School Committee sets goals for current year
Shrewsbury – With the school year underway, the Shrewsbury School Committee gave its final approval on the goals for 2008-2009 at its Sept. 17 meeting.
It was far from the first time the committee had seen the proposed goals, however.
"It's been a shared process," committee Chair Mark Murray said. "We've worked with all the shareholders."
Superintendent Dr. Anthony Bent said the process began in the spring, with the district leadership team, and over the summer, the school leadership team and the school committee had a chance to discuss the goals. Finally, the faculty had the chance to review them and comment, he said.
Assistant Superintendent Joseph Sawyer presented the seven goals, along with action items that will be implemented to help achieve them.
The first goal, to advance curriculum and instructional practices that promote high standards and equity, will include implementing a new reading program in kindergarten and first grade, working to improve the consistency of expectations and grading throughout the system, and continuing curriculum review for social sciences and language arts.
For the second goal, to improve academic performance for all the schools and subgroups as measured by MCAS tests, the district will develop a process to identify students who don't meet standards, give them the help they need and assess their progress.
"We're trying to find some ways to make [the changes] reasonable and efficacious," Sawyer said.
The third goal is to improve programs to meet the needs of diff erent students across the board, "including English language learners, students with disabilities and high achieving students."
"This whole goal refers to the notion that one size does not fit all," Bent said. "The goal is all about trying to meet the needs of all the students in our school system."
Goal four is "to support the continuous improvement of professional practice," including new observation practices, said Thomas M. Kennedy, director of human resources. Part of that process will be successfully negotiating a new contract with the teachers' bargaining unit, he said.
A goal close to Bent's heart is the fifth one, "to strengthen the district's global education," he said. In addition to expanding the Mandarin Chinese language program at the High School, Bent said, he hopes the district will be able to have a student exchange to China.
Anne Mahan, director of business services, discussed the sixth goal, to improve the safety and security in the schools. She said that a number of teachers took part in crisis assistance training to be of help after a crisis.
Bent noted that the 17 teachers volunteered for the training on their own time for this particular type of assistance.
"This is not dealing with the crisis of the moment," he said, "but dealing with the people who've been affected."
Goal seven involves meet the district facility needs. District official s ar e pursuing state assistance with renovating or replacing Sherwood Middle School, Mahan said.
The district will also study long- and short-term space needs aff ected by programming recommendations.
In other business
The committee reviewed the statistics on the transportation program. Mahan reported that the district distributed 4,425 passes, and as of Sept. 10 had collected $496,200 in fees, of which more than $13,000 was in late fees. The fees cover only about 20 percent of the transportation costs, she said.
Committee member Marion Smith said she had been asked by a parent if late buses could be reinstated.
Mahan reported that the last time late buses ran was in 2003, for three days a week from October through May. In 2006, the bid for that service was $180 a day, which would translate to a per student cost of $162 a year, if the bus were filled to capacity, she said. That figure is based on the two-year-old bid, and the amount would likely be higher to reflect higher gas costs.
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