It was with great relief that I left the house yesterday morning at 7:30AM for a work meeting, knowing the my husband would walk our boys to school at 8:20 and that they would be there all. Day. Long. I am so glad that summer camp season is over and we're back to routine.
I am certain that the teachers and staff at the Fitzgerald, under the leadership of Dr. Castelline, are doing an amazing job of handling the logistics of juggling more than 500 kids, including two classrooms each with 2 grades of LBRR kids and one classroom of ELL students. I am also certain that our wonderful science teacher, Mrs. White, is excelling at teaching and has a cart filled with cool science things and that Ms. Kelly, our amazing drama specialist, is able to get our students adept at performing and public speaking no matter where she is.
Tonight, I will be watching the School Committee meeting (and maybe even live-Tweeting it, as I have in the past.) I just looked at the agenda: http://www.walthampublicschools.org/SC/September%204%202013.pdf and I am a little dismayed that there is no mention of the increased communication channels with parents that were brought up repeatedly during our meeting with the mayor. It is a very full agenda, however, after a lot of heated exchange and vitriol and concern and meetings, it is frustrating to see that the line items under "Communications" include grants that have been made to schools in the district and, apparently, a request for funding. That isn't the sort of 'communication' and 'transparency' that we were looking for. Maybe the plan to have School Committee members 'assigned' to each school to improve communication will be under #7, Curriculum and Instruction? I hope to hear during the Superintendent's report (#5) that she is ready to implement a parent-council, of sorts, to report directly to her on what is happening in each school. Because, really, it just wouldn't be right to have to do everything that was done during the last school year all over again.
What happened in 2012-13? I could go on for paragraphs, but let's just say that major changes were made without knowledge of what resources were or were not available. And the reason that there wasn't good knowledge was because no one ever visited the schools involved (it's one thing to know the blueprints; it's entirely another to see 487 kids use the space on a daily basis) and no one reached out to the parents or to the principal, who is the building administrator. When parents reached out to the Superintendent and to the School Committee members, replies and responses never came. So, parents felt that we had no representation on the School Committee. The Superintendent and the School Committee felt attacked. And then, on June 30th, the principal resigned, leaving the parents even more concerned and increasingly frustrated.
So we spent the summer demanding better communication. I, personally, thought that things were improving and that we would hear about new channels for communication and see strides to increase transparency in decision making. And then I saw the agenda.
I will tune in tonight to see if there's anything new. And I probably will live-Tweet anything that is of interest. If it's really boring, I'll just make stuff up: stuff like the new channels of communication that are being implemented immediately by the School Committee members and the Superintendent. @lizhmccarthy
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