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Thursday, January 18, 2007

1/18/07 Greenwich Board Of Education News


TIME: January 11, 2007, 7:00 p.m.

PLACE: Havemeyer Board Room

Board: Mrs. Colleen Giambo, Chairman
Mrs. Leslie B. Moriarty, Vice Chairman
Mrs. Nancy Weissler, Secretary
Mr. Steven B. Anderson
Mr. Michael C. Bodson
Dr. Susan S. Ellis
Ms. Virginia L. Gwynn
Mr. William G. Kelly

Dr. Betty J. Sternberg, Superintendent of Schools
Mrs. Kathleen Greider, Deputy Superintendent
Mr. John Curtin, Assistant Superintendent
Ms. Mary Forde, Director, Pupil Personnel Services
Dr. Susan Wallerstein, Asst. Supt., Business Services
Ms. Kim Eves, Director, Communications
Mr. Richard Calcavecchio, Director, Budget and Systems

Other: Mrs. Janice Richards, Mrs. Kristen Kratky, PTA Council; Mrs. Wen Hsu, ISD PTA; Mr. Ken Borsuk, Greenwich Post, and a representative from Greenwich Time. An attendance list is on file in the Superintendent’s Office.

The meeting was called to order by Mrs. Giambo, Chairman, at 7:05 p.m.

1. Monitoring Reports

a. E-051 – District Administrative Operations

Dr. Wallerstein began the discussion by informing the Board that the principal sources of data for the report are the Preventative Maintenance Program, the Online Maintenance and Repair Data System, and consultations with Principals and the school community. In addition, as facilities undergo major upgrades and renovations, the capital and maintenance schedules are adjusted accordingly. The Administration has completed the space utilization study for the elementary schools and one of the middle schools; the remaining schools should be completed by mid-year.

· Transportation: The discussion focused on the criteria for granting access to free bus transportation to students even when the distance between home and school is within acceptable walking limits. Dr. Wallerstein explained that students on those routes that are deemed unsafe according to the Police Department and the Safe Routes to Schools study are automatically granted access. However, if a parent is concerned about the safety of a route that does not meet this criteria, he or she may apply to the District for a courtesy pass for their student.
· Facilities: Dr. Wallerstein explained that the online Maintenance and Repair Data System has allowed the District to more efficiently deploy its resources to maintain the buildings. In response to concerns cited in the Harris Survey about the cleanliness of some of the buildings, the District intends to provide some additional training for its custodial staff. In addition, the Administration is looking at staggering hours of the staff to minimize overtime.In response to a question about the rental of school facilities by non-profits, Dr. Wallerstein noted 1) the online rental program is working well, 2) potential users are notified annually of procedures and rental rates, and 3) feedback from non-profits about the process has been positive.
· Food Services: In response to a question about the current level of student satisfaction with the GHS cafeteria, Dr. Wallerstein indicated that the Administration has been working with two student groups to address their concerns about the food and that many of the issues that had resulted from the implementation of the new Food Guidelines in the fall appear to have been resolved.
· Communication: In the Harris Survey, the teachers and staff reported that they were not satisfied with their level of communication with the Board, Superintendent, and Administration. Ms. Eves indicated that the Administration will describe its strategy to address this problem in a monitoring report to be issued later this year.In response to questions about the rollout of the teacher homework pages on the web site, Ms. Eves reported that while most middle schools had posted their class assignments on the web site, many of GHS teachers had been slower to do so.
· Policy Governance Issues: The monitoring report for E-051 included a list of policy governance issues; it was the consensus of the Board that the Policy Governance Committee should review these issues with the Administration and bring back its recommendations to the Board.
· Other Feedback on the E-051 Monitoring Report: Members of the Board commended Dr. Wallerstein and Ms. Eves for doing an excellent job in the report providing the relevant analysis and highlighting the key policy and management issues. However, Board members noted that they would expect to see more detailed analyses and data in a monitoring report that addressed the academic arenas.

2. Success System Arenas: a. Whole Student Development

In discussing the draft report, Mr. Curtin acknowledged that it is inherently difficult to identify indicators for whole student development because progress in this area cannot be readily quantified. Nevertheless, this should become easier as we implement the rubric that has been developed for social emotional learning (SEL) over the next several years. It was also noted that since some of the proposed indicators are based on data from the Harris Survey that this would be available only on a biannual basis. The discussion then turned to a consideration of the indicators proposed in the report:
· Student Satisfaction and Attendance: Regarding student satisfaction measures, Board members thought that while they are important to track, they are not necessarily indicative of progress in whole student development. As a result, it was suggested that these measures be either deemphasized or eliminated. As for attendance measures, Board members thought that elementary and middle school attendance measure were more reflective of parent practices and were, therefore, not reflective of whole student development.
· Disciplinary Offenses and Risky Behavior: Board members indicated that while the goal of whole student development is to promote positive behavior and character development, it is also important to track disciplinary offenses as well as any substantial variation in incidence by subgroup. It was also agreed that the Administration would review the data from the Harris Survey that tracks students’ self reporting of risky behavior (e.g., substance abuse) to develop an indicator for inclusion in this area.
· Extracurricular activities: The Administration indicated that it is working on developing a meaningful indicator for this area. Their efforts to do so have been complicated by: 1) the lack of reliable data on student participation in extracurricular activities and 2) the broad nature of this category, which can be defined to include sports and in-school and out-of-school extracurricular activities. It was also agreed that it would be important to include an indicator that captures differences in participation rates by subgroup.

b. Aligning Adults

· Indicators: The discussion focused on identifying the key indicators that measured the extent to which teachers, staff, and parents were working together to achieve the same goals. One suggestion was to include as an indicator the RTM acceptance of the budget, which would evidence the community’s support for funding the District’s educational programs.

Review Planning/Implementation, January 2006-June 2008

In response to questions, Dr. Sternberg elaborated on some of the existing and proposed initiatives:

· Acquisition of 21st Century Skills: would include both the laptop initiative and assessments of students’ information, communication, and technological skills
· Expanding Secondary Educational Opportunities: would include a review of both the middle schools and Greenwich High School as well as the school start time issue
· Strengthening and Expanding Access to ALP: would begin with an independent evaluation of the current program and best practices
· Restructuring Schedules: is focusing on adjusting schedules so that grade level teachers can meet to share best practices

MOTION: It was moved by Mrs. Weissler and seconded by Mrs. Moriarty
to extend the time of the meeting by 15 minutes.

VOTE: 8 in favor, none opposed MOTION CARRIED

Mrs. Giambo also advised the Board that not only had the First Selectman recommended that the current Senior Center be used for the Havemeyer Staff, but he has also had Gisolfi Architectural firm looking at the building to investigate its feasibility.

In agenda planning, it was decided that the following issues would be added: 1) an update on knowledge and skills based compensation in March, 2) the annual Special Education report in April, and 3) an update from the Greenwich Alliance in June.

MOTION: It was moved by Ms. Gwynn and seconded by Mrs. Moriarty to move into Executive Session to discuss the Superintendent’s Evaluation at 9:20 p.m.

VOTE: 8 in favor, none opposed MOTION CARRIED

Upon motion duly made by Mrs. Moriarty and seconded by Mrs. Weissler, the Board moved back into Public Session at 10:05 p.m.

Upon motion duly made by Ms. Gwynn and seconded by Mr. Anderson, the meeting was adjourned at 10:07 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Weissler

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