Friday, November 25, 2005
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee November 16
• Federal grant. Doyle announced fifth-grade special educator Susan Fitzgerald received a federal grant to create, implement, and monitor a support program for teaching assistants, many of whom work with special education students.
• Elementary Foreign Language. The World Language Task Force is finishing up the plan to introduce Spanish and Chinese in the elementary grades, Goodwin reported. He could not report a start date yet, he said. When the process is done, Carlisle School Committee member Michael Fitzgerald said, he would like the School Committee to review how the language classes will fit in the day-to-day schedule. "It adds a level of burden for the kids, and stress," he said, noting that even now it is hard for the teachers to fit all that needs to be taught into a typical day. "Time is number one issue in the discussions" with the task force, Goodwin said. The teachers are being encouraged to review how subjects can be better blended so material is not repeated, he explained. "The benchmarks help fine-tune other areas of the day that we can reclaim." The teachers want foreign languages, he said, and are working on how to balance introducing more into the school day. Fitting it into the day is the issue, agreed Fitzgerald.
Goodwin said they have identified 20-30 school districts that are teaching elementary foreign languages. "We are reaching out to them to learn how they are doing it," he explained. "The easiest time to learn a language is when you are young," pointed out Sykes. "What was the response on the [foreign language] survey," asked Carlisle School Committee member Nicole Burkel. The school sent out a survey to parents of elementary students asking which language, French, Spanish, or Chinese, they would like to see their children learn. Though there was no area for comments on the form, the parents he has talked to are "very positive" and want the program. "They wanted it last year," he added.
• Cell Tower Committee. Carlisle School Committee member Wendell Sykes, reporting on the progress of the Cell Tower Committee, said the committee's new name should be "Let's Not Build a Cell Tower." Instead of recommending construction of a cell tower, the committee, he said, is focusing on using antennas on 20 telephone poles, connected by fiber optic cable. "The general consensus of the committee is to go back to the Selectmen," he said, and report that the Cell Tower Committee is not a "cell tower committee."
Carlisle resident Paul McCormack passed out an article from IEEE Spectrum magazine, a professional technology association magazine, which discussed the potential health risks with electromagnetic waves. McCormack wanted to "share his concerns" about placing a cell tower near the school.
• Preliminary budget. Moore presented an updated version of the FY07 budget, which presently shows an increase of 2.4%, but still does not include potential contractual increases such as salaries and transportation costs, or state-mandated program costs such as the ELL (English Language Learners) Program. All Massachusetts districts are required to have a program geared to non-English speaking students, whether or not any exist in the district. Moore said the new Early Intervention initiative proposed in the budget could be enhanced to fulfill this requirement. Moore expects to have a bus contract by December 2, and a completed "level services budget" at the next School Committee meeting.
• Long-term capital requests. Technology classroom equipment, campus safety railings, new phone voice mail system, and replacement lockers are some of the items being considered for long-term capital requests. The middle school lockers, which are located in the classrooms in the Wilkins Building, used to line the halls. "That predates me," commented Fitzgerald. "Are you sure?" joked Burkel. "Are you ready to carbon date me?" answered Fitzgerald. The committee recommended consulting with Carlisle School Buildings and Grounds Supervisor David Flannery. "I would move up the railings [on the list] because it is a safety issue," said Burkel. Also, "the boiler is getting old," commented Moore.
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