Jenny's Recap of the October 6th School Committee Meeting
Updated: Oct 21, 2019
The third School Committee meeting of the academic year was held on October 6th, immediately following the MCAS results meeting. Read about that meeting here.
Superintendent Edouard-Vincent provided a brief report of notable happenings across the district including:
Our high school Italian students enjoyed the opera Pagliacci, performed in Italian. The opera immersed students in cultural enrichment and the language itself.
Our middle school sports teams all have winning records in this inaugural year.
McGlynn Elementary School third-graders received dictionaries from the Rotary Club.
The Kiwanis made donations to Medford High Cheerleaders, CCSR, and MPS Athletics. Their continued generosity was acknowledged.
McGlynn 8th graders toured Tufts University.
Free breakfast for all students continues.
Math Learning Walks will begin in October at all schools to review Math Instructional practices across the district. These walks will help collect baseline data for use in the spring to measure changes and improvement.
She noted that Andrews Middle school participated in a PFLAG assembly. This assembly was made possible by a grant approved at the last School Committee meeting. The organization is committed to working with schools to create a safe environment for all, reducing bullying and providing resources for our LGBTQ community. The assembly will be rolled out at McGlynn Middle and Medford High next.
“PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed” - www.pflag.org. Check out the website if you are interested in learning more about the organization’s mission.
She also reported that Stacey Mulligan, Assistant Principal at Medford High, is serving as the head of Diversity and Inclusion for our District this year. She is working toward several goals, including professional development training on implicit bias and cultural awareness proficiency. She is organizing a 4 part symposium on race and education. Finally, she has started an ALANA chapter at MPS. ALANA stands for African, Latin American, Asian, Native American, and Allies. The goal of the Chapter is to encourage career advancement and, ultimately, attract educators as diverse as our schools.
The Committee approved a field trip to Argentina, which will include an excursion to the beautiful Iguazu Falls.
A report was given of the Rules Subcommittee meeting held on October 1st to discuss the Attendance Policy. You may recall that in the last meeting, the Committee agreed to review this policy based on discussions around the district’s handling of absences for students attending the Climate Strike back in September.
When I looked for the specific policy on the MPS website, it was quite different than the policy being discussed relative to the High School and the Climate Strike. In fact, many documents talk about attendance. Attendance is not handled universally today, and it should be. The Rules subcommittee will be working to change that and will draft a single policy for the district. The policy will reside on the MPS website when completed. School handbooks will include a particular procedure for handling attendance, and those procedures will align with the overarching policy. The elementary schools presently have the same procedure, but there is not yet alignment at the middle school level.
The subcommittee also agreed that it would immediately strike the portion of the high school policy which excludes students from all weekend activities based on a Friday absence. Instead, participation will be at the discretion of the coach.
The subcommittee has acknowledged that there are many policies listed on our website that are dated. Work began last spring to make updates and will continue this school year. In the future, I hope that the policy review process will be scheduled at regular intervals so that ongoing maintenance can prevent the need for a complete re-write of our policies. Maintenance matters, even if we are talking about policies!
Stacey Shulman and Medford Police Chief Buckley provided an update of an exciting new collaboration between MPS and the Medford Police Department. They have created a plan to engage our police officers in our schools in various ways that promote social-emotional wellness of our students. The goal is to create an environment where police presence is viewed as a positive thing. In the K-5 arena, the program will begin with officers, who have been trained by Ms. Shulman, to read to our students. The reading selections are carefully curated and aimed at promoting good decision-making and social-emotional wellness. All books were made possible through a grant. In each school, students will have an opportunity to earn lunches with officers as well! The goal is to expand the program through all schools.
I was most excited to hear Medford is replacing the D.A.R.E program with an evidence-based program, the Michigan Model. The new program aligns with our broader social-emotional curriculum. You may all remember D.A.R.E., like I do, from when we were in school. D.A.R.E was focused on drug abuse prevention but is scientifically no more likely to prevent substance abuse than in students who didn’t take the program. I am happy that Medford is moving to a curriculum that focuses on good decision making.
Both Ms. Shulman and Chief Buckley noted the excitement of the team and the collaboration through Team Medford. Team Medford is an initiative of the Medford Health Department. Team Medford's mission is to provide information and support to existing systems in the Medford community, such as families, schools, police, businesses, hospitals, and other organizations serving Medford to take action around issues that affect the health of the community and its people.
Buildings and Grounds Update
John McLaughlin provided an update of work across the District Security Committee, which focuses on regular review of our district protocols and opportunities. He noted that for the safety of our students and staff, many of the things that the group works on cannot be discussed publicly. He did discuss reviews to implement a new two-way radio system and an app at the high school aimed at encouraging reporting of issues across the building. The app will promote a “See Something Say Something” mentality in the high school building. The group is aware that the app will bring a wide variety of issues forward and is working on plans to staff and address concerns promptly. He also noted that the group is reviewing possible parking expansions at the high school, which are needed primarily during busy weekends.
There was also a motion to consider hiring the Security Director that has been previously discussed. Initially, the goal was to share a position with the city, but the City Council didn't approve that shared position. This motion will direct the School Committee to consider a new position when creating the 2020-2021 budget in the spring. The motion passed.
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