School Comm Ends 2014 with New Goals… Jan. 7, 2015
By Ann Needle
Bidding adieu to 2014, the Nashoba School Committee passed a long-awaited milestone at its final meeting of the year in December. However, the accomplishment left some members uneasy.
In the works since the school year began, the 5-year District Improvement Plan was approved 4-3 on December 17, with changes. Among Stow’s representatives, Maureen Busch voted in favor, while Lynn Colletti and Nicole Odekirk voted against the Plan.
The three main goals are to foster and sustain educational services that support, enrich and extend the curriculum for all students; use indicators of student growth that show achievement and potential for instructional planning; and maintain and improve the space, materials and technology necessary for a quality education.
The Plan was introduced in September, but subject to long debate at SC meetings. Discussions were postponed a few times when other SC agenda items took more meeting time than expected. Committee Chair Nancy Federspiel remarked that a workshop for the SC, lead by a facilitator from the MA Association of School Committees, was helpful in shoring up the final draft. And, after reviewing some District Improvement Plans from surrounding districts, Federspiel concluded, “I was relieved and happy that ours is cut-to-the-chase.”
But, there was sharp protest to the Plan from other SC members. Stow Rep. Nicole Odekirk maintained, “I would say, right now, we don’t support the exceptional,” aiming only for the minimum benchmarks under each goal.
Lynn Colletti asserted that the Plan did not directly promote student excellence. Colletti also requested that the SC review each goal one more time before any vote.
“If we sit through another three meetings, that’s half the year gone,” protested Lancaster Rep. Cathy Thiel. Agreed Maureen Busch, “We’ve spent so much time on this.”
“Talking about [how]we’ve spent so much time on this I find is disrespectful to the process,” said Bolton Rep. Lorraine Romasco. She also noted that she would like to see more measurable goals.
The District Improvement Plan was voted in, with the caveat that the goal of becoming a Level 1 district be added.(MA uses MCAS scores to determine where a school and district falls on five levels, with 1 being the highest. As a district, Nashoba currently is Level 2.) For the complete District Improvement Plan, go to www.nrsd.net, and click on “School Committee.” The Plan is under “Meeting Packets” listed for December 17, 2014.
Still awaiting approval are the Superintendent’s Goals, which also were introduced back in September. The SC agreed with Nancy Federspiel’s suggestion to allow its Personnel Subcommittee to review the current draft and align it to the District Improvement Plan.
Pompo Modulars Find a Home
A double modular, mobile unit that housed some classes at the former Pompositticut School when it became overcrowded will be helping relieve the space crunch at Nashoba Regional High School.
The SC voted unanimously to move the double unit to the high school. Superintendent Michael Wood explained that the sole cost for the two classrooms would be about $85,000 for moving and installation. The Town of Stow is offering the two connected modular units to the district for free, according to Wood.
In other votes from the December meeting, the SC approved potential spending of up to $1,000, as a contribution to a fund aimed at possible legal action against the governor for proposing dramatic cuts to regional transportation for FY2015.
As Wood explained, this fund was started by the MA Association of Regional Schools (Wood is a member of its board) when the governor’s budget proposed cutting regional aid from FY14’s 90% funding to 60% this fiscal year. MARS contends that the governor is legally limited in the amount he can cut from regional transportation each year. Nashoba’s contribution would come from its legal budget, and would be refunded if MARS does not take legal action, Wood said.
While Nancy Federspiel called the proposal a good risk for potentially getting back thousands of dollars, Bolton Rep. Lorraine Romasco maintained that the fund would not be substantial enough to go up against the governor. The SC voted to authorize the money, but with Nicole Odekirk and Romasco voting against the proposal.
Finally, the SC unanimously voted to accept a lease-to-purchase agreement on a 14-passenger van, to be available to all Nashoba schools. The lease runs for 4 years, at a total price of $46,306.