When the School Committee agenda came to old business Mr. Huban brought up the issue of his arrest on New Year’s Day. He recounted the event and the subsequent meetings he had. He is attending meetings on a weekly basis. He reiterated that it was a personal matter. To the committee, the administration and the audience at large he said, “I am truly sorry.”
He thanked all those who have expressed their support. During Citizen Speak three individuals including former committee member Jeff Cruikshank voiced support for Huban and their desire to see him remain on the board. One individual, Dr. John Knight, Director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children’s Hospital, stated Mr. Huban should resign his position. In his remarks Mr. Huban said he appreciated the comments from those who said he should resign and would incorporate them “in making myself a better person.” He closed by repeating, “I am working to make myself a better person.”
In other business the School Committee heard from PAC. PAC is the Parent Advisory Committee on Special Education. PAC presented the Committee with a comprehensive letter detailing progress made and concerns going forward. Kimberly Zieselman, who has special needs twins in the schools, presented on behalf of PAC. She identified the progress made with co-taught classrooms at the elementary level, the addition of the New England Center for Children (NECC) classroom at Collicot, the improved communication such as the mention of special ed status in Ms. Gormley’s email blast of last November. Ms. Zieselman also listed a series of concerns. Chief among them were the risk of special ed initiatives being chipped away as a result of fiscal pressures on the district. She also flagged the achievement gap as evidenced by lack of AYP progress at Pierce, Collicot, and Glover. Communication while improved, could be better. For example, there was a world language committee formed but without any representation from special needs parents.
Ms. Sheridan, School Committee chair, responded to Ms. Zieselman’s suggestion of a special needs site council by encouraging her to have PAC parents become involved in existing school site councils. Mr. Lovely pressed hard on the issue of the schools being responsive to the needs of PAC parents. His question was whether the perceived issue was with a lack of resources or a the fact that existing resources were not as efficient as they could be. He was clear that given the current financial climate that additional resources would be hard to come by. He acknowledged that improving the efficiency of existing capacity was an option.
You can find the full text of the PAC letter to the School Committee here.
In addition, highlights from the meeting include but were not limited to:
- Principa Jette, Dr. Spaulding, and Pierce parent Mr. McCarthy presented the Pierce School Improvement plan as members of the Pierce Site Council. The plan focused on improvement in mathematics where Pierce students are flagging. They noted that mathematics achievement at the middle school level is an issue state wide though “that is not an excuse.” The presentation included steps to be taken to improve achievement, engage teachers, engage students, and engage families and the community.
- Subcommittee updates included; Ms. Bagley-Jones updated group on donation of 6 defibrilators from Milton Hospital. There will also be training on use. Ms.Bagley-Jones also voiced concerns of cuts in health education. “Our kids are getting less and less every year.” Mr. Pavlicek noted that the building subcommittee was working hard to put itself out of business. Ms. Kelly’s update on the finance subcommittee included the need to provide the Warrant Committee with backup documentation for $35 million budget. The assumption is that there will be level funding which will require $1.9 million in cuts. She also reiterated that the possibility could be there will be less than level funding due to additional state cuts in aid; but that they have not even entertained that option in current discussions as it is premature.