Friday, November 16, 2018

Superintendent's Report 11.14.18

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
November 14, 2018

Academic Tutor for Grade 3 at Stanley:
  • An Academic Tutor is in place and is providing general education targeted support in grade 3.

Hadley School Principal Updates
  • We are pleased to inform you all that Ms. Bebchick and her husband, Currier McEwen, welcomed their baby BOY on Sunday morning, November 11th!
  • Mrs. Huntley, Interim Principal, and Ms. Bebchick had already begun the transition, but with the early arrival of Ms. Bebchick’s son Mrs. Huntley has hit the ground running.
MSBA Update
  • We have unveiled a new School Building Committee website which can be found on the district webpage under the SCHOOLS  and ABOUT US drop-down menus as well as the RESOURCES drop-down menu under Community. I encourage everyone to browse this page for both old and new information.
  • Our School Building Committee has already met twice since our last School Committee meeting and both agendas and minutes from these meetings can be found on the website.
  • Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 10th at 7:30 am at the Middle School. These meetings are open to the public.
Essex County Learning Community (ECLC) - Showcase of Learning
  • Tuesday, December 4th from 3:30-6:30 pm our district along with 5 other districts who were awarded the $25,000 grant will be presenting their action plans for improving the way we serve students with diverse learning needs.  Carin Marshall will be attending with me.
Director of Facilities
  • Max Kasper, Building Commissioner, and Tom Prentiss, Assistant Operations and Maintenance Supervisor will be sharing this position for the remainder of the year.
  • Max will continue to focus on the general government needs while Tom’s focus will be on the school department’s needs. They will continue to collaborate on projects in both areas.
  • We will re-evaluate this position and this model at the end of the year.
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
  • Mrs. Condike is currently enjoying a much-deserved vacation and is hopefully enjoying the sunshine and beaches in her travels.
  • However, I’m saddened to announce that Mrs. Condike has informed me that she is retiring for personal reasons. 
  • Her last day in the district will be Friday, November 30th. 
  • Mrs. Condike has worked tirelessly during the last 2.5 years to move the district forward in many areas including aligning curriculum, beginning analysis of the high school academic programming, strengthening the METCO Program, initiating a math pilot in grades K-5, curriculum mapping, and so much more. She will truly be missed.
  • Currently, I have no plans to fill this position for the remainder of the year. I am currently working with Mrs. Condike to transition her responsibilities to me for the remainder of the year. I will need some assistance with these responsibilities and will update the Committee on my plan once it is established.
National Blue Ribbon Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Kohut, Ms. Mackey, and I attended the Awards Ceremony and Conference last week in Washington.
  • It was an amazing opportunity to be there with the other recipients and actually spend time with our colleagues from Massachusetts - Abington and Minute Man Regional in Lexington. 
  • It wasn’t until we were there that I truly realized what an amazing recognition this is for our school community. One half of 1% of schools in the nation receive this award. Think about that.
  • The high school administration will be forming a committee to discuss ways to honor our students and staff and to celebrate this award throughout the year.
  • Sheila Harrity, former Principal at Worcester Tech - a turnaround school - said something in her workshop that really resonates with me, When your intentions are pure, and you are doing the right things for the right reasons, you become a National Blue Ribbon School.” I think that sums it up!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Superintendent's Report 10.24.18

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
October 24, 2018

Academic Tutor for Grade 3 at Stanley:
  • Another round of interviews is being conducted by Mrs. Longin and her teachers. 
  • Update: 10.25.18 - Mrs. Longin and her team have hired an Academic Tutor who will provide general education targeted support and will begin on Tuesday, November 13th. 
School Business Administrator
  • We look forward to welcoming Ms. Martha Sybert to begin on November 7, 2018.
Interim Hadley Principal
  • I am very pleased to announce that Ms. Kathleen Huntley will be the Interim Principal at Hadley School during Ms. Bebchick’s absence. 
  • Ms. Huntley comes to us with five years of elementary administrator experience from the Westford Public Schools. 
  • She has participated and served on committees at the state level including the Massachusetts Educator Evaluation Committee and the Bullying Legislation Committee. 
  • Mrs. Huntley has also served as an elementary science coordinator at a K-5 school, a middle and high school math and science teacher, and a college professor and university supervisor in a teacher certification program. 
  • As of this time, Ms. Huntley’s interim role will be from November 26th through March 4th with up to 7 transition days with Ms. Bebchick prior to her leave and up to 7 transition days upon Ms. Bebchick’s return. 

