Superintendent’s Report February

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00 PM, Monday, February 6, 2017

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

  1.  MSSA Legislative Committee – Position on Bills 128th Legislature-1st Session (enclosure)

Important takeaways:

  1. An Act to Strengthen Requirements for Water Testing for Schools – Brewer is currently testing the water through free testing sources provided by the state as a precautionary measure.
  2. An Act to Provide for Fairness in the Transfer of Students – This has to do with Superintendent’s agreements and superintendent’s continue to be concerned about the appeal process and the impacts this process has on our current student population.
  3. An Act to Improve Science and Engineering Education for Maine’s Students –This bill ensures that science and engineering standards are established.
  4. An Act to Amend the Laws Governing Teacher Certification – This is related to the updates provided to you two months ago. There are some concerns regarding additional costs and training district will need to provide teachers.
  5. An Act to Realign the State-Municipal Revenues Sharing Distribution – This bill proposes to realign the percentage of revenue from the sales and use taxes, 6 the service provider tax and the income taxes that is transferred monthly from the General Fund to the Local Government Fund under state-municipal revenue sharing.
  1.  Budget Overview with City

Gretchen and I met with Steve Bost and Karen Fussell to review our budget situation for the 17-18 school year.  We reviewed special education costs, teacher contract negotiations, salaries and insurance, state subsidy proposed reductions, and other expenditures impacting our budget.  This will be an unusually difficult year as many of our expenditures are items we cannot cut.  Increase enrollment is a good thing in some regards but we have seen an increase in 37% to our special education department which impacts our budget significantly.

  1. State Subsidy Concerns (MSSA Letter to Commissioner Hasson)

A letter was sent by the Executive Committee of the MSSA representing the Superintendents requesting we receive our ED 279 which will let us know our state subsidy.  With the governor’s proposed budget cuts and not having the ED 279, makes it incredibly difficult to prepare our budgets.  Some of the proposed cuts by the governor are:  no state subsidy for central office staff, no funding of MLTI, and increased coverage of our portion of Maine State Retirement.  We also do not know what the proposed EPS funding formula will be.  The state is also looking at a statewide teacher contract.

  1. 8th Grade Recruiting Visits/Step-Up Day/Parent Night

We have visited Hermon, Dedham, Orrington, Holbrook and All Saints.  There are 201 eighth-grade students in these schools and the visits went very well.  If we continue to receive similar percentages, we are looking at a large incoming 9th-grade class next year.  This also will impact our budget as current freshmen teachers teach one class off team and will most likely need to teach all freshmen classes next year.  We will know more as students register for classes.  The due date for enrolling into Brewer is March 31st .

