07 September 2016: School Committee Meeting

IMG_0794School Committee Meeting, 7 August 2016

6 present, Ms. Martin Absent

Tonight’s meeting, the first after the start of the academic year, is the beginning of the regular twice-a-month meeting schedule.  The agenda was short and to the point – under 1 hour. Some of the Superintendent’s remarks were lost due to a faulty microphone. However, from what I could surmise, the topic will be revisited at a future meeting.  

Permissions to Enter

Contracts for both Deputy Superintendent Jeannine Durkin and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Robin Desmond were approved.  $56,000 to SEEN collaborative for out-of-district Special Education service was also approved.

Public Participation

Jonathan Richmond,  Chief Executive and Founder of the charitable organization Takeoff Space spoke to the School Committee regarding the decision process and communication resulting from a proposal he had brought to Lowell High administration, and ultimately, to the School Committee. The program, Takeoff Space, is meant to encourage and mentor top performing disadvantaged students to matriculate to top tier colleges. Mr. Richmond formally registered a complaint that his program was dismissed without due consideration. The High School made the decision not to participate in Mr. Richmond’s program because this need was being addressed through another previously established initiative.

Subcommittee Reports:

  1. Facilities Subcommittee: Approval of Meeting of August 11, 2016. The content had be discussed at the August 17 meeting. Minutes accepted as report of progress.
  2. Finance Subcommittee:  3 topics were on the agenda:
    1. Fiscal 2016 year end financials (including Apple hardware purchases and transfers to make up for loss of state funding for Kindergarten grant (paraprofessionals))
    2. Schedule/timeline for independent audit
    3. Fiscal 2017 year to date financials.  A motion was made and approved to develop a timeline for dealing with year-end surpluses so that the School Committee can decide how to allocate such funds.

3.  Lowell High Subcommittee meeting to discuss 4 motions by Mayor Kennedy.

Reports of the Superintendent

There were 12 reports from the Superintendent in response to requests and motions.  Two of these prompted short discussion:

2016/338 Lowell High School Graduates Attending College.  During this report, most of the discussion could not be heard because of a faulty microphone.  The District provided a report stating that 83.5% of Lowell High graduates are attending either a 2-year or 4-year college this Fall.  That compares favorably across the state.  The Committee had a couple of lingering questions. One of these was the data presented show that many students are attending either a 2-year school such as Middlesex Community College or a state 4-year college (University of Lowell).  There was a question from Ms. Doherty as to whether students are receiving sufficient guidance and encouragement to apply for “reach” schools, such as the Ivy Leagues.

I attended state schools through post-masters work and have never for one moment thought that I didn’t get a superior education. It was “on me” to take advantage of classes and study, the value of my degrees came from the hard work I put into school, not from the name on the front gate. I also understand, on a parental level, what a financial burden attending a private university poses. Attending post-high school is a decision that only the student and his/her family can make, and while I would hope that Lowell High students are given information about grants and opportunities to attend their school of choice, I would hope the value of a public college or university will not be lost.

2016/346 Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan Revision. There has been significant revision to this plan due to new regulations implemented by the Commonwealth. One new feature is that the incident report will be available online and includes drop-down selections which will make reporting more efficient.  Ms. Doherty suggested that some clarification is needed regarding the timeline of responses. The Plan was approved and changes to include more precise language will be added at the next meeting.

New Business

There were four items under New Business:

  • 2016/340: Permission to Post: PALS Program Head Coach. As explained by Ms. Durkin, the PALS program is funded through the university. University students provide mentor support for high school students.
  • 2016/341 Permission to Post: Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) Data Manager
  • 2016/342 Permission to Post: PALS Program Assistant Head Coach
  • 2016/353 Approval of a Study Grant

All passed.

There was no Executive Session and the meeting adjourned at 7:27 pm (noted by Mayor Kennedy). Meeting Packet can be found here.

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