The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shorts from the Carlisle School Committee, Sept. 17

• Fifth grade. At the September 17 meeting of the Carlisle School Committee Middle School Principal Joyce Mehaffey reported on the addition of fifth graders to the Student Council. “The fifth graders have always been in somewhat of a limbo,” she explained. “They are on the middle school schedule, but they can’t do a lot of things.” In a meeting with fifth-grade teachers and fifth-grade advisors, Special Educator Tracy Malone and School Counselor Kim Reid, the team decided to add fifth graders to the student council. “The fifth graders still can’t participate in the dances,” explained Mehaffey. “But we are thinking about how to have them participate [in other events], like in car washes. I think it really contributes to us being a community, which is a focus this year.”

• English Language Learners. Karen Slack, director of Student Services, reported that 14 students have been identified as needing services through the English Language Learners (ELL) program, with five more students to be tested. Last year 15 students received services. The Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) requires all public schools to have an ELL program. Students whose first language is other than English, or have a language other than English spoken at home, are tested for English proficiency and may qualify for services. Slack pointed out the program is an “immersion English” or “sheltered English” program, and not a bilingual program in which teachers speak the language of the student. She said all classroom teachers who have ELL students must receive “sheltered English” training. “The ELL teacher serves as resource for classroom teachers,” she explained. Committee member Dale Ryder asked if ELL students take a foreign language. Slack said some do, but some students who are receiving services may make an “individual decision” to not take a language until they have mastered English.

• New SPED program. Slack reported on a new Carlisle School special education program called “Bridge to Pathways.” She explained it is a “specialized program with an intent to prepare students with severe special needs who may need a level of functional skills to enter into the high school with a solid basis of preparation for some of the programming they have there.” She invited the CSC members to “take a tour of the program.” Carlisle teacher Steve Peck, working under a grant, has modified the middle school English language arts and math curriculum for this program. As the lead teacher of the program, he will next modify the science and social studies curriculum. Peck has shared the program with the high school. “The high school is very excited about this,” Slack said.

• Sharing the wastewater plant. School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman reported that she is forming a Technical Wastewater Treatment Facility Advisory Committee to assist in hiring an operator for the facility. Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie and Board of Health member Bill Risso requested permission from the CSC to investigate the possibility of hooking up the Gleason Library to the wastewater treatment facility. “Will the school incur any costs?” asked Ryder. Committee member Bill Fink replied it would not unless there were additional operational or maintenance charges. He added that the plant would run better with more usage. “I love the out-of-the-box thinking,” replied Ryder. The committee will vote on McKenzie’s request at the October 1 meeting. “We’re happy to share our bugs with you,” said Doyle.

• Lockdown drill. Elementary Principal Patrice Hurley notified the committee of a planned “lockdown drill,” to be held on September 18. The entire school participates in the drill, which trains students to respond to an identified threat by entering safe and lockable spaces such as classrooms and offices. Ryder thanked the school administration for sending out an email to parents regarding the upcoming drill. “It was extremely helpful,” she said. “It’s really nice to have that in advance.”

• Bus fee deficit; small kindergarten fee profit. Zimmerman reported a possible deficit of over $6,500 for the middle school bus service. A smaller than expected number of seventh and eighth graders are paying the $395 per student fee (second family member fee is $197.50). The school is not required to transport seventh and eighth grade students and is therefore allowed to charge a fee for bus service.

Zimmerman said the afternoon kindergarten program has 100% participation, with each family paying $760 per student. This has resulted in $953 excess revenue, reported Zimmerman. She said the extra money could be used for supplies for the afternoon session.

• CSC goals for 2008 – 2009. The CSC voted to accept the following goals for 2008 – 2009:

• Keep the school building project moving forward to meet the educational needs of the town’s children.

• Resolve budget issues, including a three-year budget projection.

• Develop a process for communication with CCHS regarding how well our students are prepared for high school, and encourage cross-community dialogues at all grade levels.

• Respectfully agree on a new teachers’ contract.

• Continue the organizational review process with facilitator John Littleford which began earlier this year.

• October 1 meeting. At the October 1 CSC meeting, the committee will have a presentation from the Concord-Carlisle High School, a discussion of the superintendent evaluation process, and will spend time on policy reviews. CCHS Principal Peter Badalament and school department heads will address the question of how well Carlisle students are prepared for high school, said Doyle in an email. “Diana and I would like to make this an annual event,” she added, referring to CCHS Superintendent Diana Rigby. The School Committee’s meeting grid, on which each meeting’s discussion topics are documented, is available online at: ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito