The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 2, 2009

RSC considers limits on communication with CCHS staff

At their meeting on September 22, Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) members discussed communication protocol. They debated whether or not it was appropriate to engage in informal talks with individuals on the staff at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS).

RSC member Peter Fischelis was in favor of informal conversations. “There are plenty of topics they want to inform us on . . . I gathered a lot of good feedback. I have a much better sense of how the schools were running.”

RSC member Jerry Wedge disagreed. He reminded the committee that informal conversations had been encouraged originally to help set the criteria for hiring a new superintendent. However, he said it was quite different now and he did not think informal discussions on the superintendent were a good way to evaluate the school superintendent.

RSC member Pam Gannon said, “It directly violates our policy.” RSC member Louis Salemy agreed. He said that he would feel more comfortable if the superintendent was present during an informal conversation.

Wedge replied that he did not want the RSC to meddle with the staff. Fischelis agreed, but still would find it useful to get unfiltered data from a major constituency.

Gannon suggested doing a survey. RSC member Fabian Fondriest was against a survey, saying that surveys are anonymous which allow participants to take cheap shots.

Superintendent Diana Rigby said there were a variety of ways to get unfiltered data. One way is to come to the teas she holds for parents, students and teachers where attendees are encouraged to talk about issues. She said the RSC is welcome to come to these.

RSC Chair Jan McGinn was reached by phone after the meeting. She said that there is a consensus among her colleagues that there will no longer be informal conversations between teachers and members of the RSC about the superintendent. RSC members “will discuss [with teachers] only issues with their contracts.” McGinn explained that teacher input is not part of the annual superintendent evaluation.

Graduation robes

Are graduation robes necessary for school administration, teachers and school committee members? Student Senate member Sophie Gechijian told the RSC that the senate was brain-storming ways to raise money to pay for graduation robes for the teachers, an expense previously covered by the school budget. She thought this line item had been cut to save about $3,000-$4,000. She said some people did not think it was important to maintain the custom and Wedge agreed,“I don’t think I need to wear [a graduation robe].” He thought a suit would be sufficient.

Freshman orientation

CCHS Principal Peter Badalament praised Physics teacher Brian Miller for organizing Freshman Orientation Day and the 25 teachers and roughly 40 students who helped run the many activities. Freshmen come a day before school starts and participate in a variety of team-building activities. This program is only a few years old and is very well received. “I have gotten some really positive feedback from parents. This is a great way to start the year,” said Badalament.

Student exchange

Last semester, students from France spent February vacation week and the following week with CCHS students, immersing themselves in English and the American culture. In April, CCHS students went to France for two weeks and immersed themselves in the French language and culture. Two CCHS French teachers, Rhonda Penaud and Caitlin Smith, along with two students, junior Alison Silver and senior Anna Stabler spoke about their experiences. The students both said their French had greatly improved while in France. Their immersion experiences, seeing how kids interact with each other in French schools and how each host family ran its household, the foods they ate, really opened their eyes. Stabler thanked the teachers for arranging the exchange and immersion experiences. Penaud said the contact with culture and history was a great connection for students. The teachers thanked the RSC for their support. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito