School news roundup: Boost in state funding, superintendent priorities, tech update and more

Southborough Wicked Local covered the recent school committee meetings for the town and district. Here are excerpts from their recent stories.

This morning’s story focuses on our new superintendent’s goals. But it tacks on news of a projected increase of about $200,000 in reimbursement from the state for regional busing.

Southborough/Northborough schools chief presents her to-do list – September 18, 2014

At a combined meeting, new Superintendent Christine Johnson presented all three of the Northborough and Southborough school committees with her goals for the year, emphasizing the importance of communication. . .

Included in her plan are ties to the new educator evaluation model mandated by the state last year, which requires teachers and administrators to evaluate their own performances based on student achievement and setting goals.

Johnson said she aims to implement district-determined measures – another state mandate that measures teacher performance; analyze the central office structure to identify areas for improvement, particularly in training practices; be more proactive on social media, including website updates to reach out to the community through the web; and revise the now expired technology plan to define digital literacy in the district.

“Over the last two months, and continuously through this year, it is critical that my conversations take place, new collaborations form and renewal of our commitment to our core values and mission be analyzed and incorporated into all of our practices,” Johnson said. . .

The Regional School Committee also met on Wednesday, hearing good news for the transportation budget.

Under Gov. Deval Patrick’s fiscal year 2015 budget, Johnson said the state will fund regional transportation at 90 percent, meaning a substantial shift in costs from the district. (read more)

An earlier story focuses on the Technology Update at last week’s Southborough School Committee meeting. But it caps off with general news highlights from administrators: 

iPads for all in grade 4 – September 12, 2014

[Technology Director Jean]Tower said, teachers have spent about 10 professional development days focusing on technology-based education over the past two years.”

The reception we’re creating at Neary will help us drive what we’re doing in other places,” Tower told the School Committee Wednesday. . .

Tower said Wednesday that it hasn’t been determined whether the district will set a 1:1 ratio for iPads in kindergarten through grade 3.

The challenge now, said Nothborough-Southborough Superintendent Christine Johnson, is to craft a district-wide technology curriculum that moves beyond hardware and addresses what particular skills students need to learn. That process is expected to start next month and take the next three years. . .

Also at the Sept. 10 meeting:
* Superintendent Christine Johnson said the ALICE school lockdown procedure, which was introduced at the high school and middle schools last year, will be put in place in kindergarten through grade 5 this year. She said the district will communicate as much as possible with parents to let them know what to expect. Grade 6-12 schools will continue to hold ALICE lockdown drills, two per building this year.

* Southborough’s school principals reported that the first day of school, Aug. 28, went smoothly. Kathleen Valenti, the new principal of Neary School, said she has been “amazed” at the number of parents who attended the school’s ice cream social and who volunteer to help the school.

* Principal James Randell said the new outdoor classroom at Woodward School, funded by the Southborough Education Foundation, looks “beautiful” and should be complete in a matter of weeks. (read more)

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