Friday, November 1, 2002
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, October 22
· Maternity leave. Special education teacher Jessica Mihalchik and physical education teacher Lynne Carmel will be on maternity leave by December. Both teachers plan to return for the 2003-2004 school year.
· CEF and CSA gifts. Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson thanked the Carlisle Education Foundation for the generous gift of over $80,000 (raised by the summer library fundraiser), which has enabled the school to reinstate many programs cut by the budget restraints. She also thanked the Carlisle School Association for a $6,000 donation to restore sections of the choral program. Fox-Melanson commented on the generous outpouring from the community: "I don't expect to receive this kind of support next year," and said she hoped the budget situation would allow some programs to be funded again.
She further thanked the CSA for a contribution to purchase ten extra math books. "We were short, and I just didn't have the money at that time," she said. "I brought [the need for the books] to the board and they funded them."
· Eighth-grade trip. Fox-Melanson asked the committee to express their views on the destination of the eighth-grade trip. "I'm not sure why they went to Portland" last year, said committee member Nicole Burkel. Assistant principal Steve Goodwin explained the curriculum connection to the trip, and Fox-Melanson pointed out Portland was chosen for safety reasons after the tragedy on 9/11. The eighth grade used to do a play, she explained, but having a seventh- and an eighth-grade play was too much work. So the seventh graders now perform a play and the eighth graders go on a year-end trip. She said she wanted to know the committee's parameters so the teachers could begin planning the trip. Committee member Paul Morrison said he wasn't worried about terrorism, and didn't see that affecting the decision on where they should go. Burkel suggested it be within an easy driving distance. "Keep in mind the cost issue," she said. "That's an issue because people in the community are losing jobs." Committee chair Suzanne Whitney-Smith agreed, saying it would be good to limit the travel time, and "not spend eight hours on a bus." "What I hear," concluded Fox-Melanson, "is the school committee won't limit the destination."
· Vandalism. Fox-Melanson said approximately $1,000 in vandalism was done at the school over the weekend. The police are investigating.
· DARE. Fox-Melanson said the DARE program has been reinstated due to contributions from the community.
· What does the town want? The League of Women Voters will hold a discussion/seminar titled "Our Town, Our Schools, Our Money" on November 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Carlisle. Members of the school committee plan to attend, and this brought a discussion of how to reach out to the community to share information about the Carlisle Public School. "We need to inform people what the program is" at the school, suggested committee member Mike Fitzgerald. "I think I felt out of touch with the town members who were disgruntled last year," added Morrison. "They weren't angry at us," Fox-Melanson said. "We listened and didn't go back for more money. It was the regional issue and the economy." "Good schools bring values to homes," added Morrison. Whitney-Smith suggested holding public forums, but calling them "neighborhood meetings," to discuss the programs at the school.
· MCAS. Principal Andy Goyer presented the results from the 2002-2003 MCAS testing. In all areas the Carlisle and Concord-Carlisle Sqchools performed well over the state average, except for the fourth-grade language arts. The writing responses were poor and it is an area of concern, said Goyer. Fitzgerald asked if MCAS has been a productive tool. Fox-Melanson answered that the test has allowed them to look at their curriculum, explaining, "When it doesn't make sense, we do not follow it." The test "has brought to light a group of students we need to focus on" in language arts, responded Goodwin.
"We can use MCAS as a tool while seeking to enrich our program, but we're very concerned about refusing diplomas" based on the test results, Fox-Melanson concluded.
· Next meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for November 19.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito