Cleaning up my desk at year’s end.
Having spent six months in my role as Interim Superintendent, I am more impressed with this school district and town than ever. When you “look under the hood” you see wonderful young people working with some amazing educators; it is not an accident that Weston graduates are well prepared to be successful in college and life. There certainly are areas for growth. When the outcomes of the district are as impressive as they have been, urgency for change is often modest. This requires a continuous improvement mindset and I can say we have started.
As I prepare for 2016, I want to clean my desk of some sticky notes reminding me of things I wanted to share with you.
Safety is on everyone’s mind and that certainly applies to our schools. In addition to our already strong safety plan and our existing collaboration with the Weston police, the staff at each school is in process of enhancing its response plan in the event of an unsafe situation. The middle and high school are implementing a response plan that is more robust than our current lock down protocol and that offers staff options in how to react to keep students and staff safe. Our elementary schools are about to commence on a similar track that is age appropriate for our younger students. Parents will be provided information by the school on these programs in the new year. Also, be assured we take every threat seriously and will be transparent about them if received.
We welcome Robert Tremblay as our newly appointed superintendent. He will begin his duties on July 1, 2016, but over the months ahead we will create transition opportunities for him here in Weston. We will also link him in as we make important decisions, e.g. hiring a new principal at Country School. Bob, of course, has responsibilities in his current position and must stay focused on those.
PARCC, MCAS, MCAS 2.0. The decision of the State Board of Education is in and the winner is……..a new generation MCAS that is really PARCC plus some aspects of MCAS. Clear? We are all trying to sort out exactly what this means. This is the last year districts can choose between PARCC and MCAS; everyone will administer the new assessment in 2017. That this new assessment is based on PARCC, we will again offer our students the PARCC test. Also we continue to administer it on-line given that all tests will be computer based by 2019. A more complete explanation of this change can be found on the DESE website.
Assistant Superintendent Pam Bator recently presented an outstanding overview of the district’s results of last spring’s PARCC and MCAS results which I highly recommend watching. Her report can be viewed by clicking on Assessment Results Presentation
I have had an occasional conversation this year with a parent about his/her perception of a school, a teacher, the district, or a program and I discover it may be the first time they have talked to us about their concerns. We have an expectation that every teacher and administrator will listen to parent input. I strongly urge anyone with a concern to talk directly to the teacher or the principal and not assume they must know about the matter. Not all differences can be resolved, but our staff will listen and try.
I want to plug the great work of the PTO and WEEFC. We couldn’t do what we do without the volunteers and contributions of these two organizations. Thank you.
We are embarking on budget season with a number of presentations and discussions of the FY17 budget, beginning with the School Committee meeting on January 11 at 7:00 PM. The budget is more than just numbers; it is a public representation of the needs, priorities, conditions, and issues facing our schools. It is a process because the decisions are often not straight-forward and the resources are not without limit. The School Committee, as good stewards of the town’s resources, spend a number of hours making sure our plan serves all students. Please stay tuned.
Happy New Year; thank you for your support of our students, staff and schools.
John R Brackett