April Superintendent’s Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, April 11, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

  1.    March Recognitions  Besides the many student recognitions at the beginning of our meeting, I wanted to recognize the following groups and their accomplishments in March:
    1. 3rd Graders Lobbying for the Crustacean Bill to become a Law
    2. Orange Chaos had an amazing district competition at Worcester Polytechnic Institute March 12th.  The team competed against 40 other teams from around the New England area, finishing 2 days of qualifying matches in 1st place! During the finals round, Orange Chaos was team captain of the 1st place alliance and was eliminated in the semi-finals.   The team was awardedExcellence in Engineering by the judging panel. This award celebrates elegant and advantageous machine features. Our robot scored the most high goals of the entire competition, had available a variety of autonomous programs for the robot to cross opponents’ defenses in the first 20 sec of play and was the first of only two robots to scale the castle wall. The judges recognized that our robot could tackle all aspects of the 2016 FRC Stronghold Challenge and looked amazing.  There next competition is Pine Tree on April 8th and 9th in Lewiston.
    3. Storybird Project: Michelle Macdonald and her creative writing students were awarded a $4000 grant by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation to help them carry out their 1st grade personal story writing project for the next four years. (Letter enclosed).
    4. On Saturday, March 19, the Brewer Community School Jazz Band dazzled the adjudicators and audience at the MMEA State Middle School Jazz Festival at Nokomis HS, receiving a gold award and first place in the State for Division 2!  In addition, for her outstanding work on trumpet and flugelhorn, seventh grader Hanna S. was awarded one of 5 individual outstanding musicianship trophies.  Soloists Matt M. on trombone, Zoe V. on tenor sax and bass, Hanna S. on trumpet and flugelhorn and Adrienne F. on trumpet received outstanding musicianship certificates for their solos.  Judges comments included “most high school bands don’t play this well” and “fantastic job by all”.  The large audience in the Nokomis gym gave the band a standing ovation after their performance and word spread quickly throughout the festival about how well Brewer had performed.
    5. All that Jazz: For those that were in attendance at the All That Jazz Event at Peakes Auditorium on March 29th, you were truly treated to a great show by several area schools, but our jazz ensemble was the headliner. From the time we took the stage to begin setting up through the last note, the audience was engaged, entertained, and educated by our students and our performance. Peter Hilyard and Christopher Harris were the crowd favorites from an intense opening drum solo to some great trumpet playing. Several other soloists including Siera Desjardins, Nate Williams, Ben Byorak, Jon Donnelly, Paul Fortier, and Cam Billings also added to the level of excitement. When all was said and done, Brewer received the only standing ovation and the judges’ choice award. Outstanding work by our student-musicians!
    6. Key Club: I just wanted to share that the Brewer Key Club is pleased to be one of the clubs featured in quarters YanKey, the New England Key Club District Magazine.  This goes out to every Key Club in New England and Bermuda. This include over 175 clubs and 6,500 fellow Key   Irene Neal, our editor, submitted the article to the district.  She did a wonderful job.Here is the link to the publication: http://nedkeyclub.homestead.com/YanKey/YanKey-January-2016.pdf  Please take a look.  Her article is on Page 7.
    7. JMG students competed in the JMG Career Development Conference which was featured on the local news. We had a number of award winners at the competition.  They are:

3rd place – Group Challenge (had to create a mechanism to get across a finish line using a small motor, one battery, toothbrushes, tape, and a tongue depressor): Macey Sherburne, Marcus Nash, Nate Malo

2nd place – Job Application packets (resumes, job application, cover letter, and short answer questions): Jolene Hughes, Taylor Gamblin

1st place – Rat Race (get all members of a team through a puzzle without talking): Macey Sherburne, Nate Malo, Jolene Hughes, Marcus Nash, Mike McRae

1st place – Public Speaking (what JMG means to me): Sadie Ellis (received standing ovation)

1st place – College Admissions Interview (interview with college admissions representative): Macey Sherburne (not only did she win for our division, she won for the ENTIRE competition, beating out the next closest competitor by a landslide, yes, a landslide).

