School Choice, a state program currently in place at the ORR Junior and Senior High Schools, was discussed as an option at the elementary school level at the Mattapoisett School Committee meeting on Monday evening.
School Choice is a program whereby school districts can vote to allow out-of-town students to attend district schools for an annual fee. The collected fees support the annual school budget. The elementary schools in the state have until May 1 to decide if they will participate in the program for fiscal year 2014.
“Some towns determine what their optimum class size is, and work with that,” said Elise Frangos, Curriculum Director for the district.
A lively discussion regarding ideal class size ensued.
“25 students is what is in the [teacher] contract,” said committee member Gerry Johnson. Johnson said that the ideal would be to keep class size around 20.
“If you look at some of our surrounding communities, they are doing it because they need the revenue … we must look out for our residents’ children first … and class size could be impacted,” said committee member Grace Knox.
Superintendent Doug White provided a handout with every town in Massachusetts which showed participation in the School Choice program. Roughly one half of the towns in the state participated.
Another issue raised was whether the elementary school and the junior and senior high schools could coordinate the effort.
“I would think that if we allow this at the elementary level … what is the opportunity for this child to continue … with teachers they trust … friends they know … to continue to the junior and senior high?” commented Frangos.
In other business, the Committee discussed adding carbon monoxide detectors at both Center School and Old Hammondtown School after a parent asked about the detectors after an incident in Atlanta, GA.
“They are not legally required, but we asked our Facilities Director, Gene Jones, to look into it,” said Superintendent White.
White estimated the cost at Center School, with 21 Carbon Monoxide detectors, to be approximately $970, and at Old Hammondtown School, with 18 detectors, to be $850.
“Why don’t we just have a couple right where the leak might be?” asked committee member Charles Motta. “Put them in the furnace room and in the cafeteria … let’s look at common sense and not put them all over the building.”
In other business, the Committee thanked Eileen Brooks, a retired Center School teacher who held a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Brooks was raised on Long Island, NY.
“We raised and collected over $1,200 … with $1,000 in gift cards so that families could decide what they needed,” said Brooks.
In other news, English as a Second Language specialist Teah Mazzoni addressed the Committee and spoke about the 2016 requirement that all teachers and staff interacting with students whose primary language is not English must receive training.
Mazzoni provided a list of the various languages that students in the Tri-Town speak at home, including Arabic, Ethiopian, Portuguese, Spanish, Indonesian, Chinese, Hindi, Creole and Vietnamese. Special training in working with the students will soon be mandatory so that children of other cultures who speak other languages can assimilate into American culture smoothly.
Center School’s production of ‘Flakes,’ performed by grades one through three, will occur on Thursday, December 20 at 9:30 am. Parents and the community are welcome to attend. The event will be recorded on CD and will be available for purchase by parents or community members for $10 at the event.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry