Friday, February 15, 2019

Superintendent's Report to SC 2.13.19

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
February 13, 2019

PFLAG - Greater Boston Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays

  • Staff training - January 24th Professional Development Day
  • Community Forum - Wednesday, February 6th @ 6:30 pm at SHS in the Auditorium. Approximately 20 people in attendance including a few children. Three guest speakers were phenomenal.

Director of Teaching & Learning (formerly Director of Curriculum & Instruction)

  • Position posted January 3, 2019
  • Posting closed this January 24th
  • A total of 39 applicants
  • Interview Committee: Julie DiLillo (HR Director), Lytania Mackey (Director of Digital Learning), Martha Raymond (Director of Student Services)
  • Approximately, 10 candidates - phone screenings still happening
  • First Round of Interviews: February 28th & March 4th

National Blue Ribbon Award Celebration & Reception
  • Thursday, February 7th.
  •  Congratulations and a big thank you to the high school team of students and faculty that put this celebration together.
  • A proud moment for the district and the community

REACH Arts Open House/Tea
  • Took place Thursday, January 31st from 3 pm - 5 p
  • Great event to see the spaces available

Kindergarten Information Night
  • Took place on Tuesday, January 29th
  • Very well attended
  • A reminder that Kindergarten Registration is in-person, in the Superintendent’s Conference Room at the Middle School on Monday & Tuesday, March 18th & 19th from 7:30 am - 11:30 am
Stanley School - New Principal

  • I am naming the Hadley School interim principal Mrs. Kathleen Huntley as the next permanent Stanley School principal. 
  • This appointment will take effect on March 18. 
  • Last October when we were interviewing for Ms. Ilana Bebchick’s maternity leave we formed an interview committee with myself and the following members: Mrs. Jennifer Hunt – Clarke School Principal, Ms. Ilana Bebchick – Hadley School Principal, Mrs. Julie DeLillo – Director of Human Resources, Mrs. Martha Raymond – Director of Student Services, Mrs. Carin Marshall – School Committee Member
  • At the conclusion of the interview process, Mrs. Huntley was unanimously appointed the interim principal for Ms. Bebchick’s leave. 
  • In essence, Mrs. Huntley has been interviewing for the Stanley School principal position for the last 3-months, the longest interview I have ever conducted.
  • Prior to coming to Swampscott, Kathleen served as principal at the Abbot School, a grade 3-5 school in Westford, from 2015-18. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at the Abbot and Nabnasset schools, grades K-2 from 2013-18. Before becoming an administrator, she taught science in at all levels, including as an adjunct professor at Merrimack College.
  •  Ms. Bebchick is scheduled to return from maternity leave on March 4. Mrs. Huntley will work at both Hadley and Stanley during the week of March 4 and take over Stanley as of March 18. 
  • I am truly thrilled to have someone with Kathleen’s level of experience leading Stanley School. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Superintendent's Report to SC 1.16.19

Superintendent’s Report to the School Committee
January 16, 2019

Communications Survey
  • Was sent to parents, students, staff, and town meeting members in late October. The survey closed on November 2nd. 
  • 536 responses
  • 71.6% - parents/guardians, 17.9% - faculty, 9.7% town meeting members, 1 student
  • On a scale from 1 to 5, 53.2% of respondents rated current communication level 4 or 5 in terms of meeting their needs
  • 63.1% responded that my biweekly communication is sufficient
  • The highest ranked types of communications that respondents would like to hear about included School Improvement Plans (84.1%), District Strategy (73.7%), Budget (65.9%), and Personnel Updates (61%) 
  • The most glaring takeaway was that 47 Town Meeting members were interested in receiving communications from me directly, via email. Since late November, I have been sending Town Meeting members the link to this report along with communications related to budget, personnel and other important topics that might be of value to community members without school-aged children, for example, my email to families about how I go about calling a snow day. 

Senior Center Board Meeting
  • On December 11th I attended the Senior Center Board Meeting
  • I spoke about the District Strategy and our priorities
  • Discussion about changing demographics in the school district and the changing demands of education, which led to me touching on the school department budget
  • My final word was about the need for a new elementary school and where we are in this potential building project with the MSBA.
  • I am scheduled to meet with the Friends of the Senior Center to talk more about the school building project in March or April. Date TBD.

An Evening Discussion with the Superintendent
  • Kick Off Meeting
  • 8 people in attendance
  • Presentation on District Strategy, priorities, School Improvement Plans, and district vision
  • Shared my plan of attending one PTO/PTA/PTF Meeting this year. Asked those organization leaders to forward me the topic each school would like me to speak on.

Director of Teaching & Learning (formerly Director of Curriculum & Instruction)
  • Position posted January 3, 2019
  • Posting closes this Thursday, January 24th
  • 23 applicants to date
  • Reviewing/screening applications
  • Interview Committee formation
  • Interview schedule
  • I will be speaking to the High School Principal and Stanley School Principal openings at upcoming meetings

PFLAG - Greater Boston Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
  • Staff training - January 24th Professional Development Day
  • Community Forum - Wednesday, February 6th @ 6:30 pm at SHS in the Auditorium

National Blue Ribbon Award Celebration & Reception
  • Thursday, February 7th beginning at 9:00 am
  • Invited guests who have confirmed their attendance include the Governor & First Lady, Commissioner Riley, Mark Gelfand, Representative Ehrlich, Sean Fitzgerald, Peter Spellios, Chief Madigan, and Chief Breen
  • The Board of Selectmen have all been invited
  • The program is being developed by the high school team and will include student performances
  • We will also be raising the Blue Ribbon Flag and have a surprise commemoration which will be unveiled as part of the celebration

Student and Alumni News at SHS

North Shore Education Consortium Pilot

  • Through the generous support of the Tower Foundation ($100,000), our district has been one of only six member districts invited to participate in a pilot program from January - June 2019 with no cost to us
  • This NEC Connections has hired a clinician to work with our districts free for this pilot year
  • Through this pilot our district will have access to the following services:
    • Case consultation, including crisis consultation, from an experienced, neutral clinician
    • Referral of approximately 12 cases for intensive short-term case management with a guarantee of at least two open cases at any given time.
  • Case management will include
    • Assessment of the situation by meeting with the school team, observing, meeting with the family, reviewing the record. To include home or community visits. 
    • Short-term counseling with the student and family members
    • Helping family identify and access community-based supports to meet basic or mental health needs
    • Consultation with the student’s team
    • Monitoring the situation
  • Advantages
    • Only buying a portion of a clinician instead of committing to a full or part-time position and no benefits cost
    • Ability to work flexible hours
    • “Neutrality” in high conflict or highly sensitive situations - not a district employee
    • Specialized training and experience in community settings
  • In Year 2 our financial commitment would be approximately $20,000 but with the Tower Foundation’s subsidy, the cost to us for year 2 would be approximately $13,000

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