  1. Proficiency-based Diploma Transition High School Update (Implementation Steps and Progress)
    1. Identify Content Area Measurement Topics and Learning Targets: We are finalizing this work through department meetings aligning to courses creating multiple pathways for students.  Teachers are also creating additional learning targets that are beyond “graduation requirements” for additional learning pathways and our more rigorous diploma options.
    2. Developing Scoring Criteria: All learning targets currently in Empower, our reporting system, has scoring criteria.  We will need to practice scoring student work to this criteria next year to ensure reliability and validity of our scoring system.
    3. Assess the Guiding Principles: Our educational system of planning learning, addresses the guiding principles on a regular basis.  Scoring criteria exists for the guiding principles.  We need to ensure that all guiding principles are being assessed multiple times throughout high school and are beginning this alignment.  The capstone project will be the culminating assessment.
    4. Align Learning Targets: We are currently meeting with all content areas aligning our learning targets to all of our courses.  This will then be put into a comprehensive program of studies and grading guide for students and families.
    5. Review and Revise District Policies: We have a plan and timeline to address the list of proficiency-based policies needed to be in place by September.
    6. Develop a Reporting System: We have a reporting system called Empower that allows students, teachers and parents to view proficiency on learning targets. It prints progress reports, report cards and transcripts.  It can be used as an online classroom as well.  Teachers are being trained on this system on March 3rd.
    7. Conduct Public Forums: We have held two public forums that have addressed proficiency-based education and two parent nights.  We will continue to address this with parents and our community.
    8. Redesign Organizational Structures and Strategies: This one has to do with scheduling, intervention systems and supports for a personalized learning environment.  The high school continues to work on these processes.  The teacher advisory group is currently working on scheduling options.
    9. Developing Assessments and Units: Teachers have many materials created that they are able to still use that are aligned to learning targets.  Once learning targets are completing aligned to courses, teachers will need to “tweak” current assignments and assessments to make sure they are aligned to the learning targets.  Creation of new learning opportunities may also be needed to help students benefit from diverse way of demonstrating achievement.
    10. Revise the Student Transcript: By being part of the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning, we have done this.  Our Empower system helps with this.  You will see an example of this when the transcript policy comes forward.
  1. Proficiency-based Diploma Policy List and Timeline (See Timeline)
  • Graduation Requirements (Policy File IKF) FEBRUARY
  • Multiple Pathways (Policy File IKFF) FEBRUARY
  • Academic Recognition: Latin Honors and Grade Point Averages (Policy File IKD) MARCH
  • Transcripts (Policy File IKC) MARCH
  • Grading and Reporting System (Policy File IKA) MARCH
  • Dual Enrollment and Early College (Policy File IHCDA) APRIL
  • Assessment of Student Learning (Policy File ILA) APRIL
  • Promotion, Retention, and Acceleration (Policy File IKE) APRIL
  • Demonstrations of Learning, Exhibitions, and Capstone Projects (Policy File ILA) MAY
  • Academic Interventions (Policy File JCDL) MAY
  • Personal Learning Plans (Policy File ILAPL) MAY
  • Portfolios (Policy Files ILA and ILAPL) JUNE
  • Attendance (Policy File JEA) JUNE
  • Academic Eligibility: Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities (Policy File JJIC) JUNE
  1. PBE Lesson 101:  Why we need to change to PBE? (Presentation)
  1. Strategic Planning Update

Met and reviewed the feedback data from the surveys. 96% positive from the community and teachers.  We are making final changes and placing into charts with timelines for our goals.  Meeting one more time in February and bringing forward in March.

  1. Principal Search Survey Results and Posting Update (Results shared)

We had over 400 people complete the survey. Posting for the Principal will be posted by the end of the week based on the survey results and our high school principal job description. I have already received one application from an out-of-state applicant based on viewing the survey.

 

Superintendent’s Report January

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00 PM, Monday, January 9, 2017

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

A. December Recognitions

  1. JMG has a new partnership in coordination with DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) and OCFS (Office of Child and Family Services)  to work with a specific group of students in foster care with intent. As we know, this is a population who often falls through the cracks, despite everyone’s best intention and all the resources available to them. Between Sarah White and our JMG LEAP coordinator, Michelle Bourne, we are looking to close some of those cracks to make sure these students are getting all they are eligible for to best help them pursue meaningful careers and livelihoods. Four students were identified for the LEAP program. On Friday, December 16th, the students attended a training called Opportunity Passport, a financial literacy training.  In return for doing the training, the students earned $100 and a savings account that JMG matches dollar for dollar, up to $1000 a year.  These students will continue to be mentored during the high school personalized learning time and have additional scholarship opportunities as well.  Congratulations to Sarah White for bringing this program to our students.
  2. Skype with Antarctica:  https://youtu.be/i-YtUYud7fA   The third grade recently skyped with researcher Jean Pennycook who studies the nesting habits of the adelie penguin.
  3. Congratulations to the Brewer Music Department (Brady Harris, Heather MacLeod and Lanissa Nadeau) for another successful winter concert season in December.  All concerts were well attended and the music was superb.

