Thursday, January 22, 2015

Delivery & Content

Contents of this month's Board Book Mailing
(photo credit: mas)
Two weekends before a Regular Board of ESE Meeting, I receive a UPS delivery of the Board Meeting Book.

The delivery also contains a packet of any mail sent to me c/o the Department in Malden.

Since my first meeting in September, the Board Book has varied in size from 1" to 2.5". This month, as we enter "Charter School Season", the contents of my delivery included a 3.5" Book, replete with anticipated agenda, back up, reports, and recommendations relevant for discussion and/or action at the Special Meeting (Monday, January 26) and the Regular Meeting (Tuesday, January 27), and four pieces of mail.

Some Charter materials have been distributed electronically. Items in the Book pertaining to Charters this month include:
  • Information on (4) New Charter Applicants (for initial discussion). By statute the Board votes approval of new charter schools at its February meeting. In November 2014, the Department received final applications to establish four charter schools. The Department provided an overview of the process for reviewing and granting new charters and a summary of the charter applications that are pending.
  • Proposed Amendments for UP Academy Boston Charter School, Salem Academy Charter School, Hampden Charter School of Science, and KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School (discussion and vote)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence: Report on Conditions and Commissioner's Recommendation for Probation (discussion and vote)
  • Boston Renaissance Charter Public School: Report on Probation and Commissioner's Recommendation for Renewal (discussion and vote)

It's a lot of reading, to be sure. Presentations will be distributed at the Special and Regular Meetings, too, and there is room for them in the Book. Several Tabs do not have material (Minutes of the December Board Meetings, State Graduation and Dropout Results for 2013-14, Update on PARCC, i.e.), which I find most challenging; it is difficult to bring intelligent discussion to the table when materials are distributed the night before the meeting, or, at the meeting.

The four pieces of mail that were forwarded by the Department are:
  • Season's Greetings from the Nashoba Valley Technical High School Committee, Administration, and Staff (of Westford MA), stamped by the Department "received December 17, 2014"
  • Season's Greetings and a 2015 desk calendar from SABIS Educational Systems, Inc (Eden Prairie MN), no date stamp
  • Western MA Education Leaders Coalition (WMELC) Position Statement of December 3, 2014, with Cover Letter and List of WMELC Member Districts and Educational Collaboratives, sent January 14, 2015 (stamped January 16, 2015) from the office of Superintendent of Ludlow Public Schools, Todd H. Gazda on behalf of the WMELC, and signed by Michael J. Kelliher, Chairman on behalf of the Ludlow School Committee; Todd H. Gazda, Superintendent of Schools; and Brian Bylicki on behalf of the Ludlow Education Association. (An email containing the same information was sent to Board members on Friday, January 16, 2015).
    • The 3-page WMELC Position Statement expresses concerns about:
      1. Amount, Pace and Cost of Unfunded Mandates
      2. Validity, reliability and implementation of PARCC exam
      3. Amount, Frequency and Cost of Standardized Testing
        • WMELC Member Districts and Educational Collaboratives include:
          • Agawam Public Schools
          • Collaborative for Educational Services
          • East Longmeadow Public Schools
          • Hadley Public Schools
          • Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative
          • Ludlow Public Schools
          • Monson Public Schools
          • Palmer Public Schools
          • Southwick Tolland Granville Regional School District
          • West Springfield Public Schools
  • A booklet, with Cover Letter, entitled "Fitchburg Public Schools Perspective" sent from the Office of the Superintendent (Fitchburg MA). The letter is signed by Andre Ravenelle, Superintendent of Schools. The booklet contains "letters of support, transcripts of testimony presented at the public hearing as well as a number of artifacts" believed to help give Board Members "a detailed, yet broad perspective of the work of the Fitchburg Public Schools."