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Upton Sinclair

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The Wind in the Willows

Andrea Downs, Chairman, Region 1 Board of Education

Subject: March 6th BOE meeting

Dear Parents and Students,

I am writing to you today as the Chair of the Region 1 Board of Education. I think it is important to share some thoughts and procedural issues with all of you prior to our monthly business meeting on March 6th, 2017.

The BOE is educating themselves about the many concerns parents, students and staff have in relation to the proposed schedule changes for the 2017/2018 school year. We were not at the meeting on February 23rd because it was a parent meeting and not a board meeting. The link to the video has been sent to all of us for our review. Each of us has also spoken to a number of parents, students and staff on a one on one basis and we will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, it would appear that a lot of misinformation was disseminated throughout our broader community in a way that is causing all stakeholders to feel fearful and anxious about this change. We can understand this when parents and students do not feel that they have all of the information, or if no venue has been proposed in which to ask their questions.

The BOE has been doing a lot of learning over the past year in relation to how we can best improve student outcomes at our school. We believe that our role is to gather the data and then through budget, policy, and professional development support the needs of the administration and the staff to implement the programs needed to improve such outcomes.

The BOE with the administration has identified some significant concerns that affect all of our children. We know that there has been a lot of discussion about the D and F data but there has also been discussion about how we best support students who are either our highest achievers or somewhere in the middle. The solution presented to us is a multiprong approach to address what we have identified as concerns. These prongs include: moving towards personalized learning (we are told this takes up to five years with the proper professional development), grading practices (we don’t accept Ds and Fs, we continue to work with students until they master the material), and a change in schedule (our current schedule does not align student and teacher schedules well for additional help).

All of the above initiatives are administrative in scope and although the BOE is supporting our administration through the avenues available to us (policy, budget and professional development), it is not up to the BOE to participate in the daily operations of the school.

We know that many parents are planning to attend the Region One Board meeting on Monday, March 6th. We wanted to let you know ahead of time that we have not placed the schedule change on the agenda and so we will not have public comment on this item. We are not doing this to stonewall any kind of discussion but we feel that it would be premature for us to have this discussion at this time. I understand that there will be a number of opportunities during the month of March for parents and students to have conversations with the building administration. In case any of you did not receive the dates they are listed here.

March 1st – 10th – students sign up for classes

March 1st – School Counselors meet with students during PLP to discuss class sign ups

After March 10th – Dr. Vogel, Dr. Martinez and School Counselors will meet with a group of students to prepare mock schedules in both formats so that a comparison can be made.

March 21st, 6pm – Parent Partnership meeting, The Master schedule has been added to the agenda of this meeting for discussion.

Various dates to be announced – Small group meetings will be held by building administrators with both students and parents to further discuss concerns related to the proposed schedule change.

The Administration will be placing current research articles and videos related to these topics on the Region 1 Facebook page and the Region 1 website home page, and we encourage students, parents, and community members to visit these sites to gain better knowledge of what is taking place in New England schools today.

I would encourage all of you to continue to be engaged in the education of our students. We will support them all better if we do it together.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrea L. Downs

Chair, Region 1 Board of Education

adowns@region1schools.org

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