B. Strategic Planning Update

The community forum was held on December 8th.  We had about twenty people in attendance and collected data on the five focus areas.  This data along with faculty feedback data will determine the final draft.  Our next strategic planning meeting is on January 19th at 5PM.

C. Student Voice Group Update

The student group if finalizing their ideas on cell phone regulations within the high school to present to the faculty.  It is taking them a little longer to organize their thoughts but they are working hard to get this done.

D. Acting Commissioner Hasson Announces $3 Million Available for Grants to School Administrative Units for Regionalization and Efficiency Efforts (Article):  Why is this important?

I wanted to inform you about the recent announcement regarding regionalization and efficiency efforts from the Department of Education.  There is 3 Million dollars available in grant money for these efforts.  Penquis superintendents have a model already existing for how we run professional development through PREP for our region.  Due to this, we have been speaking about other initiatives that might bring money to our region.  Alternative education regionalization at the middle school level and transportation are some of the ideas being explored.  Article is provided for you.  

E. Freshmen Teaming Professional Development Day

On Friday, January 6, Renita Ward-Downer and I, lead a professional development day with the freshmen team teachers at the high school.  This retreat day focused on best practices in teaming models, creating foundation for improving teaming model at the high school, looking at grading practices in a proficiency-based model, reflected on our own grading practices, created common grading practices, reviewed our new data management system and discussed how we will manage two systems until we are able to make a full transition.  It was a very beneficial day.  We plan to offer similar days with other groups of teachers within the high school.

F. Getting Ready for Our Incoming Freshmen Class – First PBE Diploma Class

Starting Tuesday, January 11th, the high school begins their sending school district visits as part of our recruiting efforts for the 2017-18 school year.  The materials that are typically shared had to be revamped due to changes in the first PBE diploma class. We are visiting the following schools in January:  Dedham, Holbrook, Glenburn, Center Drive and All Saints.  Airline has no 8th graders this year.  There are 201 potential 8th graders from sending school districts that we will meet.  High school ambassadors will come with Perry Bennett, Samantha Pangburn and myself to visit these students.  We will review our academic programming, athletics, AFJROTC, PCHC, STEM*, clubs/activities, music, theatre, robotics, etc. (*New initiative in the budget proposal).  All students will be invited to participate in Step Up Day on January 26th.

G. Presentation to Penquis Superintendents at UTC in December on Brewer’s PBE Model, Curriculum and Transcript Process

I recently presented to the Penquis Superintendents, UMaine and DOE representatives regarding Brewer’s PBE Model, Curriculum and Transcript Process.  It was well received and many questions were asked.  This presentation and overview will be presented to the school committee in small pieces each month through PBE Lesson 101.  

H. PBE Lesson 101:  Learning targets guide what it is we want students to know and be able to do.  Teachers are currently working to align all courses and classroom lessons to learning targets.  (Handout from Empower:  New Student Information System)

Teachers are using Empower to identify standards to create learning activities/lessons that are aligned to these learning targets. Teachers are beginning to ask themselves how do I help students demonstrate their learning of a learning target?  As we move to proficiency-based education, it is important that teachers focus on the learning that is obtained on each learning target and create pathways for how students can demonstrate learning in multiple ways.  We will continue to provide professional development. The handout I have provided this month, shows you the system we are using.  It has the learning targets across the top, students and where students are at with each learning target.  Teachers will be practicing with this system during the 3rd and 4th quarter.
I. Update on Trademark of Brewer Witches and Mascot Process

I researched briefly the process of trademarking the “Brewer Witch” and the actual logo.  It is a pretty simple process that requires a search, which I already completed and there is not another Brewer Witch copyright that has been submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office.  I also researched through the National Federation of State High School Associations to find out what other schools have trademarked logos/mascots/etc.  There have been quite a few high schools that have received cease and desist from colleges that have same logos or mascots as there are increased revenues for colleges/universities from logoed apparel and merchandise.  

