Monday, May 07, 2007

Channell 22 Schedule - Must See TV!

Steve Maguire presents "Never Too Young" - running continuously

Steve Maguire held a workshop for parents, particluarly focused on 5th and 6th grade but open to all parents, to discuss substance abuse and how to prevent it and discuss it.

It is very informative and entertaining and should be viewed by all parents as it offers practical advice and gives food for thought on this very difficult topic

Interesting Education Articles

April 29 Boston Globe Magazine - "A Long, Long School Day"
An interesting article on a groundbreaking public school experiment with extending the school day - Check it out and share your thoughts.

January 28 Boston Sunday Globe Ideas section - "Junior High"

With so many middle schools performing poorly, the movement for K-8 is gaining momentum in Boston and nationwide. But some educators think combining the middle grades with high school, rather than elementary school is a better formula.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Joint PTO/School Council Meeting - March 20

Joint PTO/School Council
Meeting Highlights – March 20, 2006

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting including the principals, representatives from all 6 PTO’s and Councils, three representatives from the School Committee as well as other parents and community members.

1. Opening Remarks – Dick Blake, Principal of Gates Intermediate School, welcomed everyone to Gates and the 4th Joint PTO/Council meeting. He encouraged the group to participate, asking folks to “mix it up” and stressing that communication within the district is key to its success. Dick welcomed Mark Mason who took a moment to introduce Michele Morrissey Smith. Michele is running a ‘sticker campaign’ for the empty position on School Committee which means her name will not be on the ballot but that folks can write her name in or obtain stickers with her name on it to vote for her.

Michele introduced herself and told a bit about her background. She has been in education for over 20 years, the majority of which has been in the Brockton Public Schools. Her experience ranges from Kindergarten to college. She has 3 children in the Scituate Public Schools, all at Hatherly Elementary School. She serves on the Cushing School Council as a community representative. She is currently finishing the Educational Leadership Program at UMASS Lowell and, with her Bachelors in Education, Masters in Reading and Graduate studies in Educational Leadership she has been in a classroom as a student and a teacher since she was 4 years old. She looks forward to working with the school committee if she is successful in the election.

2. School Committee Communication Sub-Committee Survey – Libby Michaud, Chairperson for the School Committee and Chair of the Communication Sub-Committee, spoke on behalf of the sub-committee. The sub-committee has representatives from each of the 6 schools as well as all of the various education support groups (CORSE, SEA, etc.). The sub-committee’s goal is to improve communication in the district. To do so, the sub-committee plans to launch a community-wide survey to obtain information on the community’s perception of the Scituate Public Schools.

After researching other educational surveys, the sub-committee found some survey questions they could use and added others that were obtained from the principals, administration and sub-committee members. The survey will be launched soon using a free internet tool called survey monkey. Tracy Curley, one of the vice principals at the High School, did the majority of the technical work in getting the draft survey pulled together in survey monkey.

Libby did a short demonstration to show how easy it is to do the survey, how simple the questions are and how quick it is to complete. It is still in draft form as there are a few technical glitches. It is anonymous and the information obtained will help the administration and School Committee in developing and/or modifying their future goals for the district. There will be a link on the school website, the CSI: Scituate blog and a blast email will be sent to all the parents.

Members of the audience thought each school could consider doing one of their own, depending on what the results of this survey show. The High School principal, Donna Nuzzo, spoke about the accreditation survey they need to do in the near future. Everyone acknowledged it will be interesting to see what the response rate is.

3. Yes for Scituate – Karen Connelly and Lynda Ferguson spoke on behalf of the group. A lot of facts and information was shared about the upcoming vote. They shared the website and information about absentee ballots. They advertised their upcoming “The 5 Questions” public forum with speakers from across the town to discuss each of the 5 override questions.

Jamie Strombino, a member of school committee, stressed how important it was that the town pass this override and how much the money is needed. He also mentioned that the committee was aware that bus fees continued to be a concern among members of the community. Many have been asking why they will not be eliminated if the override passes. The administration and committee considered eliminating the fees but upon further consideration kept the fees as the majority of the districts throughout MA have bus fees but more importantly, to ensure that majority of community members did not perceive the increased taxed (from a passed override) as a way to eliminate bus fees. This type of perception could compromise the town’s ability to pass the override.

Libby Michaud also mentioned that the amount being requested in the override was not near as much as the school committee thought was needed to support the district as it so desperately needs. The figure they moved forward with was lower to ensure that all of the town’s need could be combined and considered by the community.

4. Other – Billy Johnston, the candidate for the other open position on school committee, was recognized as being in attendance and received applause for running and hopefully being a ‘shoe in’.

