Call to Order
– Alison, Joyce, Lynne and Chris attended.
-Minutes from December and January approved.
– We are working on getting more people to come to our meet and greet times after the meeting. Our February meeting was cancelled so we didn’t have a meet and greet, but there will be one after our April evening meeting. We’re considering swapping our June meeting so it will be an evening meeting, so we can have a social afterward.
a. Gibbs/Ottoson Transition Nights – Kristen DiFrancisco is hosting one meeting for the 5th to 6th grade and 6th to 7th grade transitions.
b. Mindfulness workshop with Carla Leone
c. Summer Camp/Recreation opportunities
APS Staff Reports:
– The special ed portion of the middle to high school transition night happens after the main presentation. On March 22nd they’re hosting a separate meeting for transition from 8th to high school for the REACH program.
– MRC (Mass Rehab Commission) is coming to the high school again on March 20th to talk about work opportunities for students. LABBB is looking into becoming one of the vendors with MRC.
Len Kardon School Committee – Budget:
– Five Year Budget Plan – student population has grown by 27% over the last 10 years. Releasing a five year plan ahead of the June operating override vote gives us the opportunity to change the funding agreement with the town to one driven by our current student needs.
– Priorities include addressing enrollment growth, improving instruction for students, closing the achievement gap, creating safe and supportive schools and attracting/developing talented staff.
a. Enrollment Growth – Enrollment is expected to grow by another 10% over the next five years, putting the 15 year growth rate at close to 40%.
-Priorities include keeping class sizes below 25 students for elementary/middle school and below 27 for high school core classes, increasing the number of elective classes offered, keeping caseloads of counselors below 300, keeping caseloads of nurses/specialists stable and having part-time assistant principals at all the elementary schools.
b. Improving Instruction for Students – It has been difficult in recent years to implement modern instruction strategies since most additional funding has gone toward addressing enrollment growth. Arlington seeks to address this by:
-Funding library book budget to support better access to current and culturally relevant materials.
-Updating curriculum materials
-Adding a librarian/digital learning specialist at each elementary school
-Expanding computer science instruction at middle schools
c. Close Achievement Gap – Arlington will address gaps in achievement affecting low-income students, English language learners and students with disabilities by:
-Improving interventions by adding additional literacy/math coaches at each elementary school and by adding Harbor (for students with school avoidance) and Shortstop (for students returning from extended absences) programs at Ottoson.
-Adding directors in all areas, admin support, science/social studies coaches and data manager
-Giving each elementary school their own music/art specialists will add another special each week, which allows for planning time for the grade level teams.
-Improving Special Education Services by increasing number of inclusion teachers, increasing SLC staffing, adding Assistant Director of Special Education
d. Create safe and supportive schools by adding social workers/lead counselor at high school, fund social emotional learning professional development/programming, and add part-time admin assistants at elementary schools to free up principals to address social emotional issues.
e. Attract and develop talented staff by providing additional $500,000 funding annually for professional development and by bringing APS salaries closer to the average levels in comparable districts in order to improve recruiting and retention.
-Money will come primarily from property tax revenues, some money from the state (Chapter 70). A small amount of funding comes from grants, Circuit Breaker, AEF. Currently discussing additional funding (over 1.2 million left over after expenses) that we can get with the town. If a budget override passes, we can spend more.
– There will be two separate budget questions on the ballot in June. One will be the $800/year increase to pay for the high school (30 year mortgage). This will go into effect when we start borrowing money for rebuilding the high school. Another will be an additional $200-$400/year override vote to pay for expenses which will go into effect immediately if it passes.
Public Participation/New Business/Open Discussion:
– Dr. Bodie said that Mr. Thielman (sp?) is looking into a time that he can come to a meeting and speak with the group.