Five Things You Missed at School Committee: Ligerbots Fee, Teacher Evaluations
Information on a new teacher evaluation process as well as the superintendent's summary of the district's achievements for the school year.
Monday night's School Committee meeting included a lengthy update from Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan on the various facilities projects going on around the district.
Here are five other items of note from Monday night's meeting, which was the last meeting of the school year:
1. After pleas from local students and parents to keep the Ligerbots program running, school administrators said Monday night they are looking into the possibility of charging students fees to participate on the Ligerbots FIRST Robotics team.
During a recent meeting, parents and students explained that coaching the Ligerbots is extremely demanding, which is driving the coaches away. As of right now, the team may not continue next year as there are no coaches currently on board.
Superintendent David Fleishman said the administration is still considering other options and has not finalized its decision on fees. However, due to the demanding schedule and coaching responsibilities, the administration is looking at the Ligerbots team like a sports team. Sports teams in the high schools currently charge fees for participation.
2. The School Department's Director of Human Resources Heather Richards presented the School Committee with the administration's adjustments to the new teacher evaluation process, which is mandated through the federal Race to the Top program.
As a Race to the Top community, Newton had to accept the new teacher evaluation process as well as a new superintendent evaluation process.
According to Richards, the administration decided to "enhance" the evaluation rubric provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Although it will mean more work for evaluations, Richards said it fits into Newton's standards for teaching and evaluating.
Richards noted that the DESE will still have to approve the language changes Newton has proposed.
For more details on the evaluation process and changes, check out the .pdf above.
"[The evaluation process] is more tailored to Newton and it's going to work well with us," said School Committee member Jonathan Yeo. "I think this really is a model. Many towns, I'm sure, just took the language and approved it. We've improved this greatly."
The superintendent's model was not adjusted much, Richards said, and all evaluation models were passed with the local teacher unions.
The committee approved both evaluation models unanimously.
3. Superintendent David Fleishman presented his end of year highlights to the School Committee, outlining some of the district's achievements in 2011-2012 and its goals for next year.
Fleishman touched on a number of areas including student services, technology and professional development. Over the next year, Fleishman said the district hopes to work on more interventions, revising some curriculums and adding more professional development opportunities.
To review a copy of Fleishman's presentation, click the .pdf above.
4. Following a recent discussion about the district's current background check procedures and the recommendations from a Background Investigation Team, the School Committee voted unanimously Monday night to adopt the city's current Criminal Offense Record (CORI) policy. This will align the CORI check policies for both the city and the School Department.
To view the CORI policy, click the .pdf above.
5. A number of residents appeared the School Committee meeting Monday night to express their concern about the decision to include an excerpt from the Arab World Studies notebook in the Newton South ninth grade social studies curriculum. The group has shown up to meetings all school year to send the same message to the committee about how they felt the text was "anti-Semitic" and inappropriate.
However, Superintendent Fleishman underlined that the text had been removed from the curriculum late last year after there was an outcry against its use. Fleishman noted this at a meeting back in November.