abilities.
I will continue to keep you informed through this blog as I transition into a seat on the committee and will also work to proactively alert people when topics that matter to them are on the agenda. During the campaign, I committed to holding regular reviews of the upcoming issues.
Sending you and your family the warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year!
Your call to action: If you are passionate about a particular issue or interested in participating in meeting preparation with me, please reach out. 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.