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Chairman Wants Public Input On School Committee Priorities


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The following is a portion of the Aug. 18, 2014 Westford School Committee meeting. For links to other parts of the meeting, click here.

8:01 p.m. – School Committee Chairman Tom Clay then talked about this fall’s calendar and asked if any topics should be removed or added to future agendas.

The topics were

–          New Teacher Pay Equity Benchmarks

–          The Technology Plan

–          Full-Day Kindergarten

–          Security Plan and Timeline

–          Differentiated Learning

–          A Leadership Institute


And said there may be others.

Harkness said the first four require conversation throughout town. However, she said that differentiated learning issue might not require decision making from the board and was unsure of what discussion was needed on the institute.

Olsen then talked about the technology plan and said that it may provide more online courses. He said that new programs would require thorough training in differentiated instruction and that parents would need to be informed on new programs introduced.

Clay said that the items were on the list because they were significant issues, although they were different than the security plan.

Kohl then said that the education of the students is an obligation to parents and students and curriculum is something within the board’s purview.

She then had a comment on the Full-Day Kindergarten Citizens’ Action Committee.

Keele agreed and disagreed with Kohl on the curriculum, saying that the School Committee should advise on curriculum, but that the Superintendent and leadership should be trusted.

Keele then said that the School Committee should be cautious on what is said publicly for the security plan due to releasing sensitive details that may jeopardize safety.

He then said that the Kindergarten issue may take up to four meetings.

Murray then talked about the cost of the safety plan and said that more information may be needed.

She said that the list was a good one and wanted more information on the benchmarks.

Clay then talked about data that would need to be brought forward, and ultimately said that it would provide information to town staff on what it is.

Ryan said he wanted the technology plan bumped to the top of the list and that the kindergarten issue would likely not be done until the spring.

Olsen said that the technology plan was a priority and that the town’s appropriations would factor in.

He said he’d rather be methodical than buy devices on a large scale.

Kohl hoped that it was not seen as a purchasing plan but rather hoped that it would provide strategy and also focus on what already has been purchased and what can be gotten for free.

Clay said that Olsen’s goal is that the technology plan would provide what classrooms would look like.

Clay then asked about two students who developed new sprinkler technology and then Clay asked the public if they had any questions.

Kristi Bates asked if the public at large was given input on the priorities.

Olsen provided how it was chosen and Clay asked the media in the audience to let the public know that they could e-mail him at tclay@westfordk12.us or Olsen at bolsen@westfordk12.us

8:18 p.m. – Olsen provided an update on the Leadership Summer Institute, saying that he learned much from the assistant superintendent in Burlington.

He said several superintendents learned how to use Twitter and learned how to blog.

Clery added that administrators in Westford would get regular training throughout the year.

Olsen went on talk about District Determined Measures, or DDMs, student feedback on teachers and staff feedback on administrators as part of the new professional evaluation system.

However, the feedback would be part of collective bargaining that has not been agreed upon yet.

Still, he said that would be an important part of professional development.

Olsen said that the Institute also talked about PARCC and MCAS as well as topics that would impact strategic planning.

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