Friday, June 22, 2001
School council recommendations focus on maintaining excellence
Christy Barbee, Sharyl Stropkay and Wendell Sykes, members of the 2001 School Council, were at the June 5 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) to present the council's conclusions.on improvements needed to ensure that the schools maintain current standards of excellence and meet future needs of Carlisle students. The council, which has included school members, Principal Andy Goyer, Teachers Geri Madigan, Peter Darasz and Wendy Stack and school parents Christy Barbee, Sharyl Stropkay, Colie O'Donnell, Martha Bedrosian, and community member Wendell Sykes, is an advisory group to the CSC and the school administration
Barbee outlined the past year's six areas of focus: the school budget and its implications for school improvement, improvements to the science curriculum which would include more opportunities for inquiry-based and hands-on experimentation, the need for more technology resources and ways to incorporate technology into the curriculum, a review of the staffing for grade 6, and a review of the Carlisle Student Handboook.
Support grade 6 reorganization
The council supported the school's plan to reorganize the present five sections of grade 5 into four larger sections with additional teaching assistants in Grade 6 and the middle school. Several members of the council made themselves available to help explain the administration's decision to the fifth grade parents.
More lab time needed
Council members met with systems mentor Alan Ticotsky and reviewed the K-8 science curriculum. They concluded that the number of opportunities for the children to carry out experiments and observe scientific principles, especially in the elementary grades, should be increased. A science coordinator might be a good addition.
Better technology integration
Barbee also commented on their observation that the school seemed always to be seeking technology hardware and software for the teachers. They concluded that the school needed to develop system-wide and grade-level approaches to the use of technology in the curriculum. It became apparent that some teachers lacking computers or uncomfortable with the use of technology shy away from projects using technology. They encouraged the school to begin planning in a more systematic way the incorporation of technology in the curriculum at each grade level. "Many schools in the state are badly served by bureaucracy. This is not the case in Carlisle. However in Carlisle the quality of technology capability generally is better in the homes than it is at the school. We do need a computer policy," said CSC Chair Whitney Smith.
Superintendent Fox-Melanson said, "It is really helpful to have another group take a critical look at the school." Commenting on the school council recommendation, "It would be valuable to have a science coordinator. However it would be better to have the faculty feel more competent using the technology. The resource issue is as important as is the ability to offer more science courses for the teachers.
CSC member Dockterman agreed and said, "It is hard to train teachers on something when the equipment is not available." Superintendent Fox-Melanson speaking to the council members present said, "You play a more important role than you realize. For example look at the technology article on the town Warrant this spring."
Role of the School council
Finally Barbee and Wendell Sykes and Sharyl Stropkay, the other two council members present, expressed feeling a lack of connection with the CSC and questioned whether communication channels were open to them "to see things through. The members of the School council hope to use their time and resources to be of help to the school." School committee member Docktorman explained that the topics the council addresses are really focused more to Superintendent Fox-Melanson and the administration and not to the CSC. "The CSC does not set the curriculum."
CSC member Paul Morrison commented, "The school council has done a lot of research and has become a very informed body. It is great to have that educational advocacy." CSC Chair Whitney Smith said, "The more people who know about the schools is to our advantage." She thanked the members of the school council and agreed to look for more ways for the school council to coordinate with the Carlisle School Committee.
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