Libby Michaud was recognized and received applause for her 6 years of service to the school committee as she is finishing up her term and will no longer be serving.

5. Kids Voting – Sharon Mohr spoke on behalf of the Kids Voting team (she, Marty Grassie and Lisa Fenton). She thanked Marty for pulling together packets of information for all of the teachers to use in the classroom including civics, open circle and history. The curriculum stresses the importance of voting and the hope is that the students will become registered voters and will bring their parents to the polls on 3/31.

Last election Kids Voting had a great turn-out. Pencils will be given again. The program is sponsored by the Scituate Education Alliance (SEA).

Marty Grassie recognized Steve Strecker’s efforts in getting awareness and volunteers from the HS student community.

6. CSI: Scituate – Barbara Lydon and Sharon Mohr gave a quick update on CSI: Scituate’s progress. The newsletters (Issue 1 & Issue 2) were distributed to all of the schools and throughout the community in January and February 2006. The blog is up and running and is receiving a lot of ‘hits’ and comments. Sharon did a quick demonstration on how to make a comment on the blog at Both stressed that the comments are anonymous but they encouraged people who are making comments to give themselves a blogger name. Comments will still be anonymous but it will be easier to respond to someone’s comment/question if they have a name (i.e., “scituatedad”).

The override is the hot topic on the blog currently with 45+ comments. Their hope is once the override election is over, people will continue to go on and post valuable information. Libby Michaud spoke up and said it is like writing a letter to the Mariner and then others can agree or disagree instantly.

7. Community of Concern – Jane McGovern spoke briefly about Community of Concern, a coalition of parents, educators, prevention specialists, law enforcement and selectman focusing on the risks of drug and alcohol use.

She mentioned an up-coming program (which is not sponsored by Community of Concern), Never Too Young. It is at Jenkins focused on 5th and 6th grade parents (and open to anyone else who is interested) hosted by Steve McGuire and Danny Lynch.

Jeff Wolfsberg, prevention specialist, is scheduled to come back to the HS in May.

Choices – An Evening with the Steverman Family will be held again on June 6th 2007.

A round table discussion will be held next month with members of Community of Concern.

A panel discussion is planned with Donna Nuzzo (principal at the HS), members of law enforcement and prevention specialists. The date will be determined.

8. Information Sharing Among the Schools (PTOs and Councils) -

- Jenkins – Marty Grassie opened by saying safety is now the schools #1 job, over educating the children. He recognized that Jenkins is lucky to have doors that lock, security cameras and other features that making a school safe require. With that in mind, he and members of his council and staff set out to improve the security at Jenkins. They now have a system with picture ID badges for all staff and volunteers in the building. He also mentioned the 3rd annual basketball game with the 6th graders vs. the teachers to benefit Camp Bourndale. They raised $3,000 to use for partial scholarships by having the HS gym filled to capacity. Next year they would like to challenge one of the other schools to participate as well.

- Hatherly – Mari-An Fitzmaurice said building needs have been the number one focus of their council. She mentioned that the PTO funded the purchase of 2 Smart Boards which are being used by one 3rd grade class and one 6th grade class with the intent of training the teachers and students, working out the glitches and sharing them with the remainder of the school next year.

Wampatuck -. A Wampatuck teacher, Dave Smallie, developed a program called “Math Madness”. It is a series of games and activities intended to reinforce math learning in all of the grade levels. Dave recruited and trained all of the parent volunteers for the program. In addition, Wampatuck plans to do something special to memorialize Terry Gorman who recently passed away. Terry had done years of service for Wampatuck and they are brainstorming as to what to do.

Cushing -. Cushing will hold a Wellness Week April 23rd. There will be an assembly with Mr. Slimbody and a Walk/Jog-A-Thon during gym. Students can be sponsored based on the number of laps they run. Funds raised will be used to purchase a new storage shed for outdoor gym equipment. Cafeteria staff will be focused on serving healthy foods. Cushing will also be hosting a Literacy day where children are encouraged to write and books can be published.

High School – Donna Nuzzo said the council has been focused on the HS accreditation process. They had to complete sub-reports for next year’s team visit in April 2008.

Gates – Dick Blake mentioned that they followed in Jenkin’s footsteps by hosting a student vs. teacher basketball game. Lynn Bastoni, Gates Vice Principal, spoke about her Vice Principal Lunch Program she started this year. After attending a retreat Lynn made a commitment to herself to help change the image of Gates. It is viewed as a dark, scary school. She believes perception can become reality so she wanted to change the perception to “good things happen at Gates”. She started an incentive program to increase morale. Teachers nominate students to have a pizza party with the vice principal. Nominations are based on acts of kindness, good grades, improvement, etc. She said she is getting to know the students better and the students are very motivated to want to get nominated and participate. Lynn thanked the PTO for sponsoring the program, including their volunteer hours decorating each month.

