New Administrators Welcomed
Superintendent David Fleishman introduced new Director of Information Technology Leo Brehm and new Cabot Elementary Principal Dr. Mary Lou DiBella to the committee. Brehm, who is currently Director of Technology in the Sharon Public Schools, has a lot of experience with blended learning and 1:1 laptops, Fleishman said, and has the "ability to implement a broad vision for technology."
DiBella, who is currently principal at Holland Elementary School in Western Massachusetts, has already met with some parents and staff at , Fleishman said. "Lou," as she prefers to be called, "has a key understanding of teaching and learning and an ability to understand all students," Fleishman said.
Preschool Program Praised
Newton Early Childhood Program Director Michael Thurm gave a presentation to the School Committee Monday highlighting the programs in the Newton Public Schools' preschool program. As of May 1 of this year, Thurm said there is currently 269 students enrolled in the program, which is held at both the and .
Committee members praised the work of the preschool, including Jonathan Yeo who said the "program lives up to the high standards of the Newton Public Schools." Thurm noted, though, despite the fact that the staff is "very resourseful," the program faces struggles of shifting between two locations as well as tough impacts from the fiscal 2012 budget.
Overview of Common Core
The committee received details and information Monday night on Common Core, a set of standards in reading, writing, language, speaking and listening that help prepare kids K-12 for college and careers. Forty-three states in the country have adopted these standards and Massachusetts adopted its standards in July of 2010.
As the committee grapples with costs and plans regarding modular classrooms at elementary schools and expansion/construction at F.A. Day Middle School, Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff underlined that a final decision has yet to be made. The latest report Monday night was that the School and Building Departments were still looking at finalizing a project schedule and looking at building conditions. A more comprehensive update is due at the next meeting on May 23, Fleishman said. However, the School Committee announced yesterday it will hold a special meeting on short-term facilities Mon., May 16 at 8 p.m. in the Education Center.
Sokoloff said the committee is urging a recommendation from the School Department as quickly as possible so the committee and Board of Aldermen can vote on the plan and construction can move forward, hopefully in time for modular classrooms to be installed by September.
Deputy Superintendent Postion Approved
Although there was some question as to why the committee needed to approve of the new hire, new Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning got the official thumbs up from the committee, pending completion of contract negotiations.