  • High schools might be best served by trademarking their nicknames, logos and mascots, and copyrighting all design-related artwork for logos and mascots. Trademarks are obtained through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) and copyrights are available through the U.S. Copyright Office administered by the Library of Congress (www.copyright.gov). Easily navigable, streamlined application processes have been created for both and they are available at low cost (see websites for details). ($300/trademark)
  • High schools might be best served by using the NFHS Licensing Program through the Licensing Resource Group (LRG) to protect their marks and benefit from LRG’s marketing efforts to earn royalties on their marks. Complete information and an easy-to-complete online licensing agreement are available at the LRG website (www.nfhslicensing.com).
    • For more than 20 years Licensing Resource Group (LRG) has helped colleges and universities protect their trademarks, promote their brands, and generate profit through the sale of licensed merchandise. Now LRG Prep makes this possible for high schools as well. By joining the NFHS Licensing Program your high school is partnering with the industry’s premier trademark protection and brand-building agency.
    • LRG Prep offers high school administrators assistance with financial auditing of licensees, legal consultation, retail merchandising, e-commerce, and brand development – all at no cost to high schools. Please contact LRG Prep to learn more about controlling the use of your school name, logos, and mascot through the NFHS Licensing Program.

J. Update on Brewer High School Principal Hiring Process 

Position will be posted in February with interviews to begin in March.  Candidate’s name will be brought forward in April/May depending on timeline completion.

 

Superintendent’s Report December

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE Regular Meeting

Regular Meeting
6:00 PM, Monday, December 5, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

a. Cherrie MacInnes is the guest of Educate Maine’s, 2016 Annual Education Symposium and will be recognized on Friday, December 9, 2016, in Portland. Superintendent Towle will be attending with her.

b. Fall Athletic season was extremely successful. All of our teams made it into playoffs. All of our coaches and athletes are to be commended for a great season of representing Brewer in our community and in other Maine communities. Congratulations to David Utterback for another successful season.

c. The 35th Annual Turkey Trot was successful yet again even though the weather didn’t quite cooperate. Thank you to Sarah White and the many volunteers that helped make the event a success.

d. Our Veteran’s Day Assembly was one of the most moving, inspirational assemblies Brewer High School has had to date. The theme of past, present and future brought stories from our faculty and prior student veterans. Each veteran received a walking stick with a Brewer coin sealed at the top. Thank you to Tony Campbell, Bre Pelletier and Brady Harris for organizing the event.

e. Our Mock Trial team is having a very successful season. The Brewer High School Mock Trial team won both rounds against Hampden on November 12 and both rounds against Sumner on November 19. The team is now moving on to semi-finals against Kennebunk on December 3 in Portland. They have all worked very hard and their efforts have paid off.

f. Open Mic Night was a wonderful night of laughter and great music. We have very talented students.

g. Jeff Coffin and the Jazz Bands: I had the pleasure of attending this event with Samantha Pangburn, her first Brewer music event. I remember hearing my first music event and I just watched her face as the first notes flowed through PAC. It was priceless! What an experience for our students and teachers to work with Jeff Coffin that week. Who knew you could play two saxophones at the same time! Congratulations to all those involved.

h. Midsummer Night’s Dream Production: Congratulations to another successful drama production. This one included actors of all ages.

i. On Nov. 17, Bangor Federal matched the “Nickels with Noah” fundraiser for the third year in a row. The total funds raised for EMHS Foundation Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals this year equaled $14,223.40. Nickels with Noah was successful for another season of collection.

2. Strategic Planning Update

a. Community Forum will be held on December 8, 2016 at BHS Cafeteria at 6:30 PM.

b. Feedback will also be collected online through a survey on our district web page and through faculty feedback in December.

c. The committee will use this feedback to improve upon the plan and bring a completed presentation to the committee in February.

3. Student Voice Group Update

The student voice group at the high school has been working to reshape the cell phone regulation. After review of the policy, they found the policy very open to what they were trying to do but found the regulation inhibited usage of cell phones during any part of their day. They have collected data from surrounding school districts, have prepared a presentation for the faculty on December 8th and will come to the school committee to share their work in January. They have done a great job learning about policy making and advocating for their needs.

4. Chapter 115 Certification, Authorization, and Approval of Education Personnel (Handout)

As of October 11, 2016 there is a new draft for Chapter 115 that will be taken up in this coming legislature. The superintendents have been working with MSSA, to collect survey data in regards to the proposed draft. This data will be used to present testimony on what these changes could mean to our districts. A handout specifically outlining the concerns is provided in your packets. These changes could have direct impact on our budget process for 2019 and certification of personnel, as well as, hiring decisions. However, it could impact next year’s budget if more people need to take courses to meet the new requirements.

5. BEA Monthly Meeting

I just wanted to report out to the committee that monthly meetings have been occurring with the BEA. These meetings have been going very well where we discuss what is going well, what issues might be under the surface and make plans together. The most recent meeting we had was a meet and consult over the BCS 3rd/4th grade Literacy Block. This meeting went very well with a clear understanding of the purpose, how it was providing our students with reading and writing instruction plus any addition designed instruction needed as required in their IEP’s. Students are now receiving the same classroom experiences as their peers, and more resources to improve their reading and writing skills. I just wanted to let the BEA know how thankful I am to them for our continued working relationship that focuses on our district vision, mission and core values.

6. Building Assets Reducing Risks Teaming Model (BARR)

Recently I have met with both 9th-grade teams at Brewer High School to discuss their teaming model. We discussed what is working well, what needs to improve and how they address students’ needs. They asked about a vision for the freshmen teams within our new vision and mission. I briefly discussed the BARR model. This strategy is innovative and proven to transform schools. This educational model integrates the Developmental Assets framework, Risk and Protective factors focused on prevention strategies and the Attribution Theory of Student Motivation. It is unique in its approach to addressing the needs of students using two fundamental and interrelated pillars:

a. Creating positive, intentional relationships staff to staff, staff to students, students to students

b. Using real-time student level performance data to guide collaborative problem solving and instructional action

Currently, our teachers have many of the structures in place but have not had the training. Teachers will be reviewing this model and seeing how it fits into our mission and vision.

7. Redefining Ready: Additional Pathways to Diploma (Article Provided)

AASA has started a national campaign called “Redefining Ready”. This national campaign was unanimously supported at the Maine Superintendent’s Conference in November. I provide this information to you as it provides the district with other pathways or indicators for students to demonstrate college readiness and/or career readiness. This may be another reporting mechanism for demonstrating readiness along with our proficiency reporting mechanism through Empower.

Superintendent’s Report November

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

District Recognitions for October

  • Fall Athletics – All fall athletics made it into the playoff season this year. Congratulations to the students and their coaches! Well done!
  • NHS Blood Drive – National Honor Society had another successful blood drive having collected 29 units from students, teachers and staff.
  • Hall of Fame Banquet was a wonderful event attended many alumni, community members, faculty and students. I learned a great deal about our schools and the history and traditions in athletics. All inductees were honored with a plaque and stories were shared about their glory days and the bright futures they continued to have after Brewer High School.  Congratulations to David Utterback and the Committee for such a wonderful evening and event.
  • ASET Autism Safety Training occurred in October at the Performing Arts Center. This was a combined training for faculty, law enforcement and EMT’s in the community. It was very well attended and it was a big step in education of autism for our region. Thank you to Angela Moore and Chief Moffitt for collaborating on this presentation.
  • For Halloween teachers at the high school dressed up as Emoji’s. Thank you to Joanne Adair for leading this fun activity. The high school also recently participated in some team building activities that Samantha Pangburn will speak about later in her presentation.
  • Jazz All-State: Congratulations to Matt Mousseau as he was selected as a freshmen to play bass trombone in the All-State Jazz Band.
  1. Upcoming NEASC Report

            Meetings with Dr. Tony Gasper have been occurring to discuss the release of the High School NEASC (Accreditation Report) in the next few weeks.  This report will outline the commendations according to the standards that are assessed and give Brewer High School a list of recommendations that need to be completed in a 2-year and 5-year report.  We are having a conference call later this week to discuss whether we need a special report for this year based on the recommendations.

  1. Strategic Planning Committee Update

The committee met and had a productive meeting discussing objectives for the five areas in the strategic plan.  Our next meeting will be to place timelines to our objectives, as well as, who is responsible for each objective in the plan.  We are also planning our second community forum and staff feedback loop regarding the plan objectives.  Our goal is to bring the plan to the board in February for a first reading. 

  1. SRO/Admin Meeting on Truancy

We met as a team in October to discuss the truancy law and review our truancy policy and regulation.  As a team we reviewed a ten step process for our district in following state statute and updated the regulation.  Our next step is to meet one more time to finalize this process.  It is now required by the state of Maine to submit truancy reports quarterly.  Last year truancy reports were due once a year at the end of the year.

  1. BHS Student Council Meeting 

Met with the high school student council to discuss student voice and how they can play an active role in their school.  They mentioned several concerns that they would like to discuss and work on with the student body and the faculty.  The plan is to “vote” on their top priority, work with the teachers on a solution and then present to the school committee at a later date. We will be meeting during RTI time a couple of times a month to work on their ideas. Their areas of concerns are:

  1. During cold weather they would like to access the building through other doors first thing in the morning if possible? They understood safety concerns.
  2. They would like to have some bulletin boards that are designated by classes or organizations so that they can display or hang posters and information.
  3. They discussed access to the hallways prior to 7:45 in the morning.
  4. AM UTC misses part of RTI and asked if the bus that lines up at UTC can be moved to the front. This would get them back a few minutes earlier for more RTI time. Students claimed they love RTI time and are finding this very useful.
  5. They wanted to know if they could use laptops from home on school’s network? Possibly pass a bring your own device policy.
  6. They wanted to look at the cell phone policy and see about using their cell phones before school and at lunch time.
  7. PM UTC students would like to have a longer lunch time. Some feel rushed eating their lunch to catch the bus.
  1. BCS/DOE Building Visit and Next Steps

We want to recognize Mark Chambers at a future event for his 12 years on the school committee and his 5 years on the trustees.  As for the building issues at BCS, we will be reaching out to Valerie Chiang and Scott Brown at the DOE, to set up a meeting to discuss bid documents and an action plan.  Contacts to our attorneys regarding funding for these bids have also been made.  We are concerned about not having enough money left in the construction fund to cover the cost of repairs.

  1. Update on Bullying Statute and Quarterly Reporting

The State of Maine has recently changed the bullying statute and requires quarterly reporting.  This means changes to our bullying policy which you will see next month. 

  1. MSMA Superintendent’s Conference

This conference was on October 27th and 28th.  Kevin Forest attended with me on the 27th.  During this conference, I attended workshops on the following:

  • Building Stronger Communities through School Board Relationships
  • Running a Tight Ship: School Board Meetings and the Law
  • Protecting Students from Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse
  • Who is in Charge: Dealing with Employment Issues as a Board of Directors
  • A Collaborative Effort at Supporting PBE Teachers and Schools
  • Understanding the Rights of Transgendered Students in the Public Schools
  • Fix What Needs Fixing: Legal Pathways for Structural Change
  • Picking up STEAM: Using Integration to Engage and Get Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superintendent’s Report October

 

  • BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE
  • Regular Meeting
  • 6:00PM, Monday, October 3, 2016

Superintendent’s Report

District Recognitions/Events

  • Ms. Teresa Holyoke, BCS Librarian/Media Specialist, Allison Kahkonen, Instructional Supervisor, staff and students of BCS Brewer Community School has won the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge for the state of Maine.
  • BHS seniors, Drew Baker, Isaac Small and sophomore, Trey Baker took quick action on the evening of August 22, 2016, while traveling on Eastern Ave.  They saw smoke coming from the roof of a home.  They alerted the occupants and called 911.  Their quick action resulted in the safe evacuation of nine people and fire departments were able to save a majority of the structure.  We would like to thank them and commend them for their actions.
  • Cherrie MacInnes had her day with the state review panel for Teacher of the Year! We are now waiting for the announcement.
  • The Maine Moment for Sept. 19-15 goes to Trey Wood and the rest of Brewer football. The Witches took the field against Skowhegan on Friday in a matchup of two undefeated teams in Class B. After the two teams combined for 95 points, Brewer came out victorious, 54-41, behind a five-touchdown performance from Trey Wood.
  • A group of GT students at BHS coached by Fred Ravan will be a part of the High School Quiz Show on Maine Public Broadcast Network. This televised academic quiz show tournament could win the school up to a $1000. The eight teams that score the highest on the written test will be selected to compete for the televised contest which will begin recording in March.
  • GT students are looking for community sites to create a community mural. They are currently creating a list of possible locations and have reached out to city hall as well as the school department for these locations. The idea is to bring students, art and Brewer together in various locations.
  1.  The Principal:  Three Keys to Maximizing Impact “Book Study”

            The administrative team is taking part in professional development this year by completing a book study.  They are reading The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact  by Michael Fullan.  This book emphasizes how principals are often called the second crucial in-school influencers (after teachers) of student learning.  It will provide specific ways to build capacity, focus on pedagogy, abandon fragmented strategies and strive for systemic change with a collaborative effort.  Fullan shares how principals can foster the professional capital of teachers and get far more accomplished for all students.  We will learn about being the learning leader, the district and system player and the change agent through the use of specific action items.

  1.  Learning Standards Theme

The first theme of the year is understanding what a learning standard or target is.  Learning standards are concise, clearly articulated descriptions of what students should know and be able to do at a specific stage of their educational journey. An example of a 5th grade standard might be: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.  An example of a high school standard might be:  Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.  Each of these standards don’t dictate the curriculum.  Standards are not a prepackaged curriculum or a course of study, although this is a common misperception.  Standards are a fundamental set of academic, intellectual and skill expectations for students but it’s school boards, administrators and teachers who decide how they get taught.  Standards like the ones above do not tell the teacher what text to assign, how to teach students or even how to determine if they have achieved the expected standard.  Learning goals are consistent and common, but the teaching remains a local decision.

Standards draw a line in the sand.  Standards stipulate that students must learn a particular selection of critical skills and concepts before they can be considered prepared for the next step in education.  Teachers can teach more, but not less.  The standards establish a common baseline for what it means to be educated in the state of Maine or even across our country.

Having these standards, allow for greater collaboration and innovation.  Teachers are able to share lessons they develop, the instructional strategies they use, and the learning materials they create.  There are now several national online exchanges that have teachers sharing materials aligned to standards.  Common standards also make it easier and less expensive to develop textbooks, learning software and other educational resources.

Brewer School Department is working with the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning which has established learning standards and progressions for all eight content areas, including complex reasoning skills and habits of mind.  We plan to share more of what this looks like as the year continues.

  1.  Busing Plans

We are working with Cyr Bus to establish a start time for all of our buses to begin our regular bus routines as the construction winds up on Eastern Avenue.  Those bus runs will begin on October 3rd.  I want to thank Jason Richards for the countless hours he has spent working with Cyr Bus to ensure the safety of our students and to rework bus routes to accommodate the needs of our district.  We are also working to reestablish the Transfinder software system which has not been updated in five years.  This will be helpful in creating bus routes next year.

  1.  Upcoming November Policies

The admin team is meeting with our SRO’s on October 5, 2016, to address these two policies.

  • Revised Bullying/Cyberbullying Statutes (Posted September 1, 2016 by DOE)

The model bullying and cyberbullying prevention policy, first adopted in 2013 as a result of An Act to Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools (PL 659), has been revised to include comprehensive, detailed, and user-friendly procedural forms as well as an administrative procedure. All school administrative units’ school boards are to ensure that their policies and procedures are consistent with the revised model policy and procedures.

In addition, each SAU must file its policies to address bullying and cyberbullying to the Department (20-A MRSA §6554, sub-§8). Districts are further notified that beginning in the 2016-17 school year, substantiated incidents of bullying are no longer reported in Infinite Campus State Edition. Instead, these incidents are to be reported in NEO’s Bullying Reporting System on a quarterly basis. Superintendents will need to request staff access to this form by using the NEO access request form. Additional resources for monitoring and compliance with the law will become available this fall. More information regarding bullying prevention can be found at www.maine.gov/doe/bullying or contact the Department’s Student Assistance Coordinator, Sarah H. Ricker at 624-6685 or sarah.ricker@maine.gov with any questions.

  • Truancy Regulation for the District

Truancy Reporting is done through the Infinite Campus Truancy module. It is important that not only truancy incidents are created once a student meets the definition of truancy but also that the truancy incident is “Resolved” or “Closed” once the student returns to school or transfers to a different district.  The definition of truancy can be found in §5051-A (http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/20-A/title20-Asec5051-A.html).
A truancy incident must be recorded once a student meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • 10 Full Days and completed grade 6
  • 7 Consecutive Days and completed grade 6
  • 7 Full Days and at least 7 yrs of age and has NOT completed grade 6
  • 5 Consecutive Days and at least 7 yrs of age and has NOT completed grade 6

Once an incident has been identified, it must be recorded in the truancy module. Steps must also be followed in order as outlined in §5051-A until the incident is either “closed” or “resolved”.

A truancy protocol has been established and we will be discussing the steps of this process before bringing this regulation to the board.  Our goal is to improve attendance for Brewer School Department.  Last year BCS was at 95.5% and BHS was at 93.3%.

  1.  Question 2 Upcoming Vote – MSMA White Paper

Included in the school committee packet is a paper on the pros and cons of question 2.  There are some significant points in this article.  While wanting to see education funded at 55%, there are some issues with the EPS formula, the impact this may or may not have on property taxes, driving businesses and newly graduated students out of our state are all mentioned as concerns. The article gives a nice overview of what has happened to funding of education over the last ten years and why both sides have merit to their argument.

  1. Strategic Planning Committee Update

The committee met on September 22, 2016, with an agenda that did not quite get completed.  However, there was a great discussion about our schools and our needs in two areas:  curriculum and instruction and professional culture.  The committee will meet again on October 20 to finish the agenda from September 22 and plan the next community forum.  The meeting schedule for 2016-17 is included in your packets.  Some dates may need to be adjusted based on the progress of the committee.

  1. Upcoming Events

-MSSA Fall Conference @ Augusta Civic Center October 26 and 27, 2016

-MSBA Delegate Assembly @ Augusta Civic Center October 27, 2016 1:15-4PM

-Full Plates Full Potential Annual Summit to End Childhood Hunger @ Colby College October 4, 2016

-State Funding Committee Meeting @ MSMA October 6, 2016

-Teacher Workshop Day October 7, 2016

-Hall of Fame Banquet October 13, 2016 5:30-8 @ BHS

-Autism Safety Training October 13, 2016 6-8:30 @ PAC

-Trustees Meeting October 18, 2016 6PM @ BHS Main Office

-Mrs. Lepage Visit to BCS to Read to 3rd Graders October 19, 2016 @ 9:30 AM

-Strategic Planning Committee October 20, 2016 6PM @ BCS Conference Room D