9. School Committee Building Sub-Committee - Gates Intermediate School will be the focus of this committee this year as a new school is needed or significant renovations. In 2005 all of the Town’s buildings were audited and Gates was mentioned as having significant deficiencies and needing significant work. In 2006, Scituate submitted a statement of interest to the State of MA to apply for financial assistance to build or renovate Gates. Maura plans to go in front of the Board of Selectman after the 3/31 election to form a town-wide building committee. As the Board of Selectman are in charge of all Town buildings, this committee needs to look at what land is available not only for the school but looking at the big picture of all of the town buildings going forward. The School Building Authority requires all parties in Town participate. Once the state accepts Scituate in to the Grant process, grant applications will be accepted starting in July 2008. Maura made it clear we would be ready for this.

10. Closing Remarks – Dick thanked everyone for coming. He introduced John Danehey, the candidate for selectman and thanked him for coming. John gave a bit about his background and how he sees his experience with planning and zoning as a key element for the Town going forward. He has 3 young children and is very supportive of the needs of the schools.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Yes for Scituate - Questions 1 & 5 pass town vote!

As you well know, Questions 1 & 5, which directly benefit the schools passed the override vote in Saturday's town election. Kudos go to the Yes for Scituate group who passed the override.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Annual Town Election - Ballot Questions Explained

Annual Town Election
Saturday March 31st Polls open: 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. SHS Gym

Ballot Question 1 2008 operational override of $2.7 million
A YES VOTE means that the town will have sufficient funds to cover the $1 million dollar shortfall in its current budget. This will ensure we will maintain current town services and also includes needed funds for:
Fire - emergency medical supplies DPW - road work, lighting, grounds Library -staff, books, programs, computer needs Police –traffic officer/ cruiser Schools - necessary teachers at all schools and yearly curriculum maintenance

The cost per household, based on a home value of $500,000, is $26.25 per month.

A NO VOTE means that there will be at least $1 million dollars in across the board cuts to current budgets. This could lead to a compromise in public safety due to cuts in fire and police staffing hours. Our library will continue to be understaffed. As for our schools, a budget cut will mean reducing course offerings at our middle and high schools, further overcrowding of classrooms at all schools, substantial cuts in art and music, and a serious threat to our high school’s graduation requirements.

The Selectmen, Advisory, and School Committee recommend a YES vote on Ballot Question 1.

Ballot Question 2 Hatherly Road Fire Station $3.5 million Debt Exclusion

A YES VOTE means that a new fire station will be built on Hatherly Road to improve response times to all residents of Scituate. It will further fund a new pumper truck to service this station.

The cost per household, based on a home value of $500,000, will be $3.25 per month.

The Selectmen, Advisory, and Fire Department recommend a YES vote on Ballot Question 2.

Ballot Question 3 FY 2009 operational override of $600,000 for 8 fire fighters

A YES VOTE means that 8 new firefighters will be added to Hatherly Station if it is approved in Ballot Question 2.

The cost per household, based on a home value of $500,000, is $5.83 per month to be added to your tax bill when the firefighters are needed to staff the new building.

The Selectmen, Advisory, and Fire Department recommend a YES vote on Ballot Question 3.

Ballot Question 4 Senior & Community Center $3.2 million Debt Exclusion

A YES VOTE means that the town will support the building of a much-needed new Senior and Community Center.
If approved the current senior center will be sold and the proceeds will help offset the cost of the new building.

The cost per household, based on a home value of $500,000 is $3 per month.

The Selectmen, Advisory, and Council on Aging recommend a YES vote on Ballot Question 4.

Ballot Question 5 School Furniture, Books & Computers $800,000 Debt Exclusion

A YES VOTE replaces broken desks/chairs, outdated computer equipment and an out of print Kindergarten to 12th grade English Language Arts program. Our current ELA daily student workbooks, replacement textbooks, and teacher guides are no longer available for purchase.

The cost per household, based on a home value of $500,000, is $1.75 per month.

A NO VOTE means that the schools will be unable to purchase the necessary computer equipment, desks/chairs and books. It currently costs $100,000 to copy the textbooks/worksheets. This money will have to be funded from the budget already at risk in ballot question 1.
The Selectmen, Advisory, and School Committee recommend a YES vote on Ballot Question 5

If all of the above questions are approved, the tax bill for a home assessed at $500,000 will increase by $40 per month.
For more information go to