I am humbled and honored to be a member of the Newburyport School Committee, and serve as the committee’s vice chair. As a School Committee member, within my relations with the community my primary responsibility is to the children. As an elected official, I have been entrusted by the voters with the responsibility to help provide the best education for the children of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
At this time, as I have in the past, I would like to use the Newburyport Blog to share and communicate issues that are most relevant today, and that I am able to appropriately report on.
I would like to start with a detail that you included in the entry posted March 28th, 2007 “Newburyport, School Override.” Your premise that the schools would only benefit from the override for one year, should it be approved by the City Council to be voted on by the citizens of Newburyport, and pass, is incorrect. Please let me offer an explanation.
To use a recent recorded article, I’ll refer to the article in the Newburyport Daily News on Tuesday, March 27, 2007. At the top of the Newburyport page, A-3 there is an article “High School Proposal eliminates more teachers.” In the article there is a “proposed budget of $21,956,582.” Let’s use that number as a base.
That number results from Dr. Lyons restructuring and school reconfiguration plan, to be voted on by the School Committee on April 2, 2007. It reduces the budget deficit that was above $1.5 million dollars. While reducing expenses, it also creates an opportunity to add value to our schools by reengineering our educational programs to improve student achievement. This process would add value to our school district. It would also add value to the educational tax dollar, by reducing costs and adding value. Value equals quality over cost.
The plan also creates a platform from which to raise student achievement and add more value to the educational dollar within five areas of focus:
A Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum
A Best Practices Literacy Program Grades K through 6
Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking across the curriculum for grades 7 through 12
A Redesigned Math Program for Grades 5 through 9
A Sustainable Technology Program
The first piece of good news is that the Redesigned Math Program is already built in, through the restructuring. It needs to be. As math achievement in grades 5 through 9 needs improvement, now. This is especially evidenced by middle school MCAS scoring.
As a School Committee we have stated our intent to hear the recommended FY ‘08 budget, formally presented. This was completed on Sat. 3/24, at the conclusion of a 51/2 hour meeting, and provides adequate opportunity to invite more public discussion an input during meetings on March 28 & April 2.
Steven P. Cole
Vice Chairman, Newburyport School Committee
(Editor’s Note: Part 1 of a two part post)