Friday, April 15, 2005
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, April 6
• Eighth-grade graduation. The date for the eighth-grade graduation is in danger of conflicting with Old Home Day festivities, Maureen Tarca, chair of the graduation committee, warned. Traditionally the event, currently scheduled for June 23, is held on the last day of school, which could change depending on school closings. "We could have an April snow storm," she said. She requested the school committee pick June 23 as the confirmed date of the ceremony. "We've spoken to Steve Goodwin, who supports this idea," said Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle. The committee agreed the date for graduation is June 23.
Tarca noted in a letter to the school committee that the eighth-grade graduation dance will be held on June 18.
• Carlisle teachers in China. Carlisle School teachers Carolyn Platt, Erin McCauley, Cyd McCann and Beth Sherman are visiting China for two weeks as part of the U.S.-China Principal Shadowing Project 2004-2005, sponsored by the China Exchange Initiative (CEI) and The China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE). The teachers will be visiting schools, and plan to write an interdisciplinary unit after they complete their Chinese trip.
• Literature Circles. Doyle welcomed Davida Fox-Melanson, former Carlisle School Superintendent, as well as other members of the Davida Fox-Melanson Fund for Excellence in Teaching grant fund committee. The endowed fund, which is supported by donations from the Carlisle community, provides for new initiatives for training and communication by funding teacher and staff professional development.
Teachers Carolyn Platt, Stephen Bober, and Marcella Pixley, who attended a Literature Circles conference in Santa Fe, which was supported by the first Fox-Melanson fund grant, gave a short presentation to the school committee and the CEF regarding the conference.
The teachers have incorporated literatures circles into the middle school, which are a success. The students choose their books from a list, and in small groups they meet regularly to discuss their reading in a leaderless session. When the books and discussions are completed, the students share the books with the class through their choice of method (chats, reviews, media, etc.). New groups are then formed based on choices of books.
Doyle thanked the fund committee and Fox-Melanson for sponsoring the teachers' conference.
• Social studies curriculum. Social studies curriculum coordinators Bill Tate (fifth-grade teacher) and Sandy Kelly (school librarian) gave an overview of the social studies curriculum for grades Kindergarten through eight. "The state keeps changing the frameworks [subject requirements for each grade]," Tate said, which makes it difficult for future course planning.
The school committee praised the coordinators' report, which included a grade-by-grade breakdown of the subjects being taught, the content, the materials used, and the Massachusetts Department of education expectations. Also included were the potential MCAS history and social science "tryout" topics. The tryout test will be used as a practice test in which scores will not be return to the school. The potential MCAS test material requires a lot of recall, noted Tate, which does not prompt high-level thinking. "I've been here a long time in Carlisle," he said, "We're not the type to focus on dates." Doyle agreed, "If we have to memorize instead of reason we will lose out."
• Custodial overtime. When the Carlisle School facility is used by outside groups, there is a charge for custodian overtime. Currently the custodians receive a minimum of two hours of overtime pay (double their hourly salary) for overtime work. Any additional hours are paid at one-and-a-half their salary rate. "We are currently having difficulty getting custodians to work the two-hour details," David Flannery, Building and Grounds Supervisor, explained in a report to the school committee. "This is mostly due to the fact that they receive a much smaller take home pay after taxes and it is often not worth giving up a morning or afternoon on a weekend for that pay." Most of the groups using the facility do so for more than four hours, Flannery noted. After discussion, the committee agreed to raise the minimum overtime charge to four hours, with additional hours billed at one-and-a-half the salary rate.
• Building user fees. Flannery reported that user fees for the various spaces in the Carlisle School facility, which run from $15 to $30 per hour, are the lowest in the area. He proposed raising the fees by $5 per hour. The committee agreed, and suggested users be given a number of month's advance warning of the increase.
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