1st place – Marketplace (create a display representing the goals of JMG and present to a panel of judges, answering questions): Sadie Ellis, Taylor Gamblin

  1. League of Innovative Schools Conference  On March 17th and 18th, I traveled with Mr. Wall and a team of high school teachers to Massachusetts to attend a conference called “High School Redesign in Action.”  This conference represented the best schools in New England that have been innovative in meeting students’ needs in a personalized proficiency based system.  It was exciting as a leader to be reaffirmed in my beliefs, to have discussions with Mr. Wall and the high school team about proficiency based education, and to learn from others’ experiences.  To see the steps that the administrative team is discussing including professional development, curriculum and instruction development, and our strategic planning focus areas align to what these other school districts are doing was very powerful.  The administrative team will be participating in a summer retreat to set goals for the district aligned to our strategic plan, best practices, and making sure that everyone in the district is moving in the same direction with a clear understanding of our vision and mission as a school department.
  1.  International Students to Brewer High School 2016-2017 Update  I have continued to research bringing International students to Brewer High School through the help of Suzanne Fox, an International Consultant who has been helping schools set up International Programs for over 30 years.  She is currently working with the following public high schools:  Falmouth, Grant-Deuel, Kennebunk, Leland, Gray, Orono and Stearns.  She also works with the following private schools:  MCI, John Bapst, Erskine, Catherine McAuley, Lee Academy and many more in New England.  She works with schools to travel abroad where she already has connections to arrange for students to study in your school. Due to travel abroad times to recruit from various countries at school fairs, we have had difficulties meeting. At this time, I recommend taking the 16-17 school year to thoroughly research this process including community interest, training needs, processes, etc.
  1.  Strategic Planning Committee Update

            Committee met on March 24th.  During this meeting we reviewed the legislative updates regarding proficiency based diplomas.  The class of 2021 will be required by statute to be proficient in 4 content areas, class of 2023 must demonstrate 6 content areas and the class of 2025 must demonstrate all 8 content areas.  The state has given more time to implement all 8 content areas.

The committee also reviewed the data from the faculty feedback loops and the community forum.  We categorized the data by themes and organized these themes into the following categories to be addressed in our strategic plan: Curriculum/Instruction; Professional Culture; Commitment to Community; Resource Management; Physical/Technological Infrastructure and Student Services and Counseling.   At our next meeting we will review mission statement and develop core vision statements for each key area on the plan.  Each of these areas will eventually have goals with action steps.

  1. Governor LePage Visit

Brewer School Department would like to thank Governor LePage for recognizing our students and faculty by taking time out of his schedule to visit our school and sign the “Lobster Bill” in the presence of our students.  It meant a great deal to the students and they were excited to see the official document.  This authentic learning opportunity will be one the students will remember for a long time.

  1. Correspondence: Letter to Ms. MacInnes from Maine Lobster Festival

We received correspondence from the Maine Lobster Festival Board of Directors. This letter recognized the energy that the students of Brewer Community School have dedicated towards recognizing the Maine Lobster, the importance the lobster plays within the State of Maine as a natural resource, and the benefits that are enjoyed by promoting this unique resource.

  1. Ms. MacInnes Semi-Finalist for County Teacher of the Year

Finally, I would like to congratulate Ms. MacInnes as being selected as a semi-finalist for County Teacher of the Year.  We wish her luck as she moves on in the selection process.

 

March Superintendent Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, March 7, 2016

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

A. February Recognitions

  1.  Letter to Mrs. MacInnes’ class from First Lady Barbara Bush 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank First Lady Barbara Bush for recognizing Mrs. MacInnes’s third grade class for their National Writing Award.  These students also were selected to ask a question during her Reading Discovery Distance Learning Program.

  1.  Letter to Mrs. MacInnes’ class from Senator Susan Collins 

Senator Susan Collins recognized the hard work of Mrs. MacInnes and her third grade class. The students were quite excited to receive this correspondence.

