Teaching and Learning
The past two weeks since our last meeting have been filled with preparations for the new school year which began on September 2nd. I would like to express my appreciation to our teachers’ association for collaborating with us to have our teachers start prior to the Labor Day holiday. This allowed us to have two full professional days prior to the arrival of our students. In an attempt to allow teachers as much time focused on collaboration with their colleagues and professional learning activities as possible, we did not have a traditional gathering of the entire staff. In lieu of that gathering, I visited each staff individually to welcome them back and share my core beliefs and values. I really enjoyed the more intimate setting and the opportunity to have more personal interaction with my colleagues.
Progress Toward Goals and Superintendent’s Professional Growth
One of my professional practice goals is to spend one half day a week in a school. The purpose of these visits is to have focused 1:1 time with each of the principals in order to discuss building issues, student achievement, and any issues that the building leader has. Together we visit classrooms and debrief about what we saw in regards to teaching and learning. I conducted my first visit this past week to the Quinn Middle School. In our visits to classrooms, I observed many students developing their academic and social goals for the year and committing them to writing. I also saw teachers conducting formative assessments to gather baseline data on student readiness. The use of data for instructional planning is an essential component of increasing academic rigor and student achievement.
Personnel and Celebrations
Earlier this week, I shared with the Committee a communication that I received regarding the manner in which one of our Principals went above and beyond as a former student transitioned from one school to another. This story did not surprise me as I know that our staff goes above and beyond every day for the children of Hudson. I want to take a moment and thank the parent that shared the story with me. Often the only time parents reach out to the Superintendent is when they need assistance solving issues. I appreciate this mother for taking a few minutes out of her busy day to share a positive experience with me.
Finance and Operations and Facilities
The two major issues with the A/C at QMS are undersized external termination cabinets provided by the manufacturer and condensation build up in the air handling units. These metal boxes or cabinets, while weather resistant, are not weatherproof and contain electronic relays and connections for the operation of the equipment and the building automation system.
The relays in these cabinets appear to be too delicate for this application and have had numerous failures. We have petitioned the manufacturer, with the backing of the architect, engineer and project management firm, to replace the termination cabinets, relays and the relay mounting blocks.
Secondly, the manufacturer alleged that the condensation build up which caused leaks through the ceiling in several places was caused by the unit fans running at too high a speed causing the condensation in the units to become air-borne rather than draining onto the roof as designed. This theory was corroborated by the engineer. However through constant daily observation by our building technician, it was determined that the plastic traps/drains to the roof were cracked and thereby created a vacuum when the fans were running. This vacuum prevented the water from properly draining. This situation has been addressed and all of the traps will be replaced. I would like to thank Mr. Damien Ruggeri, our building technician, Mr. Wayne Miller, our Plumbing and HVAC expert, and Mr. Jason Webster, Quinn principal, for their diligence and time spent on the roof troubleshooting and problem solving. I would also like to recognize Mr. Ruggeri for going the extra mile to insure that the best interests of the District were met.
As is typical with the opening of school, there were several transportation issues that needed to be worked out. The majority of the issues seemed to be centered around the afternoon elementary bus runs. Our transportation team is actively working to address these issues and, as of the writing of this report, the majority of the issues appear to be resolved. We are encouraging parents to email any busing concerns related to bus stops that cannot be addressed at their child’s school, to: firstname.lastname@example.org . This will allow us to effectively and efficiently work to resolve issues with routes and daily operations in real time while evaluating each bus stop issue on a case by case basis. We are asking parents to please use this email if they have any safety concerns about your child’s bus stop or if they want to add/change any bus stops. Safety concerns will be evaluated immediately and any changes will be promptly made. We will be refraining from changing stops for non-safety reasons for approximately 3 weeks. This will allow for the dust to settle and for us to make the best decisions possible while working out issues we encounter in day to day operations.
Parent and Community Groups
Prior to the return of the teachers and students, the District held its annual Readiness Day. The purpose of this day is to insure that all safety and infrastructure needs are met and the schools are “ready” to open. This year we changed the format so that meetings took place at each school campus. I would like to extend my appreciation to Chief Stevens, Officer Downing, Det. Crogan, Chief Blood and their respective departments for spending a significant amount of time visiting each campus and working with our building staff to develop emergency response plans and enhanced lockdown training plans. In addition to our community partners, Mrs. Jenny Gormley, Director of Health, Safety and Nursing, Mrs. Ellen Schuck, Director of Technology, and Mr. Len Belli, Director of Facilities spent a significant amount of time to insure that our infrastructure was in an optimal condition to welcome back students and staff. Data collected indicated that participants found that this format was more productive than it had been in prior years and also offered solutions for improving efficiencies.
