School Committee Meeting 05 April 2017
7 Members Present, Student representative: Cole Conlin
Spotlight on Excellence & Permissions to Enter.
- Science and Engineering Fair.
- Bartlett Community Partnership School
- LHS Ice Hockey Team
Public Hearing for Interdistrict Choice: No comments from the public. 2016-17 had 30 open slots, 15 were filled. Decision to continue the School Choice decision is made annually. Motion to recommend continued participation for grades 9-12 (30 students within grades 9-12). 7 yeas approved.
There were 8 new motions presented tonight:
- 7.I. [By Robert Gigac]: Request the Superintendent work with the City Administration to develop a plan and/or update on the capital improvement funds that were allocated for the schools. City RFP process, repairs that were determined will proceed in May. Mr. Gignac requests looking into roof repairs and AC/Boiler repairs. Motion passes.
- 7.II. [By Connie Martin]: Requesting an update on the plan for recruiting and hiring a new Head of School for Lowell High School, including a proposed timeline for assembling the interviewing committee and any public sessions that will be part of the process.
Registered Jonathan Richmond. Begins by speaking about LRTA passes and then proceeds to enumerate his thoughts concerning the hiring requirements and qualifications for new Head of School. Registered speaker Daniel Ouk speaks about suggestions for chosing LHS Head of School.
In my opinion, the acrimonious and abrasive nature of this segment of the meeting was unnecessary and distracting from the importance of the process of selecting a new LHS Head of School. It is worth viewing this for yourself on LTC’s posting of the meeting video when that occurs. Move about 40 minutes in to the video to view this for yourself.
Ms. Martin questions the process and the timeline. Superintendent Khelfaoui clarifies that there is a plan and a timeline and that the taskforce is in process. Should a person be interested in becoming part of this taskforce (approximately 15 members), that person should apply via email or snail mail to either Superintendent Khelfaoui or Anne Sheehy, Director of Human Resources, Personnel & Recruitment. Ms. Doherty is absolutely on point in suggesting the importance of including stakeholders representative of the population of Lowell High School in the taskforce.
- 7.III. [By Steve Gendron] Request the Superintendent form a task force to interview Lowell High School Head of School applicants.
- 7.IV. [By Connie Martin] Requesting an update on the staff plans for Principals and Assistant Principals for the fy17 and fy18.
- 7.V [By Jacqueline Doherty] Request the Superintendent provide the committee with the DESE School Climate Survey along with recommendations as to whether we should implement the survey or some other instrument. The recommendations should also include timelines for beginning to collect baseline data about school climate, family involvement, or other aspects that address the education of the whole child.
Mitchell Chester (DESE Commissioner) has announced (link here) that, following MCAS 2.0 testing this year, students in Grades 5, 8, and 10 will be asked to complete a survey about school climate. DESE claims that the results will not be disaggregated nor used in any significant manner, so my question is WHY subject students to this “optional” survey right after the completion of a high-stakes and draining academic test? According the Dr. Chester’s update, parents and students can refuse to complete the survey; in fact, some entire districts have already decided not to administer this DESE survey. It doesn’t sound like LPS is going to do that. Also, according to DESE’s update reference above, parents can request that principals and/or superintendent show the survey questions to them.
What was confusing throughout the discussion is that Lowell Public Schools is part of a consortium of school districts developing a more thorough and valid survey of community education stakeholders that will hopefully become part of a more thorough and thoughtful analysis of the public school system. This consortium survey is in draft form and not yet ready for administration to student from what I understand.
- 7.VI [By Steve Gendron] Request the Superintendent work with the City and the LRTA to develop a program to provide free bus passes to Lowell High School students based on financial need.
- 7.VII [By Connie Martin] Requesting that the administration provide the committee with an update on plans to accommodate the middle school bubble for the FY17-18 school year.
- 7.VIII [By Robert J. Hoey] Request Superintendent conduct a review of safety and security in our schools.
Joint Finance and Student Support Services Subcommittee report on meeting 3/29/17. John Descoteaux presented a draft plan for a 5-zone system (eliminating city-wide). The current desegregation order would stay in place. The issue is complicated by costs for busing (the Cawley option for LHS would need 26 additional buses or a projected $3.2 million plus additional amounts for future years). Start/dismissal times would need adjustment as well. The endeavor needs further study, which was the recommendation from the subcommittees. Mayor Kennedy notes the cost of busing is going to increase substantially over time and that some of the proposed zones will be unfair to 2 neighborhoods. The K-8 model being proposed to accommodate a 5-zone system will necessitate additional teachers. Mayor Kennedy supports a more thorough look at how the schools provide transportation in order to potentially increase efficiency. Motion to accept.
There were 3 Reports from the Superintendent and 2 items under New Business:
- Report: Tutoring Services offered by Dharma Center
- Report: Community Service Update
- Report: Quarterly Report on Motions
- New Business: Interdistrict Choice (Voted on previously)
- New Business: Farm to School Research Project
For anyone looking for the full meeting packet and agenda, please navigate to the City of Lowell’s Agenda/Minutes website.