Friday, September 24, 2010
Regional School Committee shorts, September 14
• Bus snafu. Superintendent Diana Rigby issued a public apology for transportation problems among students at the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) when she spoke to the Regional School Committee (RSC) on September 14. The regional district has a new Transportation Manager, Spyros Saucier. This summer the bus schedule and routing software were upgraded. During training sessions this summer, one of the software trainers accidentally deleted the portion of the database that had historic exceptions to the two-mile radius walk-to-school rule (example: students do not cross Rt. 2 to get to school). This caused a cascade effect, including reducing the number of buses and bus drivers, assigning new bus stops, assigning students to walk up to two miles to school on sometimes dangerous roads, and, in Carlisle, over-crowding of buses and fluid bus schedules. Students were picked up late, early or not at all. Adjustments are continuing, Rigby said, including hiring more bus drivers. She said Carlisle students have experienced crowded buses and fluctuations in schedules. “We want every child and parent to be happy bus riders,” she said. “We encourage parents to call us to report problems,” she added.
• Enrollment declines slightly.
Total CCHS enrollment as of September 10 was 1,223, roughly 2% less than last year. However, in reviewing the increased enrollment of Concord’s Willard School, the RSC raised concerns about the MSBA’s projected enrollment of 1,225 for the high school building project. Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations John Flaherty suggested working with Carlisle’s John Ballantine on enrollment projections.
• Staff retention. Kelly McCausland of Human Resources said five teachers and four support staff have been hired for the 2010 – 2011 school year. Of the five teachers, two are beginning teachers, two have one to nine years experience and one has more than ten years experience. “How many applications do we get for a position?” asked committee member Louis Salemy. “We get far fewer applications for foreign language, special administration and science, but for elementary level positions we can get 600 applications,” McCausland replied. “Math is a critical shortage area,” she added.
McCausland presented a historical overview of CCHS teacher and support staff separation and retention. In the past three school years the retention rate has been 98%.
• Federal grant. Rigby said the high school has received a grant of $132,884 from the Federal Jobs Funding. Contacted later, she explained that receiving the grant “allowed us to keep 0.5 Full-Time-Equivalent (FTE) Science and 0.25 (FTE) Theater teachers and hire a part-time music lab supervisor and bus driver. We will also be able to increase the 0.5 FTE Technology Specialist to full time during the second semester.”
• Substitute teachers. McCausland introduced the committee to “Aesop,” which is an Internet-based teacher substitute assignment system. CCHS teachers can access the system at any time and log their intended absences. Substitute teachers registered with CCHS and the system can choose or decline the substitute opportunity. Teachers can specify their five “favorite” substitutes, McCausland said. Those subs will be first to receive the automated call. “They get first dibs on the job,” she explained. “We get top substitutes,” said Rigby. “The teachers can plan ahead of time” with this system “so we always get the best subs.” Substitutes are paid $100 per day, she added.
• Repairs. Facilities Director Dave Anderson said air conditioning units for the CCHS chorus and band rooms have been added. Work still in progress includes “roof interim remediation” and upgrading the partitions in the bathrooms. Salemy commented, “The roof has been put off forever.” Flaherty said the school will need an open contract with the roofing company this year to patch the roofs.
• Mission, goals approved. The committee voted to approve the Mission Statement, Core Values and 2010 – 2011 district goals for both the Concord and Concord-Carlisle regional school districts. Contacted later Rigby said, “The district goals will be posted on the website.” The mission statement: “The mission of the Concord Public Schools and the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, as partners with our families and communities, is to maximize each student’s opportunities for intellectual and personal development, so as to perform effectively in and become productive citizens of a rapidly changing world, by providing a rigorous and varied educational experience as measured against best educational practices, guided by highly competent and caring staff in a supportive and safe environment consistent with the communities’ historic commitment to social consciousness, mutual respect, intellectualism, and public education.”
• Votes. The committee voted to appoint member Peter Fischelis as contract negotiator for the tutors at the high school. The tutors now belong to a union. The committee voted to appoint member Pamela Gannon as negotiator for the secretaries’ contract.
• CCHS building project tour. August 27 was declared “a great day” due to the positive result from having MSBA officials tour the CCHS campus (see “MSBA Chairman gives verbal green light to major CCHS renovation,” September 10, 2010). CCHS officials now expect that the high school building project will be removed from the “repair” category and put on the “new school renovation” list. Rigby, noting a complete new school will not be built, said, “We will renovate what we can save.” Salemy said, “The $250,000 [for the master plan] was money well spent.” RSC and CCHS Building Committee member Jerry Wedge said, “The first real step is when we get approval. Then we have to get the enrollment projections.”
He added that the building committee must advertise for an owner project manager (OPM). A subcommittee will be formed to review applications for an OPM. The subcommittee meetings will be public and will be posted, he said later. Salemy said the “overriding goal should be sustainability.” He said the building should last 50 – 75 years, the project should “maximize the amount” of renovations versus new construction and the building should be energy-efficient.
• Race to the Top. The district has been allotted $11,000 from the federal Race to the Top program. ∆
© 2010 The