Our objective was to leave the meeting with a common definition and the components of a balanced assessment system. This definition was to be based from a series of professional readings that we completed. We met our objective and the definition should be ready to present to the Committee at our next meeting. This meeting was the first foundational step in completing our 2016-2017 strategic initiative of creating and implementing a balanced and rigorous assessment system to measure student progress and determine any needed adjustments to instructional practices.
Finance and Operations
One of the issues that I have heard many parents, teachers, and administrators discuss is their dissatisfaction with IPass, our current student information management software. Each group has different complaints regarding the user interface and usability of the product. Ellen Schuck and I have spent time discussing options for improving the user experience. The parent company that owns IPass has been less than responsive to our requests to fix known issues and requests for improved functionality. Given the myriad of issues and the number of people affected, the District has decided to pursue purchasing another student information management system. As a first step in this process, Ellen Schuck and Betsy Russell have screened five student information systems over the course of the past two weeks:
• IMG/Harris (our current provider of IPass)
• Aspen X2
• School Brains
These five companies were chosen based on the March 2016 SIF 2.7 rating published by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Each company provided a two-hour presentation showcasing their various modules within their software program. Three companies were chosen to be moved on to a selection committee comprised of all stakeholder groups. The companies were chosen to be moved on based on the following criteria:
• DESE Reporting/SIF process
• Program modules
• Data Extraction process
• Presence in public school districts in Massachusetts
• Overall features of their program
Over the next two months, we will be bringing PowerSchool, Aspen X2, and School Brains back for formal presentations to a larger selection committee which will be comprised of teachers, secretaries, guidance counselors, administrators, parents, and students.
Included in your packet are the lab results the Mulready water tests completed by Microbac Labs. Our first draw samples were taken early on March 25th after the units had been still since the day before for the required 6 to 8 hours. The units had most likely been still for 9.5 to 10 hours at the time of the sample collection.
All lead readings were significantly below the EPA/LCCA limits for lead which is 0.015 mg/L. The letters ND on the reports indicate that there was no substance detectable in the sample. As you can see, most of our samples tested around 0.0015 mg/L.
There was one first draw sample that tested at .0052 mg/L for lead. This result had the highest concentration of lead obtained and was a clear outlier from the remaining data. Though an outlier, the result is well below the acceptable threshold of 0.015mg/L established by the Environmental Protection Agency when water is tested after being still. The same drinking fountain did not have any detectable lead after being flushed per the testing protocol.
The results of the second test, which are flushed samples, yield results for lead and copper that remain significantly below the EPA/LCCA thresholds of 0.015 mg/L Lead and 1.3mg/L Copper.
The District’s next action steps are:
• Notifying all Mulready families on Friday afternoon;
• Reopening of all water fountains at the Mulready School; and
• Starting a testing routine for all schools in conjunction with the water department. Posting result reports on the District’s Announcement webpage.
I would like to once again extend my appreciation to Sam Tipps and Josh Teixeira for their thoughtful and professional research for the State Science Fair that led us to where we are in this process.
Air Quality at Quinn
The final report has been received and is posted on the District’s Announcements page.
The District held the kindergarten lottery on Monday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m. at the Apsley Street Administration Building. Mulready was the only building that needed a lottery. I will be providing an update to the Committee on some additional possibilities that we have for full-day kindergarten in the 2016-2017 school year.
Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Group
This was the first opportunity that I had to meet with this group in a few months. We spent some time catching up on all of the activity that is occurring in the District. Some concerns that the group brought forward were communication from the District regarding transitions between buildings, program recommendations as students transition from the middle school to the high school and the preschool merger with CHAPS, the elementary report card, and difficulties with registration at the high school most notably for rising eight graders.
Communication about transition is an ongoing topic between the principals and some strong plans are beginning to take shape around improving the District’s practice. As an intermediary step, I have asked principals to prominently provide directions to sign up for the ListServ in the students’ next school in the current schools’ own newsletters and ListServs. I have also asked elementary principals to invite Jason to their next coffee and Jason to invite Brian to his so that interested families can have an opportunity to speak with their soon-to-be principal and ask any burning questions they may have.
Karen Martin will join us at our May meeting to discuss the elementary report card. I will invite the broader community who may have questions to join us.
We are exploring new student management software to address the registration issues that families experienced at the High School. We will also examine the registration window so that we can avoid abutting vacation if that is possible.
Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Meeting
We had 350 superintendents, administrators, state officials, DESE officials and Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester join us at Hudson High School for a conference on next generation assessments.
I cannot express how much I appreciate the roles that Julia Pisegna, Brian Reagan, Dan MacAnespie, Ellen Schuck, Cam Ciesluk, and Roger Downing played in making Thursday’s event at the high school a success. Over 300 school administrators descended on the school and they made the logistics look easy. The Commissioner was impressed with our facility and our ability to be so accommodating. The team made our high school and our District shine.
The MetroWest Special Olympics Track and Field events will be held on Friday, April 15th at Bowditch Field. This field is located on the campus of Framingham State University. This year, there is a rain date of Friday, April 29th. I am excited to have the rain date after last year’s disappointing weather cancellation. I invite members of the Committee who can to attend. It is a truly wonderful event.
All enrollment numbers are up to date as of the writing of this report. They are unofficial numbers. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education collects snapshots of enrollment data three times per year October, March, and June. I will provide you with monthly enrollment numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.