A Diverse Education Agenda

School choice led the eclectic list of items to be addressed by the Old Rochester Regional Joint School Committee on Wednesday, April 10.

Superintendent Doug White explained the current status of the program. There are 75 slots presently between the junior and senior high schools. Since ORR hasn’t been participating in school choice long enough for the number of incoming students to match the number of graduating students, it was decided that the District would continue in the program but not add any additional slots for the 2013-14 school year. When asked about the financial incentive of being in the program, White stated that the school receives $5,000 per student for a total of approximately $390,000 per year. With some students’ of choice needing special services, the grant per student wasn’t always equable. But he said it wasn’t a burden either. He did share that the state is looking to increasing the per student incentive.

Another highlight of the meeting centered on Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos’ report of new guidelines on issues relating to gender identification dysphoria. In a first of its kind conference that she had attended, she learned about anti-discrimination rules, as well as locker room and restroom concerns and considerations for student with gender dysphoria. Educators will need to become more sensitized to this population and their specific needs will need to be addressed.

Frangos’ report also included results of a survey taken by teachers on needs assessment for professional development. Of the 450 e-mail addresses used to send out the five-question survey, her office received a total of 96 responses – 36 from secondary teachers – which she indicated was about average for statistical evaluation purposes. However, the committee wondered what could be gleaned from the limited number of responses. She assured them that one could at the very least have a starting point to work from for reviewing the educators’ professional growth needs.

ORR High Principal Michael Devoll next spoke at length about the Advanced Placement science needs facing the schools. He said that increasingly students are asking for AP science classes to help them compete for college placement. In the absence of more AP classes ORR graduates were at an extreme disadvantage. It was pointed out that the academic challenges innate in AP science programs demonstrated a student’s ability to not only achieve high grades but a well-rounded personality able to integrate self-motivation with high personal goals and standards. Devoll said there was a need to increase the number of AP science classes at both the junior and senior high levels to meet the rigors of college placement applications. The committee agreed and plans will move forward.

State budgets were also discussed with White telling the committee that the Leglislature had been discussing deep education cuts requiring some difficult choices that White acknowledged could be confronted soon. Although the state may not move forward with such wounding funding cuts, he did tell the group to prepare for the worse.

Before the members got down to the business of running the district, they were entertained by members of Destination Imagination. This afterschool program that draws from Tri-Town talent is coached by Tina Rood of Rochester.

After Rood set up what the group was about to experience from the students, the players sailed into their nonverbal performance. Destination Imagination is a program that encourages teams to take risks, focus collective energy, and meet the challenges of collaborative problem solving and team dynamics. The program aligns the work needed to complete a task with STEM, National Education Standards, and ELA Common Core. Rood’s team is heading to the global competition in Nashville, Tenn., in May.

With congratulations and well wishes from the committee, the students were acknowledged for their hard work, commitment, and abilities.

ORR JHS Principal Kevin Brogioli shared that 39 eighth-grade students will be inducted into the National Junior Honor Society. He also spoke to an assembly the students participated in on the subject of Social Media and Sexting given by the Mattapoisett Police Department.

And rounding out the agenda’s highlights was Devoll’s noting of an upcoming College Admissions Seminar for parents of sophomore and junior students hosted by the Guidance Department. The seminar will be April 25 at 6:30pm in the high school’s Media Room. A guest speaker from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority will be on hand to discuss the college search and application process.

By Marilou Newell

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