The School Committee approved a $515,000 Advancement Budget that would move the district forward by “emphasizing early literacy achievement, closing proficiency gaps, and advancing science, technology, engineering and math initiatives. Superintendent Gormley made the presentation which came out of the Finance subcommittee. It was presented independently of the larger overall budget which will be taken up next week.
The three initiatives (literacy, closing gap, & STEM) were all presented with a citing of research to support the initiative, an identification of the need, and the resources required to address that need. For example, School Library Impact Studies conclude that school libraries have a “positive impact on student outcomes . . .promote achievement, . . . and close the achievement gap.” According to Gormley 29% of MPS 4th graders scored below proficient on the their Gr 3 ELA MCAS. The resources to address this include hiring 2 literacy specialists and an additional elementary librarian. (Note: Currently there is only one elementary librarian for the 4 schools. The schools at one time had 4 librarians).
The total budget total for the three initiatives covers staff hires (4FTE – in addition to the 2 specialists and librarian, there is a STEM curriculum administrator) and curriculum, professional development training, and assessment materials.
Presenting this portion of the budget in isolation confused some committee members. Member Sheridan said approval was “moot point” as it was not part of the overall budget. Member Kelly apologized for the failure to communicate the process. Member Walker said “You need to trust us.” He said there were unique considerations to the budget this year. The Warrant Committee has requested a level dollar budget of all departments. This advancement budget is intended, according to Kelly, to be the request if the administration could get funding to move the schools forward and specifically how it would be done. The Warrant Committee had a deadline of 12/1 for a draft of budgets from departments. The School Committee requested a 2 week extension. The schools make up almost half of the town budget according to Chair Pavlicek.
In other business the committee:
- Congratulated the football team on the strong finish to their season. They also congratulated Andrew Mowe, a chorus student who has been selected to perform in the All Easter Division Honor Chorus. He is only the 5th student from Milton in 35 years to be selected. The Eastern Division covers D.C. to Maine. It is the best of the best. Music teacher Mr. Goode has been selected to conduct the SEMSBA Festival Concert this year. SEMSBA is a concert performed by students throughout the south shore who audition to be included.
- Principal Sheehan of the Collicot School presented here site council plan. Collicot was one of the schools recognized by the state for its high academic performance and closing achievement gaps.Ms. Sheehan said that attention would be put on improving “open response” questions across all grades in both ELA and math. She will also be putting special attention on closing gaps for special needs subgroup.
- The committee reviewed the Superintendent’s goals and had issues with how some of the metrics for measuring achievement were defined. The goals will be taken up in their meeting next week.