The District Leadership Team will have its first meeting of the year on Wednesday. We will be addressing a broad range of topics including the structure of our meetings moving forward, roles and responsibilities in decision making, the FY18 budget schedule, and subcommittees to move the work of the District improvement plan forward. (Element 4-D2)
At Tuesday’s school committee meeting:
Principals will present updates on hiring, activities of interest that they undertook over the summer, and the impact that the work we did at our summer retreat had on their practice. (Elements 4D-2 & 2C-1)
Three of our curriculum directors will be presenting their findings regarding a baseline survey of assessments that are presented in the District and the purposes that they are used for. (Element 1C-1)
Finance and Operations
In your packet is the draft budget schedule for the FY18 budget. This should provide the Committee and the community with a full picture of the amount of time and careful consideration the School Committee and administration put in as stewards of the community’s investment in our children. On September 9, 2016, I sent out a poll to School Committee members so that we could schedule the administrator’s budget presentations to the School Committee. Hopefully, we will be able to announce those dates at Tuesday’s meeting. The Committee will also notice that there was a budget workshop added on November 29, 2016. This is a Tuesday evening that was not a currently scheduled School Committee meeting, however, we wanted to get a second budget workshop on the schedule as far out as possible in case it is needed. (Element 2E-1)
The traffic pattern at Quinn was revamped this year with two goals, increasing the safety of students and substantially reducing and/or removing the back log of traffic on Manning Street. I was on site for drop-off and dismissal on the first three days of school. The first day was not a resounding success, however, by day three, the vast majority of issues had been resolved and our objectives in implementing the change had been met. Kudos to the Quinn team for the work that everyone is putting in at dismissal and drop-off in order to facilitate the new traffic pattern so that we are moving children in and out of the building quickly and safely. There are a few people whose contributions I would like to call out:
Matt Gaffny gets special mention for his take charge attitude and last minute corrections to create an optimized traffic flow.
The Opal Team has gone above and beyond in moving parent vehicles and lining up bus students on the curb so they are ready to immediately board the buses. I watched the on the spot adaptations happen in order to enhance safety and efficiency.
Jason Webster is working hard to get the kids on the bus and seated so the drivers will “move that bus”.
I would like to ask any parents that are watching to please reinforce to their children that the sooner they are seated on the bus, the sooner the bus will get them home.
These are just people that are visible outside. I appreciate the work each member of the Quinn team does in the building to have the kids out of the building and ready for transport home. I am always impressed by how the Quinn family pulls together to get things done.
We have experienced the typical beginning of the year hiccups with student transportation. Patty Lange and Renee Graca have worked diligently to resolve issues as they arise. There have been a few notable exceptions.
On the first day of school, there was a very minor bus accident at Quinn during the morning drop off. This event was, nor attributed to, the new traffic pattern and involved a non-parent commuter trying to get to work and a bus trying to get into the parking lot. There were no injuries to anyone involved. I extend my appreciation to the Hudson Police Department for their response and our school health office for their professionalism in evaluating all 52 students on the bus for any potential injuries.
On the first day of school, we also had a bus that was overloaded at Quinn. We had to remove several students from the afternoon run so that the bus could safely depart. NRT quickly sent a backup bus to transport these students. Unfortunately, this was a bus scheduled to do a Forest Avenue run which it was quite delayed in arriving at Forest for.
We also had a new bus driver on bus 7 (Quinn and Mulready). The newness of the bus driver resulted in the routes being completed more slowly than the expected standard. This had a domino effect on each run it made and by the time the bus was arriving and completing its Mulready runs, it was quite late. NRT is working with us to resolve this issue and the driver is now starting his runs earlier. (Element 2C-2)
At the elementary level, teams of reading coaches and specialists along with their math counterparts are sweeping through classrooms to gather baseline data on students’ achievement levels so that the teachers can be able to plan target instruction, maximize growth and measure that growth. (Element 1C-1)
For the first time since becoming Superintendent, I held a large opening of school gathering for all staff. Prior to this year, I have visited each staff meeting to welcome staff back and set the stage for this year. It was wonderful having all of our employees together. My themes for the day were the power of a teacher, the importance of relationships and greatness is a choice.
I provided a first-hand examples of the power that teachers wield when it comes to their ability to affect the world while honoring the impact that teachers had on me and my choices. The three teachers that impacted me the most came and shared lessons that they had learned over their careers. I had no idea what each was going to say, and since each has a very different personality, I knew at least one thing would resonate with everyone. The staff response that I have received has been wonderful. I have had teachers share with me stories of the teachers that most impacted them. People were inspired to seek out the teacher or teachers that impacted them the most. One person related the story of finding 94 year-old sister Elaine on Facebook that night. I am happy that it was so well-received by our staff. Not only was our staff impacted each of the three individuals that shared their wisdom with us remarked on the amazing culture that we have here in Hudson. The fact that our teachers would come up and thank these veteran teachers for coming and sharing or have genuine conversations with “the Superintendent” was something that my heroes had not experienced as a District culture when they were teaching full time. The fact that it is our District culture is something that I am immensely proud of and I hope each of our educators shares that pride.
During one of the elementary Open Houses, a parent that was tuned into my hashtag, (#greatnessisachoice) and the fact that this was a theme that we were carrying through the year, texted me a picture of a white board. Written in bold black letters across the top of the board were the words “Greatness is a Choice”. I could not be happier that this is something that resonates with our teachers and families. (Element 4D-2)
The excitement and happy chatter that is the hallmark of a new school year reinvigorates me each year. Our first day of school went smoothly. Our teachers were ready to welcome children back for a new year of learning and growth. On the Monday before our staff was due back, I visited each building with the intention of seeing if the physical plant was ready to open for teachers the next day. Instead, I encountered 80% of our teachers working and planning together on a very warm day and the only compensation they were receiving was the satisfaction of a job well-done. Those teachers that I didn’t personally encounter had also clearly been in their classrooms over the summer preparing for their new students. Again, the level of professionalism of our educators is something to be celebrated and applauded.
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.
By the Numbers: August 28 –September 12, 2016 (Element 3C-1)
• 53 email conversations (at least 3 exchanges in conversation)
• 105 email exchanges (no more than 2 exchanges in each interaction)
• 5 tweets to 847 Followers
• 7 meetings with individual staff members
• 3 meetings with group of Administrators
• 2 new hire interviews
• 2 School Committee member meetings
• 2 school visits
• 1 parent meeting
• 1 para association meeting
• 1 labor management meeting