  1.  Letter to Mrs. MacInnes from City of Brewer 

On Monday, March 1, 2016, the City Council invited Mrs. MacInnes to their meeting to accept recognition.  City Councilor Joe Ferris asked that a resolve congratulating and recognizing Mrs. MacInnes and her class for winning the writing contest be on this City Council Agenda.  I want to personally thank the City Council for recognizing the wonderful actions taken by this teacher and the hard work her students continue to put forth.  Recently their story, Classroom Pets, was illustrated and read by Mrs. P.  Mrs. P. is actress Kathleen Kinney most remembered for her role as Mimi on The Drew Carey Show. Here is the link to the story:
https://youtu.be/2WVHsd4WJJM 

  1.  Letter from Senator Susan Collins to Superintendent Towle regarding Mrs. MacInnes’ third grade class

I also received correspondence from Senator Collins recognizing Mrs. MacInnes’s third grade class and encouraging all of the third grade to work with the state legislature to see the lobster become the Maine State Crustacean.  The news on this is that a bill has been written and the students will be lobbying down in Augusta this spring.  

  1.  Recognition of our Student Based Health Centers and Collaboration with Penobscot Community Health Center 10 Year Anniversary from the City of Brewer 

On Monday, March 1, 2016, the City Council invited Mr. Dusty Hillman, Ms. Kathy Sherman, and Ms. Carol Warmuth, as well as, all other staff that work in our our two student based health centers to attend the City Council meeting.  City Councilor Jerry Goss asked that a resolve recognizing each of them for the ten years that Penobscot Community Health Care has supported and partnered with the Brewer School Department to provide quality health care for the students of Brewer Schools be on the agenda.  I would like to commend PCHC and our dedicated staff for providing health care to our students.  Having been a teacher and an administrator in school systems that have a student health center and in some that do not, I was delighted to learn about our health centers.  Upon touring both of our health centers, I was impressed by the quality of health care we provide our students and the dedication to student health in Brewer.  I have always held the opinion that when students are healthy and all of their basic needs are met, students are in a wonderful place to learn.  I would also like to thank Jerry Goss for bringing this resolve forward and thank the City Council for recognizing PCHC and the Brewer Faculty for their dedication to our students and families for the last ten years.

  1.  International Students to Brewer High School 2016-2017 Update (Packet enclosed)

I have continued to research bringing International students to Brewer High School through the help of Suzanne Fox, an International Consultant who has been helping schools set up International Programs for over 30 years.  She is currently working with the following public high schools:  Falmouth, Grant-Deuel, Kennebunk, Leland, Gray, Orono and Stearns.  She also works with the following private schools:  MCI, John Bapst, Erskine, Catherine McAuley, Lee Academy and many more in New England.  She works with schools to travel abroad where she already has connections to arrange for students to study in your school.

This company has a strong reputation across upper New England for helping schools build successful international programs. They guide private and public schools through the entire process: from an introduction to SEVIS and its regulations, to an overview of the education system in China, and programs that will help faculty, students, and host families prepare for incoming international students. This organization provides faculty training, student orientation, host family background checks and placement services, monthly check-ins between the students and their home families, check-ins with the school, etc.

We are trying to set up a detailed meeting in March and I will have more to report out at our April meeting.  I’m specifically looking at numbers of students at public –vs- private school, start up costs and sustainability.

  1.  Strategic Planning Committee Update 

Committee met on February 25th.  During this meeting we reviewed the work that was previously done by Starboard Leadership and Jeff Wahlstrom.  It was nice to finally have clarity on what was completed in terms of a strategic plan.  The strategic planning framework was outlined with a mission, vision and six proposed strategic priorities.  This is as far as the committee did get in completing a strategic plan in 2012.  The current committee then broke into subgroups and compared strategic plans from other districts across the country discussing strengths in each creating a list of possible topics to include in our strategic plan.  We then reviewed our mission and vision and discussed the difference between these terms.  We also planned our community forum for March 10th at BCS at 6:30 PM and teacher feedback loop on March 3rd during the teacher workshop day. Our next meeting will be held on March 24th where we will review the input from the Community Forum and Teacher Feedback Loop to propose edits to our mission and vision, and draft our core beliefs.        

  1.  Budget Update 

Please see the one-page budget update regarding our progress on the budget process thus far.

 

February Superintendent Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Regular Meeting
6:00PM, Monday, February 1, 2016
Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

1a. Strengths of Brewer Activity/Blog and Responses
If you have not seen my blog yet, please read it on our district web site. This was an activity done with the teachers as part of our first week back to school after the holidays. It was a great way for me to learn about Brewer and a great way for teachers to reflect on their practice.

b. 8th Grade Step Up Day and Parent Night went very well. I want to commend Mr. Wall, Mr. Ruhlin, the faculty and student ambassadors that organized a great day that show cased the many reasons why Brewer High School should be their school of choice. Students went on tours, were welcomed into the gym and experienced a pep rally highlighting robotics and athletics, met the freshmen team teachers, had an interactive lunch, and completed a rotation where they learned about our art, JROTC, Outdoor Ed and Drama programs. The parent night was also very well attended.

2.  Strategic Planning Update
a. The strategic planning committee met on Thursday, January 28, 2016. After welcomes and an overview of school data and a brief discussion regarding current Maine law regarding Proficiency Based Diplomas, we discussed the work that was completed during the last gathering of the strategic planning committee in prior years. This was extremely informative as it helped with the understanding of the “missing strategic plan.” Jeff Wahlstrom from Starboard Leadership Consulting, worked with the strategic planning committee to develop survey questions. He then asked people from the community these questions and shared the data with the strategic team and a draft of a strategic plan which is included in your packets was developed by Jeff Wahlstrom. This draft consists of the following three goals with sample strategic action items:

1. Foster universally high expectations and aspirations for all students, while addressing inequities in learning opportunities across the curriculum and programs.
2. 21st Century Learning Expectations: Foster skills and knowledge for successful modern adult life, including critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and innovation.
3. Develop and maintain a positive, student-centered school culture that reflects rigorous academics, strong habits of mind, a committed pursuit of excellence, and an environment of mutual, respect, responsibilities, and ethics.

It is important to note that the committee found this “draft plan” after our meeting. The Superintendent will bring this plan back to the committee. However, the plan was not finished and many of the committee members expressed wanting to see the surveys/plan to move forward to develop a finished product for our district. Finished products from innovative schools across the country were then distributed for the committee to review and critique.

b. Next steps for Feb. 25th Meeting

The committee will review the surveys/action plan that was started and compare this work to the completed strategic plans that were distributed. We will share thoughts of plan review from other districts and discuss preferred components of BSD strategic plan. We will also develop an action team for each component and plan our community forum.

3.  Budget Process Update

a. Met with Steve Bost and Karen Fussell on Friday, January 29, 2016 to discuss the budget process and highlight where the school department is currently in our early phases of the budget process.

b. Presentations to BCS and BHS
Delivered a total of three presentations to BCS and BHS. These presentations were well received and teachers, ed techs and directors have been completing budget requests. Please see the Budget Preparation Document in your packets for the questions that are guiding the work of the faculty. We have received 139 responses and the requests have been very reasonable.

c. Meeting with Trustees (BHS Building Improvements)
Trustees looked into a QZAB loan which would require a 10% matching donor for any new improvements to the high school. I shared concerns regarding reducing our debt service ratio prior to starting any new projects at the high school. While I support continued building improvements, I’d like to see us be able to put money back toward instructional supplies and professional development lines. With the tasks we need to complete regarding personalized learning in our mission statement, our teachers need the professional development and the supplies to make this mission a reality for our students. The trustees were very understanding of this and also understood I wanted our building to be in tip top shape and supported monthly building walk-throughs to make sure we are keeping up with maintenance.

d. Administrator Contracts (Feb 15th Deadline)
I am meeting with all administrators to discuss their contracts by the end of this month. All administrators will receive a letter by February 15th based on that conversation regarding extending their contract out an additional year or maintaining their current contract. Salaries will be discussed during the budget process.

e. Building EPS Studies
Please see the building EPS studies in your packets. Currently we have no teachers leaving due to retirement. There needs to be a conversation regarding where we are going to find some savings. We will have weekly meetings with admin in February and I will share updates with the school committee.

f. UTC Budget and Implications
UTC is looking at a 10-15% increase in their overall budget this year due to a number of years staying flat or having a minimal increase. They also are looking at capital improvements including a new roof, windows and parking lot costing approximately 2.5 million dollars. All of this has an effect on our budget.

g.  Revenue idea for 17-18 school year in New Business
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. See expenditure sheet for new business.

