Friday, April 13, 2007
Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, April 4
· School calendar. The School Committee voted to set the last day of school as June 19. The calendar for 2007 — 2008 has been approved, with the start of school on September 4 and the last day (if no snow days) on June 17, 2008. A copy is available on the school web site, www.carlisle.mec.edu, under "General Information."
· Budget override comparison. Before the budget presentation the School Committee members discussed the pending Carlisle town override and referred to a list of Massachusetts towns' overrides published in the April 1 Boston Globe. They expressed surprise at some of the higher override amounts. The Mosquito developed a chart to compare overrides in various towns (see below.)
· Boiler cost lowered. Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman said the costs for the new boiler came in at approximately $155,000 under what was allocated for the project. The money will be returned to the town.
· Study skills class. Director of Student Services Karen Slack said a pilot after-school club, called "Executive Success" would start on April 25 and end on June 7. The class is for middle school students who could use extra help in "executive functions," which involve organization and study skills, and time management. The club would meet from 2:20 to 3:05 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The cost is $300 per student. She said parents can contact her or Principal Paul Graseck if they are interested in the class.
Slack said teachers have been asked to identify "vulnerable" students in the light of the events at Lincoln-Sudbury High School. The teachers are asked to "check in" with the students and keep a connection with them.
· Eighth-grade trip questioned. Ginny Lamere, of Rutland Street, expressed concern about the activities planned for the eighth-grade trip. The class will climb Mount Monadnock on their first day, spend the night in Springfield and attend Six Flags amusement park the next day before heading home. "There are no naturalists going on the eighth-grade trip during the first day," she said. She said the $350 cost per student is steep for "no value." She noted that there was "No parent input, yet we get the bill." Meeting attendees Alex Krapf and Don Rober voiced agreement with Lamere.
Graseck later explained that the eighth-grade team is inviting a local geologist to "prepare the students for the Mount Monadnock hike." The geologist would meet with the students in an assembly, and would discuss the geological formations and history of the Mount Monadnock region. The study of the geology fits in with the ninth-grade Earth Science curriculum, which many students will be taking next year, he added.
"The eighth-grade team is fine with the trip," he explained. They accompany the students on the trip and the teachers feel the trip is a "celebration" of the years the students have spent together. "It is educational in a social way, letting kids communicate with each other and with the teachers." He noted that the trip, which takes place during the last full school week in June, is at a point where "grading is done, for the most part." Approximately 80 students out of the 90 in the class have sent in their permission slips. If a student does not participate in the trip, the school is required to educate those students in school, he added.
· Strategic Planning Committee. Superintendent Marie Doyle reported that invitations are being sent out asking individuals to join the Strategic Planning Committee. She said a variety of people are being asked.
· Medical leave. Second-grade teacher Lynn Walker is taking a medical leave.
· Wishing Tree. The CSA is asking for suggestions for its annual "Wishing Tree" at the "FUNraiser" event on May 5. The Wishing Tree is a display of specific school needs, such as books or science instruments, for which attendees can "purchase" for the school.
· Processing MCAS tests. Doyle thanked Principals Patrice Hurley and Graseck for their work in sending off the MCAS tests to the state. School Committee Chair Nicole Burkel noted the principals both worked late hours on the task. Doyle explained they had to count every test individually, and were required to separate tests by criteria such as the type of test, the grade and the possible accommodations. Each test had to also be uploaded to the state web site separately. "The packing is nothing short of a monstrosity," commented Graseck. "I spent nine hours packing MCAS tests." Burkel asked why it took so long. "The instructions were long, and also the state's web site crashed," answered Graseck. He explained there were 16 different types of MCAS tests and the work packaging the tests is required to be done by principals only. They were required to use only newspaper to pad the tests in the shipping boxes. The staff couldn't find any at first, but then discovered they had "plenty of Mosquitos," getting a laugh from the audience.
Hurley said, "I am so impressed by how Carlisle teachers deal with this [MCAS testing]." She said the teachers made sure the kids were not stressed. "The staff didn't complain about the disruption," added Slack. "For example the library was closed because it was being used for testing."
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito