Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanks, and Back to Work

I want to thank the community for giving me the privilege of serving four more years on the Newburyport School Committee. Aside from the Mayor, I was apparently the highest vote-getter of all the candidates- City Council and School Committee. Far from being a personal endorsement by the voters, I interpret that as a strong indication that the community likes where the schools are going, they support the leadership of Dr. Kerble and the team he is assembling. Again, thank you.

There is a tremendous amount of work to do. Of course, we have the two school initiatives to move forward- the Bres and the Nock/Molin. We are fast approaching the point where we will be working on the actual designs with the architects.

I believe that these schools should be among the most community-friendly buildings in the city. To that end, I intend to suggest that we include the most up-to-date library technology, and push for hours to be set-aside for members of the community to access that technology after school hours. I will push for the installation of a fully integrated community access broadcast in one of the two new school projects, to enable the community to see more of what the students are doing- plays, presentations, debates- to allow School Committee meetings to be broadcast live, with audio finally audible. And of course, to enhance community access to innovative and informative programming. This, again, would be open to community use- effectively doubling the capacity of PortMedia to utilize a "second studio" for community access. I will encourage that each school, as part of a new PE initiative, build state of the art, safe, outfitted fitness rooms for use by the students as part of an enhanced PE/Wellness curriculum, and insist that these facilities be available to the community when not being used by students.

We need new buildings, but what is happening inside the buildings matters as well. This budget season, my own priorities, which I expect will coincide with that of PTO's, School Councils, and administration, will be to seek additional funding to restore foreign language to the middle school, restore 3-6 full-time staff at the High School so that we can increase the sections of classes available to students, as well as the number of electives to reach the 990 hours on instruction the state expects for every student. And finally, I will also press for the funding for a second Math Literacy coach to work with pre-k-8th grade.

I look forward to working with the School Committee, with Mr. deKanter, who is returning, and with Audrey McCarthy, who will be joining us in January. And with Dr. Ralph Orlando, whose commitment to placed-based education, the GOMI initiative, and science in the schools has been a driving force for change.

There's more than enough work for the next four years. Through attendance at our School Committee meetings, participation in our rolling array of Ad Hoc study groups, through breaking through those institutional barriers that still exist making community participation inside the schools and classrooms difficult at times, I urge Newburyport to join our efforts to make our good, good schools into greater schools.

Thanks. I am both privileged, and humbled by your confidence in our work.

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