MSBA Update
  • Last Monday, October 15th, we had a preliminary enrollment meeting with the MSBA Team in Boston.
  • We have been invited back on November 19th prior to the next deliverable of our Enrollment Certification which is due on November 28th.
  • Our School Building Committee has been approved and we are scheduling a meeting with this committee in the next week or so.
  • Ms. Wright and I are attending an all-day seminar on Monday - The Story of a Building.
Tech Tuesdays/Tech Thursdays
  • Tech Tuesdays/Tech Thursdays will run twice a month after school at SHS (or another building). These sessions will be 45 minutes 2:45-3:30, and each week will be different and guided by REQUESTS from the teachers. 
  •  These sessions are open to ALL employees of SPS who can make the sessions, no matter your role.
  • Dates we have scheduled so far: Tuesday, October 23, Thursday, October 25, Tuesday, November 13, Thursday, November 29, Tuesday, December 11, and Thursday, December 13
MassCUE Conference

Friday, October 12, 2018

Superintendent's Report 10.10.18

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
October 10, 2018

Academic Tutor for Grade 3 at Stanley:
  • There were 13 applicants for the position
  • Only four of the applicants had a background in education
  • All four were interviewed and the classroom teachers were part of the process
  • Mrs. Longin and the teachers were in agreement that unfortunately, they were unable to find a good fit from this pool of candidates
  • We have reposted the position and are widening our search to
  • It should be noted that although this development sets us back on our original timeline, the classroom teachers are feeling confident in how positively the year is going and how important it is to find the right fit so the majority of their time can be spent focused on the students
National Blue Ribbon School
  • Swampscott High School has been named a 2018 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, a designation earned by only .2 percent of schools in the country
  • Swampscott High is one of only 349 schools – including 62 high schools -- nationwide to be honored this year, and one of only three schools in Massachusetts. There are approximately 31,000 high schools and 132,000 schools overall in the U.S.
  • Blue Ribbon schools are honored in one of two performance categories, based on metrics including test scores, attendance, and graduation rate: Exemplary High Performing schools and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing schools. Swampscott was recognized in the latter category
  • The subgroups of students that factor into the achievement gap includes minority (19% of Swampscott students), English not as the primary language (10%), special education (16%) and economically disadvantaged (15%) 
  • This award is a result of the work that has been done over the last 5 years. And although this is an award the high school is receiving, it is really a celebration for the entire faculty and staff of the Swampscott Public Schools

District Crisis Team Meeting
  • As a reminder, each school has their own individual crisis teams made up of members from their schools
  • The District Crisis Team is made up of members from all the schools’ teams as well as town agencies including police, fire, and DPW
  • Our fall meeting was held Monday, October 1st
  • Crisis Response Plans and Medical Emergency Response Plans have been updated and distributed to all members of the District Crisis Team
  • Medical Emergency Response Plans are also submitted to the state on or before September 1st every 3 years but are updated within the district annually
  • Some of our agenda items included: Debrief on the Shelter in Place and Parent Meeting held at Clarke School, continued discussion of bringing Narcan into all schools and the Lead Nurse leading the work for a Narcan protocol for the district sign off by the District Physician Dr. Cheryl D'Souza, and review of our tornado drill
November 6th - Professional Development Day
  • Celebrating Our Differences: Inclusiveness for All
  • Keynote speaker: Chad Hymas - Celebrating Our Differences: Building an Inclusive Community
  • Three breakout sessions with topics including Understanding Bias and Anti-BIas Practices, Understanding Racial Equity, 5 Core Competencies of Social-Emotional Learning, Navigating LBTBQ in the classroom - a student panel, and Culturally based Educational Perspectives - a parent panel to name just a few.
  • School Committee is invited for the Keynote, while we as an entire district navigate these new topics in the breakout sessions.
Interim Hadley Principal
  • We have conducted interviews for the Interim Hadley School Principal in Mrs. Bebchick’s absence
  • Highly qualified candidates
  • Will be making a decision in the next week and hopefully, an announcement at the next School Committee meeting
School Business Administrator
  • We have been working very collaboratively with the general government to collaborate and create efficiencies where possible.
  • We hired Mrs. Julie DeLillo as Director of Human Resources
  • We had hired a Joint Facilities Director whose vacancy we are currently working to fill and we are exploring other areas to create efficiencies
  • One area that we cannot consolidate or create an efficiency is in the position of School Business Administrator 
  • This is a position required by the state and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for school departments
  • There are unique requirements such as licensure and certifications that much be achieved in order to qualify for this position 
  • This position is not a general financial management position. This is a CFO position with highly specific skills distinct to public education which is an extremely demanding and dynamic operation
  • The need for a full-time licensed School Business Administrator who is specially trained in the many content areas where a senior manager needs to be able to support my position 24/7
  • This evening, I bring before you a highly skilled and qualified candidate who I wholeheartedly recommend to you for our next School Business Administrator, Ms. Martha Sybert
  • Ms. Sybert comes to us with over 5 years of school finance experience and over 20 years of progressively challenging accounting, budgeting, and finance experience. Her vast experience includes operational planning, budget development, capital planning, and financial analysis
  • It was a unanimous decision and Ms. Martha Sybert is the new School Business Administrator whose start date is to be determined

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Superintendent's Report 9.26.18

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
September 26, 2018

Elementary Enrollment Update - Grade 3/Stanley:
  • Mrs. Longin and I met to discuss the needs of the two third grade classrooms at Stanley. 
  • In order to best meet the needs of the students, the best position to support these classrooms would be an Academic Tutor.
  • An Academic Tutor would allow for small instructional groups in the breakout spaces during core subjects such as math and literacy.
  • As of today, we have 12 applicants with a range of educational experience from 2 to 24 years.
  • Mrs. Longin and her staff are conducting interviews.
  • We are still on track to have this targeted support in place in a couple of weeks.

School Business Administrator Search
  • We conducted interviews as scheduled last Thursday, September 20th.
  • We are currently in negotiations with a candidate to bring forward to the Committee.
MSBA Update
  • Following our enrollment submission, we have been invited in to meet with the MSBA on Monday, October 15th. This meeting is proposed for the MSBA to better understand local conditions and any concerns the District may have as part of the enrollment forecast.
  • Mr. Katz, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Raymond, and I will be attending this meeting.
  • In addition, the MSBA held two slots for our district to attend a one day class called the Story of a Building. It’s going to be held at the Woodland Elementary School in Milford. Mrs. Wright and I are registered to attend where we look forward to learning about topics such as Construction and Building Operations, Lessons Learned, Best Practices regarding IT software and hardware, and furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
MCAS 2018
  • Administrators have been pouring over the preliminary data since late summer.
  • Results are embargoed until 12:01 tonight and will be released to the public tomorrow.
  • They will be arriving in the district on Friday, the 28th and will be sent home on Tuesday, October 2nd, across the district.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Superintendent's Report 9.12.18

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
September 12, 2018

Elementary Enrollment Update:
  • We’ve continued to monitor the elementary class sizes during the last few weeks of this school year.
  • Despite the difficult budget decisions last spring whereby class sections in grades K-3 were decreased by one, I am pleased to report that most class sizes have leveled out between 18-23 students as predicted. 
  • There are a couple of outliers in 4 grade at Stanley, because they remained at 3 sections: two sections have 16 students and the third has 18. 
  • In addition, third grade at Clarke currently has 25 & 25 however, there are students listed in that homeroom that are attached to other specific programs in that school. However, we are working closely with Mrs. Hunt to determine the additional supports that may be needed here, as well. 
  • The third grade at Stanley School is our largest class with 25 and 26 students in each class.
  • I think it’s important to note that through the appeals process with regard to student relocation assignments, several families appealed their placement and for a number of reasons those appeals were granted. 
  • We are currently reviewing applications for general education ESPs to provide support in those third-grade classrooms. 
  • It is also important to remember that with this decision of decreasing class sections, there is now available breakout space for use at Stanley School. My vision and expectation are that these spaces would be utilized by students in third grade often with the adult support that we will be putting in place. 

School Business Administrator Search
  • The Interview Committee consists of Evan Katz, School Business Administrator, Joanne van der Burg, Budget and Finance Specialist, Martha Raymond, Director of Student Services, Julie DeLillo, Director of Human Resources, Carin Marshall, Chair of the Budget Subcommittee, and myself. 
  • Of the nine resumes we received, we had narrowed the candidates down to 4 and were to be conducting 2 phone interviews and 2 in-person interviews next Thursday. However, 2 candidates have retracted their candidacy.

MSBA Update
  • We submitted the next two deliverables to the MSBA in the Eligibility Period by the deadline of August 30th: The Educational Profile Questionnaire and Enrollment Projection. 
  • I followed up with the MSBA this week to ask where the approval of our School Building Committee stood. I was told it is still being reviewed by legal but our liaison will investigate where we are in the queue. 
  • Our next deliverable date is November 28th when the Enrollment Certification Executed and Maintenance and Capital Planning Information is due.

Boston Magazine - Best of Boston
  • I have Tweeted and celebrated with our staff the fact that Swampscott High School ranked #31 in Boston Magazine’s most recent issue naming Best Public High Schools in 2018. In 2016, Swampscott High School was ranked #39.
  • Criteria include: class size, student-teacher ratio, MCAS, SAT scores, AP scores, graduation rate, students attending college, and teacher evaluation ratings.
  • Significant progress but not surprising. 
  • Data Specialist and AP Teacher Training

The Opening of the School Year
  • It was a challenging start to the school year with the extreme heat. We faced challenges as did every other district that started before Labor Day.
  • The students and staff were troopers through this extreme heat.
  • I want to thank the families for their flexibility during this period when last-minute early release days were called. 
  • Fire Drills (4 per year) and ALICE Drills have been scheduled at all 5 schools.

Summer and Ongoing Maintenance Projects

Clarke School
Painting (3) offices
Patch wall & paint Art Room
Clean & paint Gym Vents
Coordination of plumbing repairs
Floor repairs in Portable Building
Fire Alarm Upgrade project - (ongoing)
Coordination and selection of Stage Lift
Demolition and Construction of walls, floor, and stage for lift - (ongoing)
Moved Library from Portable to Main Building
Repair shelving at Art Room
Patching of concrete stairs at Gym

Hadley School
Patch walls at Stair Landings
Classroom door repairs
Coordination of exterior door repairs
Patch walls in classrooms
Patch & paint Gym floor
Moving of classrooms
Repair fence at Playground

Stanley School
Paint (3) rooms
Paint Art Room floor
Paint (2) Bathrooms
Paint interior & exterior stairs
Moving of classrooms
Floor repairs in classrooms
Coordination of carpet installation in classroom

High School
Coordination of sprinkler repairs in Gym with Metro Swift and Fire Department
Paint room
Coordination of plumbing repairs
Floor repairs at 1st floor 8-Wing
Repair Science Room tables

Middle School
Coordination of plumbing repairs
Coordination of electrical repairs
Installation of Pre School Playground equipment
Cleaning of roof drains
Opened up the wall in HR File Room to access plumbing leak above Kitchen
Office - extensive brick removal necessary to access
Replace ceiling in Kitchen Office

Central Office moves at MS including construction, moving & painting
Green Communities Grant kickoff meeting
Installation of AED cabinets at Athletic Fields
Purchasing and delivering of supplies and materials for Summer Cleaning
Moving of classrooms between buildings in the district
Coordinating of Outside Cleaning contractors at Middle and High Schools
Removal of downed trees and branches after the storm
Coordination of annual Fire Alarm & Sprinkler testing
Coordination of Annual Elevator Testing - (ongoing - rescheduled by State Inspector)
Coordination of the Hiring of new Custodial Staff
Coordination and finalization of numerous preventive maintenance contracts - Fire Alarm and Sprinkler, Emergency Generator and Metasys Controls
Heating system coordination walk-thru to determine the scope or needed work - (ongoing)
Removal of e-waste to HS loading dock for pickup

Replaced the door at Fish House