Friday, December 13, 2002
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, December 3
• Congratulations to Sandy Kelly. Carlisle School head librarian Sandy Kelly has received her national board certification. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards establishes benchmarks for professional performance and does performance-based assessments to demonstrate application of the standards. According to the NBPTS web site, "The process is an extensive series of performance-based assessments that includes teaching portfolios, student work samples, videotapes and thorough analyses of the candidates' classroom teaching and student learning. Teachers also complete a series of written exercises that probe the depth of their subject-matter knowledge, as well as their understanding of how to teach those subjects to their students."
Kelly was required to prepare and present material that measured her performance against the rigorous standards. She is one of only a handful of librarians who have received their national board certification. School superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson and the committee congratulated her, explaining it was a very demanding process.
• Math league. Part-time Carlisle Middle School math teacher and systems dynamics mentor Rob Quaden reported that between 30 and 40 students are involved in the math league this year. The goal is to motivate kids and have fun. "Math league has become a cultural norm in the school," Quaden said. He added that the school appreciates the funding from the Carlisle Education Foundation.
• Systems Dynamics. Alan Ticotsky, a full-time systems dynamics mentor, funded by the Waters Foundation, and Quaden presented their goals for the next year. They are finding success in involving a broader population of teachers in systems dynamics, a computerized modeling system of cause and effect, applicable to many subjects. They are giving teachers support tools, such as outlines which include expectations and activities; the goal is to have each grade working on the same subjects at the same time. Fox-Melanson said it was a huge breakthrough to be able to include all the teachers and not just the ones perceived as innovative. Committee member David Dockterman asked what the spill-over from systems dynamics is in the work the students do. Ticotsky, giving an example, said the eighth graders have shown much more depth in their environmental papers this year. Instead of being standard "white bread" reports, the reports are broader, covering more issues as the teachers push the students to use systems dynamics to research the connections between issues affecting the environment. The teachers have been pleasantly surprised by what the students can do. Fox-Melanson pointed out the systems dynamics approach often reaches students who may not be traditional learners, and the tools force kids to talk specifically about issues.
• School council. Carlisle Middle School math teacher Joan Beauchamp reported that the Carlisle School Council is finding that their recommendations are not being followed through because of budget constraints. Therefore, the council is now focusing on ways to communicate with the public about the programs at the Carlisle School. They will be writing in-depth articles on various subjects and the first two will focus on the library and school maintenance.
• Special educator resigns. Fox-Melanson read a letter of resignation from special educator Jennifer Fenton-Jones. Fenton-Jones taught in Carlisle for three years and took a leave of absence two years ago. She has decided to remain home with her three children.
• Long-term capital expenditures. Fox-Melanson presented the long-term capital expenditures plan through FY2008. Two items will be requested this year — the purchase of a pickup truck with plow and sander attachments and the replacement of the "room walls" (movable walls) in the Corey Building. In addition, she presented a report entitled "List of Deferred Maintenance." The report listed all areas of maintenance needs, the cost of maintenance or replacement, the priority of the item, and information about safety concerns. Whitney Smith remarked the deferred maintenance list was very helpful. Moore said if repair to deferred items suddenly becomes critical, the costs could damage the school budget. "It concerns me greatly," agreed Fox-Melanson. The committee expressed its gratitude to school buildings and grounds supervisor David Flannery for his hard work.
• Versions of FY04 budget. Fox-Melanson presented three versions of the FY04 Carlisle School budget. After reviewing the budget that meets the FinCom guideline of 2.625%, Fitzgerald remarked, "We will have major problems down the road [if that budget is adopted]." The other two budgets represent 4.25% and 7.73% increases over the current year budget. The school committee will meet with the finance committee on December 11 to discuss budget planning, but will not present budget details at that time.
• Next meeting. The next meeting of the Carlisle School Committee is scheduled for January 7.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito