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