4. Superintendent Convocation
Attended the Superintendent Convocation in January where I met many of my colleagues throughout the state. During this meeting, a number of issues were discussed around current legislation and a guest presenter, Dr. George Manning, shared on the topic “Organizational Climate” looking at how to build community in the workplace through shared vision, diversity, shared culture, communication, trust, shared leadership, developing your young members, positive reinforcements and alliances with outside groups. I was proud of Brewer as we have so many of these already in place or are working toward these with our strategic plan.

5. Thomas College Curriculum Coordinators/Superintendent’s Meeting
(Maine Curriculum Leader’s Association, Thomas College, January 29, 2016)

This meeting was a gathering of curriculum leaders, superintendents, and state representatives from the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee including Tori Kornfield who is the Chair of this committee. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to “right size” the current law LD 1422 regarding Proficiency Based Diplomas. We discussed the following:

1. Explore and identify cross-district common ground regarding standards, proficiency, and equitable opportunity to learn for all Maine students;
2. Identify the underlying issues and complexities contributing to common implementation challenges;
3. Draft key decision making criteria to inform state policy on standards, proficiency, and diplomas.

I do expect changes to this law but these changes will benefit students and fix the key issues and concerns within the law. Proficiency based diplomas will still be the main part of this law. The law will just be amended to meet the needs of ALL kids.

6. Cyr Bus Changes and Training of Bus Drivers
I met with Cyr bus with Reg Ruhlin, Jason Richards, and Dan Costain. We discussed how we can meet the needs of our parents, students and faculty and ensure the safety of our students while on the bus. We have arranged for a new bus discipline system where the school system will receive the bus slips and the students will meet with our administrators. There will be direct communication between the school and our parents. This system is used with many other districts and works well to have parents know that regardless of where their child might have a concern, they call the school. Our goal is for better communication between parent, student, school and bus driver with this system. We are here to help. We also have access to the video tapes without having to wait for them from Cyr Bus. We also will be doing a training with all the bus drivers after February vacation that will align with our school policies and expectations.

7. Penobscot Job Corps Luncheon/Visit and Tour
I was recently invited to the Penobscot Job Corps. I have always believed in Job Corps and the role this program can play for those few students that end up on our high school drop out list each year. The Penobscot Job Corps program gives these students another pathway to reach that diploma when all of our other pathways have not worked. I have seen this program provide job skills and provide a high school diploma that still meets the sending schools diploma requirements. I was impressed by the number of programs, how the academics are aligned with the high school and how easy the entry process is for the students. The number of students that graduate and have jobs lined up for them after graduation is also impressive. This program could save one or two students a year and would still count as a student graduate for Brewer instead of a student dropout. I will bring more on this program in March. I understand that the school committee discussed this last year but I would like for you to discuss it again with a clear understanding that this program is another pathway for maybe only 1 or 2 students a year if needed. There is no cost to Brewer for being a part of this program as the student still counts as a student on our roster.

Strengths of Brewer

Recently to start the year, I asked the faculty of Brewer to participate in a back to school activity where we reflect on our practice and our memories of Brewer, and share what makes Brewer School Department an exciting place to work and the best place to send our children to for their education.  In my first three months as Superintendent, one thing I have learned is that there is a strong commitment to education in Brewer and the community support is something I have not seen before in my 23 years in education.  I have heard the phrase, “teachers care about kids” and “teachers love what they do”, many times in my career.  I have met many remarkable teachers along my path as well. However, there is something special about Brewer.  I have been trying to describe it to the people that I meet, and the phrase “community of caring” is a good start but it is so much more than that.

From my very first interview, I remember telling my husband, we are moving!  The connection to the people around the table asking me questions and the connection to how this town supports not only their children but each other in times of need, I see everyday.  For example, when you get welcomed into Brewer, you get little care packages at your door, you get people that check in on you to see how you are doing, you get asked to dinner, you get that perfect little note in your mailbox when you are least expecting it.  In Brewer, everyone seems to know what is happening to everyone, but we also lend a helping hand without even thinking about it.  I have seen teachers during this holiday season, donate numerous gifts and food items to make sure children had a Christmas.  I have seen businesses call our schools to ask how they can help out and I have seen the numerous donations that support our schools each month at our School Committee meetings.

One of the things I have learned is that family has a strong presence in Brewer.  The generations of family that have gone through our schools and the number of employees that use to be students within our school system is amazing to me.  People always come back to Brewer to give to this community.  In the next few months, the district will be undergoing the strategic planning process where we will look at our vision and mission of our school department.  This process started in 2011 and fizzled out a little over the last few years.  Another strong showing of community is that when these members of this committee were called, they were all too eager to come back and represent their prospective areas and serve on our planning committee again. Another example of Brewer’s strong community and dedication to our schools!  During this process we will have a community forum and I will be asking for your voice in what we do well and what you would like to see us improve upon.  This is important in mapping out our plan for the next five years.  I look forward to having you participate through either online surveys, in person at our community forums, or in smaller neighborhood meetings.

Recently I presented to the faculty regarding pieces of our vision and mission focusing on student-centered and personalization of instruction.  Offering our students multiple pathways to demonstrate their learning and multiple pathways to earn a diploma with strong programming is a goal for Brewer.  We believe that all kids can learn and our faculty works hard to help each child find a way to demonstrate that learning.  We offer some of the most unique programs in the state from our Forestry and Outdoor Education program to our Air Force JROTC program where you can actually get your pilot’s license!  If art and music are your niche, our award winning band, new Art wing, and drama program are simply out of this world.  Brewer offers multiple AP courses, dual enrollment college courses, and support for all students to be successful.  I could go on and I have in my prior article that was in The Scholar  that was mailed to all of our Brewer residents written and published by our students.

As I close this entry, I wanted to share with you some of the statements sent to me by the teachers.  I have put a slideshow together for you that you can view.  Please enjoy.  And if you ever have a moment, please stop by the office and say hello.  I love to meet and talk with the people that make Brewer such a dynamic community to live in and raise our children in.

Please click here to enjoy the show!

January Superintendent’s Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, January 4, 2016
Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

1. School Event Recognition:  Band and Choral Concerts

Just wanted to take a moment and recognize our choral director Heather Macleod, Brady Harris, and Lanissa Nadeau for their remarkable talent and efforts with our children in the Brewer School Department. I attended all music events prior to the Holiday Break and each left me wanting more and anticipating what I would hear the next week. The students and parents are to also be commended for the time they put in practicing and bringing their students to the early morning rehearsals and practices. Their performances certainly put me in the holiday spirit!

2. Strategic Planning Update

We spent approximately twelve hours of time contacting prior committee members searching for a strategic plan that may have existed in 2011. After speaking with a few committee members and reviewing all school committee minutes from 2011 through 2015, we have determined the following:

March 10, 2011 Curriculum Audit Report, moved to receive by SC

December 5, 2011 Table approval of Strategic Planning Committee to January 2012

January 9, 2012 Nomination/approval of SP committee

August 16, 2012 Workshop meeting on Mission & Vision led by Mr. Jeff Walstrom

November 1, 2012 Approved first reading of Policy AD- Mission & Vision

November 5, 2012 Approved second reading/adoption of Policy AD – Mission & Vision

February 4, 2013 Moved to receive Brewer High School Strategic Plan (5-year)

September 9, 2013- October 7, 2013  Mr. McIntire reported on the progress of his draft Strategic Plan (District Improvement Plan)

February 3, 2014  Mr. McIntire proposed a work session to continue toward completion of

October 6, 2014  Mr. Leithiser presented the Brewer Community 4-year plan, which will be in line to end with the high school 5-year plan

March 12, 2015 Workshop on District Improvement Plan

What is next? Now that the School Committee has given the charge to form a strategic planning team on December 7, 2015, this team will be formed. A survey monkey has been developed and a one-call will go out to our parents and teachers this week together information and form our team. Prior committee members will be called first to see if they would like to continue the work they started. Our first meeting will be on January 28. The agenda for the meeting can be found here.  This agenda also contains the dates of all future meetings.

