Friday, September 17, 1999
School council plan fails to receive school committee endorsement
The Carlisle School Council report for the 1998-99 school year was presented by Principal Andy Goyer. He and parent Pam Blair co-chaired the school council. The other members were parents Christy Barbee, Brooke Cragan and Kathryn Dennison, teachers Gerrie Madigan and Heather Swift, guidance counselor Lauren Scott, and community members Ron O'Reilly and Wendell Sykes.
The purpose of the school council is to assist in identifying educational needs, reviewing the annual budget and formulating a school improvement plan. The council is formed each year with representatives from the teachers and administrators, parents of school children, and community members not otherwise affiliated with the school.
The report was lengthy and represented many hours of work, Goyer said. The council reviewed the current school improvement plan that runs from 1997 to 2000. They found that most of the desired improvements outlined in the plan have been achieved or are in progress. Some areas that were not covered in the plan, including mathematics and health services, were identified and should be included in the 2000 to 2003 improvement plan, the report said.
In reviewing the annual budget, members of the council gained a good understanding of the budgetary process and expressed a desire to act as liaisons with the rest of the community in support of the schools. They recommended that this kind of support begin as early as possible in the future.
The third area that the council focused on this year was the transition of Carlisle students to the Concord-Carlisle High School. Saying that there was no presumption that there were any problems, Goyer said the council just wanted to see if there were things that could be improved. A survey of middle school teachers in both Carlisle and Concord was proposed.
There were objections to this from school committee members who questioned the need for the study if there were not any obvious problems. Member Paul Morrison was concerned that the survey would take the teachers a lot of time and would produce results that were not really meaningful unless the questions were carefully developed.
School committee member Harry Crowther thought that part of the reason people wonder about the transition to the high school is that it is a big change for the parents. They are used to being involved in the school and do not get much information about what happens at the high school from the school or their children.
Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson recalled that studies done in the past found that all students, both from Carlisle and from Concord had some problems adjusting to the high school at the beginning of ninth grade, but that by the end of that first year most felt comfortable at the school. She also noted that CCHS teachers say that they can not tell the difference between Carlisle and Concord students. She suggested that finding ways to help parents feel more connected to the high school would reduce some of the anxiety about the transition.
Recognizing how much work went into the school council report, the CSC and Fox-Melanson were reluctant to reject it, but felt they could not endorse the plan to conduct the survey. "They are trying to fight a perception. We need to find another way," Fox-Melanson said.
CSC chair David Dockterman reiterated his appreciation for the amount of work that the council did. The problem was the survey. "Everything else in the report was great," he said. Rather than voting to either endorse or reject the plan, the CSC asked Goyer to bring their concerns back to the council in hopes that the plan could be modified.
The 1999-2000 school council will be forming soon. Interested people should contact Goyer for more information.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito