Jenny's Recap of the September 9th School Committee Meeting
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
The first School Committee meeting of the fiscal year was held Monday night. Superintendent Dr. Edouard-Vincent highlighted key staffing changes including:
New to the District:
Dr. Peter Cushing, Asst. Superintendent
Julia MacEwan - Asst. Principal at Andrews Middle School
Lisa Kingsley - Principal of Curtis Tufts School
Promoted from within the District:
Joan Bowen - Director of Special Services
Alice Beth Fitzpatrick - Asst. Director of CTE programs
Maureen Lavin - Temporary Director of Guidance
Lisa Ianelli - Coordinator of Secondary Special Education
Lauren Perillo - Coordinator of Special Education at Columbus, McGlynn, and Andrews
Summer Activities around the District
Dr. Edouard-Vincent recognized a number of partnerships with local businesses who played a critical role in back to school activities. Sponsors included Hallmark Health, Armstrong Ambulance, WB Mason, and Joseph’s Transportation. Additionally, Wegmans and Agero donated 200 backpacks with supplies that were distributed within the district. She also highlighted the Middle Schools orientation barbeque held in collaboration with the Middle School PTOs and the Summer Graduation at Medford High.
Diane Caldwell, Associate Superintendent, provided an update on Administrator’s Week, which included updates regarding teacher and administrator evaluation tools. Dr. Bernadette Ricadelli provided a summary of New Educator Orientation, which welcomed 48 new educators to our district.
Kirsteen Patterson, the Assistant Superintendent of Administration and Finance, discussed the rollout of a new hiring platform that automates the recruiting process. It can also provide demographics in real time to assess who is applying for jobs in Medford. There were some questions of the Committee about the larger employee life cycle. Ms. Patterson clarified that it cannot provide an end to end view of the employee lifecycle which typically includes termination, leave of absence, and resignation. This kind of report still has to be done manually in our district.
Dr. Peter Cushing, Assistant Superintendent noted that we had 120 campers participate in Medford’s Summer Fun camp. Air conditioning issues existed at the camp as in years past but Dr. Cushing reported that 28 FT/PT employees worked creatively to ensure the safety of our students. 114 students from grades 6-12 also participated in Summer School.
John McLaughlin from Buildings and Grounds provided a detailed report of summer work.
Brooks - New air compressors, all rugs cleaned, gym floors revarnished and a collaboration with the Forestry Department to remove the birds living in the vents. My 5th grader will be pleased about this last note!
Columbus - Roof maintenance, new air compressors, gym floors revarnished. They are in the process of adding a sump pump to address moisture issues coming up in one particular office.
Mcglynn - Roof maintenance, installation of a new slide, gym floor revarnishing of the large gym
- In process: Granite curbing installation, revarnishing the small gym floor, and
replacement of seats and upholstery in the theater
Roberts - New air compressors, all rugs cleaned and gym floors revarnished
Curtis Tufts - floors re-varnished
High school - tree trimming to address security concerns, exterior landscaping, and re-mulching of the kid’s area in the west courtyard
All Co2 detectors across the district were tested and meet standards.
The Committee asked that all rugs be cleaned and more painting happen at Curtis Tufts. John will work to accomplish this.
There were questions about the playgrounds and other items in the capital plan which I’ll discuss in a post next week. The district applied for CPA grants to replace playground surfaces at the 3 elementary schools where that work remains to be done (Brooks, Columbus, and McGlynn).
Early School Year Updates
So far this year, the Medford Family Information Center has registered 115 PreK, 288 Kindergarteners (14 additional are awaiting medical clearance) and 80 new English Language Learners. A report was provided to the Committee about enrollment across the district. The Committee requested that when our enrollment numbers are officially submitted to DESE in October (this number is used to determine school funding etc), that we add information about other students including charters and private schools to understand the full complement of children living in Medford. In the case of charter schools though, enrollment isn’t available until June, which as you may recall contributed to the funding issues the district faced in the spring which seemed to pop up so suddenly. Kirsteen Patterson noted that her office is working to ensure that charter students are correctly classified and that we are not paying charter schools for students who aren’t actively enrolled.
Dr. Edouard-Vincent noted that Middle school sports tryouts for Cross Country, Baseball, and Softball are underway as part of the Greater Boston League with Malden, Everett, Somerville, and Revere. She also talked about the efforts to balance the middle schools. Last year, a lottery was instituted and the results show that it was successful in equalizing the sixth grade school population. For me, I look forward to better and more cohesive communication and a more proactive timeline this year as we go into year 2 of this new format. I also would like to see the district convene a special committee to review the 2 middle school format, identify our goals as a district for the middle school experience, and outline the building implications of those changes. I talk a bit about this effort in my answers to the Medford Votes questionnaire.
She recognized Joseph Farra, a 2017 Undergraduate of UMass Boston who was the only undergraduate on the 340+ person collaboration that took the first image of a black hole. She noted that he is now sharing in a $3M breakthrough prize. The School Committee plans to reach out to Joseph to invite him back to Medford.
The Committee voted to accept the donation of a 25 unit Chromebook cart to the McGlynn Middle School from Impact Church. Impact Church also hosted a welcome back luncheon at McGlynn Middle School.
There was a discussion about the district's plan to address dyslexia dysgraphia and dyscalculia. In the spring, the district’s plans around screening were the subject of much discussion. At that meeting on May 6th, Dr. Nadine Gaab from Tufts provided an enlightening report of best practices and a parent and friend of mine shared her own struggles with her son’s reading journey. The minutes from the meeting show that Dr. Nicole Chiesa the Director of Humanities noted that “The Dyslexia Screening Law requires that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in conjunction with the Department of Early Education and Care develop guidelines to assist schools in developing screening procedures or protocols for students with reading disabilities. She also said that the district is awaiting those guidelines from DESE.” The meeting minutes are available here. Dr. Chiesa also noted that the district planned to purchase and implement the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen tool. After discussion at that meeting, the Committee asked whether this tool is recommended and Dr. Gaab noted it is not recommended. The Committee did not agree to the purchase.
The district did write a grant to be accepted into a pilot program in coordination with DESE. The MAP tool is being piloted at the Columbus only based on the grant. The results, along with those from 20 communities will be used as input to the DESE guidelines. We don’t expect those guidelines for at least one year. Several teachers will participate in training this fall as well with the hopes that we will be able to leverage a train the trainer model.
A representative from M3 Outdoor Adventures OktoberFells Trail Race & Festival spoke about plans for their upcoming event held at the high school complex. The Committee approved the request for a 1 day liquor license as well.
Paul Ruseau was nominated to attend the MASC conference and Paulette VanderKloot was nominated as an alternate.
The November 4, 2019 meeting is canceled.
Today’s call to action: Look for my updates about the Buildings and Grounds subcommittee meeting on 9/11/19. The meeting was short and action packed.