3. Budget Process Update

Gretchen Gardner and I have met to review the budget process and where we are with salaries and benefits compared to this year. With all contracts signed, this year we actually have some firm numbers when it comes to salaries. With steps and 2% percent increases and a ten percent increase budgeted for insurance we are estimating an increase $668,446. This is not unusual at this stage in the budget. This week I will be presenting to BCS and we will also be starting the request process through teachers. Administrators will have their building studies to me by January 11th. The BHS presentation was held on January 11th. The budget timeline can be found here.

4. Policy Review List and Timeline

The Maine School Management Association lists the policies that are required by all school districts. After a thorough review of the policies, a required list with our current needs has been supplied. The missing policies will be our first priority. We will then review outdated policies that need updating. Please see the policy review list in your packets.

5. ESSA Overview (Every Student Succeed Acts)

New Education Law Reduces Federal Reach President Obama signed into law on Dec. 10 a replacement for the unpopular and ultimately unworkable law that was known as No Child Left Behind, putting more control in the hands of states and school districts and preserving the local governance authority of local school boards. The vote was 85 to 12 in the Senate and 359 to 64 in the House.

Now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the law updates what was officially called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which essentially defines the federal government’s role in K-12 The ESSA goes in a distinctly different direction than NCLB, which set achievement goals for all schools and labeled them as “failing” when they didn’t make the required progress toward 100 percent proficiency for all students in reading and math. The new ESSA limits the federal government’s role and pushes decision-making around accountability to the state and individual school districts. Standardized state tests are still part of the picture, but other factors will be considered, like school-climate and teacher and student engagement. States would still have to test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, but get wide discretion in setting goals and determining how to hold schools and districts accountable. States would still have to identify their lowest 5 percent performing schools, and identify schools where subgroups, including children in poverty, are underachieving. The difference is the federal government no longer would prescribe interventions in those schools. That would be a state and local decision. The U.S. DOE also would no longer have a say in how teacher evaluations are to be conducted.

A primer published by Education Week just days before the House vote outlined key initiatives in the proposal and the difference between current law and the old ESEA and NCLB waivers.

 States would still have to submit accountability plans for approval to the U.S. DOE. These new ESSA plans would start in the 2017-18 school year.

 States would set the rules around teacher evaluations. Maine’s system is in state statute and currently is in its pilot year.

 Gone is the now outdated requirement to get all students to proficiency by a date certain – a system that created so called “failing schools” under NCLB.

 States can pick their own goals around proficiency and graduation rates, but must set an expectation that groups furthest behind close gaps.

 States have to identify and intervene in the bottom 5 percent of performers, and these schools have to be identified at least once every three years.

 States have to identify and intervene in high schools where the graduation rate is 67 percent or lower.

 States must identify schools where subgroup students are struggling. Subgroups include English learners, students in special education, racial minorities and those in poverty.

 For elementary and middle schools there must be at least four indicators.

 That includes three academic indicators: proficiency on state tests, English-language proficiency, plus some other academic factor like growth on state tests.

 New is the requirement that at least one non-traditional indicator must be included like student engagement, educator engagement, access to and completion of advanced coursework, post-secondary readiness, school climate/safety, or others proposed by the state.

 For high schools the indicators are proficiency on tests, English-language proficiency, graduation rates, plus at least one other indicator that focuses a little more on whether students have the opportunity to learn, or are ready for post-secondary work.

 For the bottom 5 percent of schools and for high schools with high dropout rates, districts will work with school staff to come up with an evidenced-based turnaround plan and the state will monitor the effort. If schools continue to founder for no more than four years, the state can step in with its own plan.

 For schools where subgroup students are struggling, the schools have to come up with an evidenced-based plan. If problems persist, the district steps in. For chronic underperformance within subgroups – defined as scores as bad as the bottom 5-percent schools- the district and state have to step in.

Thank you to the MSMA for providing a thorough summary of ESSA.