Monday, June 17, 2013
While the system was slightly new this year, members of the School Committee overall were satisfied with the work of Superintendent Bill Olsen over the past year.
As the school year comes to a close, Westford's students are seeing the their final grades for the year, but they're not alone. Each summer, the School Committee gives their grades to Superintendent Bill Olsen on his progress toward a series of goals set for the school year. Presented during last week's meeting, the six members of the Committee present throughout the year was generally pleased with his performance on the five overarching goals set for Olsen, as well as his overall performance. Although he "exceeded" expectations only twice (with School Committee Member Arthur Benoit saying his performance fell between "meeting" and "exceeding" expectations on implementation of the new DESE Education Evaluation System, none of the members…
Thursday, May 23, 2013
A parent began Monday's School Committee meeting with concerns over the presence of rainbow flags in classrooms. What's your take?
During the 2011 Fall Town Meeting, Westford voters shot down a resolution to fly one resident's flag representing the world alongside the U.S. flag due to the symbolic importance that the Stars and Stripes hold. In the vein of that argument, Monday's School Committee meeting began discussing the symbolism of a different flag in Westford's schools. Local parent John Underhill told the board he felt uncomfortable with the presence of rainbow flags in the classroom, best known as symbols for the LGBT community as well as markers against intolerance based on sexual orientation. In his comments to the board, he cited his view that the flags violate his rights as a Westford parent to opt out his children out of any potential sexual education, …
Monday, May 13, 2013
The board took at look at recommended changes to the Westford Academy student handbook last week.
The School Committee unanimously approved a set of recommended changes to the Westford Academy student handbook during their meeting last week. Presented by Westford Academy principal James Antonelli and Dean Robert Ware, the change that drew the most discussion was that of not allowing students who are failing two or more classes or who were absent to attend extra-curricular events such as proms or sporting events without administrative approval. Ware and Antonelli told the board they wanted to modify the existing wording in the handbook to provide flexibility for the administration in cases where it may help the student to attend events as well as instances where it wouldn't, also citing that discussions already take place with the …
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Eight-year-old Alan Quan was honored during Monday night's School Committee meeting.
For many folks, overcoming some of life’s obstacles can be daunting at times. But for eight-year old Alan Quan of Westford, there are no obstacles standing in his way. Quan, who is visually impaired, received a Special Recognition Certificate from Westford Public Schools superintendent Bill Olsen at this past Monday’s School Committee Meeting. The Award honored Quan and his first place finish in the 2013 New England Braille Challenge which is put on by the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, MA. The Regional Braille Challenge is a reading and writing competition for students who are in grades one through twelve. Part of the competition included the reading of two passages and then the spelling of forty-five braille spelling words. …
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Monday night's discussion on the proposed new policy pitted arguments of respect for democracy versus respect for accrued experience.
Every summer, the Westford School Committee evaluates how the Superintendent of Schools performed in achieving their yearly stated goals, but should recently unelected School Committee members get to submit "lame duck" evaluations on their way out of office? On Monday night, the School Committee said they should not after three motions on the proposed policy and debate between respecting the will of the voters versus respecting accrued experience of outgoing members. The policy, P2103, requires the Superintendent to file a self-assessment on how they believe they met their stated goals for the year (policy P2012), which is then graded by members of the Committee in June. Proposed amendments to the policy would have allowed outgoing …
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The committee heard from Westford Academy's new School Resource Officer as well as the results of the most recent Youth Risk Behaviors Survey.
Once just a dollar figure on a budget proposal, School Committee members were able to put a name to a face of the man hired to help allay parental concerns over drugs and other safety issues at Westford Academy. Westford Academy School Resource Officer Justin Agraz came before the committee on Monday to talk about what’s been done so far during his time on the job as well as next steps to help make Westford Academy a safer place. A seven year veteran of the Westford Police Department, Agraz was a Marine and Westford Academy graduate prior to coming onto this position in the fall. School Committee members were hopeful that Agraz could serve not just as a protector, but also as a role model to help students not engage in risky behaviors. “…
Monday, January 28, 2013
Discussion on a possible override returns to the FinCom's agenda tonight in a special meeting at Town Hall. Here's the options they have to mull offer.
Town Manager Jodi Ross and Finance Director Dan O'Donnell provided the Finance Committee with six different options on how to proceed in the wake of the recent debate on a possible override to help bridge the gap for the School Department's requested budget for Fiscal Year 2013. We've attached the overviews to all six of those preliminary plans obtained from the town, and today we want your take on which one of these is the best, or if you think they should be modified or scrapped altogether. We'll have more from tonight's meeting as soon as possible, but in the meantime, please let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Friday, January 25, 2013
A possible override vote still looms as the multiple boards mulled various options on what to do about the School Department's proposed budget.
Will there be an override on the warrant at this spring’s Town Meeting? It’s still not clear, but the Finance Committee continued to discuss the possibilities during Thursday night’s meeting along with the Board of Selectmen and School Committee. The possibility came in part due to an approximately 4.5 percent proposed increase from last year’s school budget request by the School Committee, approximately $975,000 above Town Manager Jodi Ross’ recommended budget. That increase came primarily from to $450,000 for new expenses related to state mandated special education costs along with three other areas. The first was increases also came from new positions begun this year, like the School Resource Officer at Westford Academy ($72,000), …
Friday, January 18, 2013
There was no resolution on Thursday night, but it appears that a Prop 2 1/2 override could occur in Westford this spring.
Westford voters will face difficult budget decisions this spring, and perhaps some of the most difficult decisions were on the docket were on the Finance Committee’s plate on Thursday night. Superintendent Bill Olsen and the Westford School Committee was on hand to present a proposed Fiscal Year 2014 department budget of $49,775,689 for the inspection of the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, a number that grew approximately $400,000 in the past few weeks due largely to the addition of a new special education student that recently moved into the district. The figure presented an increase of 4.59 percent, which Olsen informed the boards was near the average statewide increase of 4.25 percent and included teacher salaries that were…
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
While no decision was made on Monday night and no decision may be made this year due to budgetary pressures, the role may be filled sometime in the near future if Monday's meeting was any indication.
Westford’s schools will more than likely have to face another year of difficult decisions during this spring’s discussions on the next fiscal year’s budget, and one of those decisions was up front and center during Monday night’s School Committee meeting. Members on the board brought three school level technology directors to testify on the possibility of reintroducing a districtwide technology coordinator, refilling a role that was vacated four years ago. After hearing reports gathered from the trio presented by Crisafulli School technology director Andrea Gardner that members of the board believed helped crystallize the reasoning to bring back a director, a variety of other reasons were also brought forth to help support the need for …