Jenny's Recap of the June 15th, 2020 School Committee Meeting
The nineteenth School Committee meeting of the academic year was held on June 15, 2020.
Superintendent Edouard-Vincent’s Updates
Dr. Edouard-Vincent provided comments recapping the events of the past few weeks, including a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally at Hormel Stadium, a MHS parade to celebrate our seniors, and the celebration of Father’s Day. Additional updates include:
The Behavioral Health and Special Education Subcommittee held a listening session on June 11. They provided an update that included ideas to establish a Best Buddies program here in Medford and to pursue adaptive sports and inclusive programming
The Buildings and Grounds subcommittee provided an update from their meeting. We reviewed and approved plans to start an Alumni Brick project to be installed at Medford High School. They also reviewed plans to hold summer and fall cleanups with the committee.
The Superintendent introduced Shannon Demos as the newest principal at Brooks Elementary School. She will be replacing Suzanne Galusi on July 1. Shannon has been the Assistant Principal at Brooks for two years now. Congratulations to Shannon!
Dr. Cushing provided a brief enrollment update as of June 15. Kindergarten registration was on par with years past, while registration of older students is lagging. All registrations can now be performed online.
Budget and Funding Updates
Dr. Edouard-Vincent provided a community update regarding staffing cuts due to the budget shortfall of $3.5 Million for the 2020-2021 school year. On June 15, 111 educators received pink slips from the district. The Superintendent shared that many of these educators will be called back, but the uncertainty of the budget required that all our teachers with pre-professional status were notified by June 15 under the union contract. The callback process will begin shortly and will likely continue throughout the summer.
We approved our submission to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding how we will spend money allocated to Medford from the Student Opportunity Act. Under the Act, Medford will receive $138,600 for the 2020-2021 school year. It is important to note that this funding is tied to the state budget process, and no input about whether this funding will be available has been provided at this time. Regardless, DESE required plans from all districts. We will use the funding to increase professional development in the areas of literacy and cultural proficiency. We will also use the funding to support bilingual family liaisons on a part-time basis.
We signed a resolution to request the Commonwealth ensure full reimbursement for whatever COVID-19 expenses are required to follow state mandates as schools re-open. Full reimbursement is such a critical requirement for Medford, and many cities and towns. The shortfall we already face in our budget is severe and additional expenses to ensure the safe re-opening of school need to be reimbursed so that we can ensure a statewide school re-opening that is safe, responsible, and equitable.
Equity in our Schools
Superintendent Edouard-Vincent announced the formation of a Racial Equity Task Force. The task force will be a collaborative effort of students, faculty, parents, administrators, and city staff. Beginning in August 2020, the goal will be to develop a strategic and coordinated approach to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion in our district.
We voted unanimously to change the name of our leader at Medford High School from Headmaster to Principal. The term Headmaster is being challenged in various institutions across the country due to its connections to slavery.
We voted unanimously to ask the curriculum subcommittee to identify an anti-racism curriculum at all levels that include the history of systemic, institutional, and interpersonal racism and white supremacy in the United States.
We voted to rename the Columbus school in a vote of 6-1. During the meeting, we heard more than 2 hours of public comment on the matter from residents across the city that included alumni, parents, and students. This decision was and will continue to be a very charged topic in our community. I am committed to the name change. I will work to ensure that the advisory committee reflects the diversity that makes our city so unique, that it creates opportunities for community engagement, and that first and foremost we look to our current students to help us do this work. Medford has created many ways for students to be leaders of change in the community, and I will be advocating that we allow our future to lead us in the present on this matter. It is important to note that this vote and the resolution included the following:
We will rename the Columbus School.
We will establish an advisory committee with a 6-month term to recommend a new name no later than February 1, 2021.
We will meet before September 1 to establish the specific elements regarding the scope and work of the advisory committee per our rules.
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Jenny Graham is a member of the Medford School Committee. This blog represents her thoughts on issues of interest and does not reflect any official position of the City of Medford or the Medford School Committee. Meeting minutes, which are the public record of all meetings can be found here. Full recordings of meetings of the School Committee can be found here.