The Newburyport School Committee’s efforts in conjunction with administration has always been to try and do what is best for the children, to provide continuity and stability and prevent crisis.
That is our ethical, and primary responsibility within all of our dealings with the community. And we are entrusted, by vote, to do this to the best of our ability.
Administrative positions in the Newburyport schools have been looked at, have been cut, and while we have maintained small class size, we have made lean our supervision ratio.
In FY ‘06 there was a total cut to administration of 1.6 FTE to save $107,500. But at what cost?
The supervision ratio between administrator / supervisor to teachers today, in the Newburyport district could be 8 : 1 ? 10 : 1 ? or 20 : 1.
However, it is not. Instead it is: 30 : 1, and 34 : 1.
Administration is related to the supervision of teachers. Cuts to administration has tremendous impact on the climate and culture of our schools, but especially on the supervision and evaluation of staff, curriculum and instruction, as well as the organization and administration of MCAS.
Dean of Student life equates to “Assistant Principal” at the high school. Dean of Student services has the role of working closely with guidance, and with all of our students, including those with special needs, to see that their educational plans are properly implemented.
The Curriculum Coordinator works closely with building administration and teaching staff to ensure that the curriculum is well aligned and that efforts in curriculum and instruction are effective.
One type of administrator is the Curriculum Director. These administrators are closely involved with K-12 support and monitoring of curriculum, instruction and assessment practices, oversight of the continuity of all instruction, helping to provide professional development opportunities, and more.
The Student Services person at the Middle School, actually heads up all special education, as Special Education Director in our school system. A key position, which when slippage occurs, can be very costly. I believe this is one area that has hurt Pentucket in the last year, resulting in special education costs failing to be reimbursed.
Special Education costs and programs are well managed in Newburyport, providing appropriate services, which prevent students from needing to go out of district for these services, which would end up costing the district more.
The two House Coordinators at the Middle School are analogous to two assistant principals, one for grades 5 & 6, and the other for grades 7 & 8. The separation of these two groups is essential in our middle school model, and was recognized as very innovative in this state when the Middle School first opened in 1972 - it was one of the first middle schools.
As a member of the Newburyport School Committee I look forward to opportunities to increase the value of public education in Newburyport, so that it is a win-win for all involved, the children and the community. I am thankful to the citizens of Newburyport who have supported improvements to our schools. And yes, there is still work to be done, and personally, I want to be a part of that.
Vice Chairman, Newburyport School Committee
(Editor’s note: A longer version of this post can be found on Around the North Shore Blog.)