9/11/14 Quinn Middle School Open House 6:00-8:00 p.m.
9/16/14 Parent Town Meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m.
I will be holding my first Parent Town Meeting at Quinn Middle School on Tuesday, September 16th from 6:30-8:30 PM. This will allow me to meet more of our District families and learn how we can continue to grow and learn together as a community.
9/18/14 Hudson High School Open House 6:30-8:30 p.m.
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 and School Choice numbers so that you can be aware of the amount of fluctuation that may or may not be occurring on a monthly basis.
Special Reports & Presentations
Innovation School Fellowship
Mr. Kevin Hava, 2014 Innovation School Fellow, will be present to provide you with an initial update on the Hudson Public Schools Innovation School Planning Efforts. Information is included in your packet.
1. Approval of the Hudson High School Students to Attend the Journalism Education Association National Convention Overnight Field Trip to Washington, DC on November 5-8, 2014
a. The High School would like approval to attend the Journalism Education Association National Convention Overnight Field Trip to Washington, DC on November 5-8, 2014. The details are outlined in a memo from Mr. Reagan that is included in your packet. This is an action item. The Superintendent recommends approval.
2. Approval of the Hudson High School Drama Society Overnight Field Trip to New York City on April 14-15, 2015
a. The High School would like approval for the Drama Society Overnight Field Trip to New York City on April 14-15, 2015. The details are outlined in a memo from Mr. Reagan that is included in your packet. This is an action item. The Superintendent recommends approval.
3. Approval of the Hudson High School Overnight Field Trip to Peruvian Amazon in April, 2015
a. The High School would like approval for the Overnight Field Trip to Peruvian Amazon in April, 2015. The details are outlined in a memo from Mr. Reagan that is included in your packet. This is an action item. The Superintendent recommends approval.
4. Approval of Revised Agenda Structure
a. In an effort to simplify the agenda for the public and to facilitate the conducting of business, the School Committee Chair and I have discussed creating a simplified version of the agenda. In your packet, I have included a sample of what this meeting’s agenda would look like should we change formats. The new format delineates action items, reports, and discussion. I believe that it allows for clearer expectations by the community about what will happen at School Committee meetings. The sample agenda that is included is modeled after the agenda used by the Lynnfield School Committee. I recommend that the committee agree to pilot this new agenda over the next 3 meetings to see if it meets our needs. Should we permanently adopt the agenda, it would require a policy change. This is a discussion item
5. Approval of Revised Subcommittee Structure
a. In an effort to increase the efficiency of school committee operations and community participation and ownership of the workings of the Hudson Public Schools, the School Committee Chairperson and I have brainstormed ways to restructure the current School Committee subcommittees. By policy the School Committee Chairperson can solicit input from others on subcommittees. Below are our initial thoughts about how subcommittees could be repurposed and community partnerships solicited at appropriate times As always subcommittee meetings would remain public meetings. This is a discussion item.
· School Committee Goals
o This would begin as the whole committee breaking into smaller subcommittee to consolidate ideas and bring back to whole. This may change after our workshop on Monday.
· Community and Business Partnerships
o Non-committee members could join us at the table to establish partnerships to enhance our educational offerings both through financial gifts and volunteerism
· Public Relations
o Non-committee members could join us at the table to help establish regular cycles of communication and further develop vehicles for communication.
o Non-committee members could join us at the table to help develop policy when the policy would have some relevance to them.
o I propose consolidating budget and Buildings and Grounds as each is really a capital planning business function.
6. Approval of Contract with McGraw Hill for Math Textbooks in the Amount of $13,230.00
a. This is for approval of the contract with McGraw Hill for math textbooks in the amount of $13,230.00. A copy of the procurement is included in your packet. This is an action item. The Superintendent recommends approval.
7. Reclassification of Funds (if needed)
8. Subcommittee and Building Committee Liaison Reports