Officials Align on Policies

Members of the Old Rochester Regional Joint School Committee on Thursday night laid the groundwork for updates to its best practices policy via the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, as well as to its Professional Development Plan and administrative contracts.

Christine Winters of the policy subcommittee gave officials a glimpse of the work ahead, as the coming months could require a “policy by policy” review by the ORR Joint School Committee starting as early as its June 13 meeting.

“It’s a major undertaking,” Winters said, “but it’s something we need to do.”

Sharon Hartley, chair of the Massachusetts Superintendecy Union No. 55, expressed some reservations given the policies’ volume and format. All review will be done on hardcopy during a compressed time period.

“I’m concerned about individual members’ time,” Hartley said.

Winters said that there remains the possibility that members may receive only drafts of policies that are put forth for revision, cutting down on the time commitment.

Elsewhere on the Committee’s agenda, members voted to approve Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Elise Frangos’ Professional Development plan, delineating teachers’ areas of academic focus, lesson plans, and in-class methodologies. Science and data literacy, in addition to student writing skills, are chief among the districts’ priorities, Frangos said. Educators will gather for a two-day workshop to get up to speed on evolving curricular approaches, although Frangos said that “two days is almost a misnomer, because it’s constantly happening.”

Next, Winters and Superintendent Doug White presented the Committee with an overview of revised administrative contracts addressing vacation, long-term disability, and sick leave policies for non-union central office employees. Winters said that legal counsel had reviewed the documents, and members approved the agreement language.

Also approved were strategic planning dates for Fiscal Year 2014: Sept. 12, Nov. 14, Jan. 9, March 13, and May 5.

White provided information on the process for the Superintendent’s Evaluation, causing some members to wonder whether they could gather in Executive Session without White in attendance to discuss the subject. According to Massachusetts General Law, however, they must do so in public, with the superintendent present.

The Committee was notified of grants awarded throughout the districts: During the 2012-2013 school year, officials reported that Marion Public Schools received $210,927; Mattapoisett, $391,431; Rochester Public Schools, $262,499; ORR, $599,922.

Finally, Thursday marked the final ORR Joint School Committee meeting for Brad Gordon and Tom Shire, both of whom are stepping down. Hartley called the members “wise and strong individuals.” Gordon spoke of his appreciation for working among “different perspectives, different downs, and different interests.”

By Shawn Badgley

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