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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

School Committee Notes Provide the Big Picture

January 3, 2017
The recording was unable to be heard online so I could not listen to this meeting. I will look forward to reading the notes once they are published.

December 19th Meeting
As I listen to the school committee meetings online to learn about our systemwide issues and news, I am learning about good process and the large number of events that influence the daily workings of a school system.

The 12/19 meeting included an executive session which is not recorded focused on upcoming contract negotiations. The meeting also included a lengthy discussion about where to park the school busses. It seemed like there was a very thoughtful and comprehensive approach taken with regard to discovering potential parking spots for the vehicles. There was also discussion about capital projects noting that recent projects came in at about $200,000 under budget which was welcomed news.

I plan to continue to watch the meetings as they arise. As I watch I'll cull facts, figures, and updates that affect the work I do in the classroom and work I do as an employee of the system and union representative. I continue to be impressed by the dedication, process, and information displayed at these meetings, and believe that they help to well inform the public about the decision making process related to the schools.

December 12th Meeting
I listened to the online 12/12 school committee meeting. I must say that I can't believe how much they cover in the matter of several hours. It's amazing as well as evidence of substantial commitment on behalf of the committee members.

I believe it's important for educators to keep abreast of the bigger issues that are ongoing in the system where they teach. Here's a few bullets about the meeting. If you want the details, here's the link to watch the meeting.

2017 Budget
Tonight one key topic was the budget presentation. It was very interesting to hear the superintendent's very thoughtful and well organized report. As I listened to the number of items that were recommended, I found myself assessing the idea's worth related to my experience as an educator and parent. I also found myself trying to answer a citizen's question about what would you take away in order to add other items. The school committee entertained a number of good questions too related to the budget. There will be a number of presentations to community members. This page lists the details for one of the presentations. The PTOs are also hosting budget presentations including this Middle School presentation and presentations for the elementary schools and the high school (I believe).

Professional Learning and Teaching 
Later Dr. Stein mentioned three wonderful professional learning events including an executive function talk at the high school, the METCO's Director's conference which featured wonderful break-out sessions and an inspiring talk by Cornell West (I hope there's a video of that I can watch), and the administrator's participation in a digital leadership course. It would be interesting to hear more details about all three of these events as I'm sure there was terrific information that would benefit everyone's practice. Dr. Stein also made a presentation related to K-12 reading and book groups.

Superintendent Search
Another topic that took priority was the superintendent search. There has been a lot of work done in this regard and there was a lot of discussion about the screening committee, survey, and process timeline. I saw this advertised in the local enews report. There was mention that there will be educator representation in this process, but I was unsure of the specifics related to this as I listened, but later in the evening I received notice of a time that teachers can meet to discuss their interest with regard to this process:

Peer Towns
They discussed peer towns using models and geography. They came up with a list of towns that they are going to discuss about at a later meeting. They took Belmont off the list and they added Bedford to the list. The rest stayed the same, but I haven't seen the list. It was mentioned that Wayland does very well in relation to what they offer.

Security Cameras
They will place security cameras at the schools. The money comes from parking, building use, and Base Program surplus funds. Dr. Stein felt that the public should be notified that these cameras will be put in.

Policy Update
This information is available via the School Committee website.

Next Meeting 12/19
Joint executive meeting to discuss negotiations.

Executive Session
Executive session was focused on negotiations, and this is not public due to the fact that it could affect bargaining positions.