Yes to Additional Teacher, Yes to PARCC

Mattapoisett School Committee members are celebrating the approval of an additional second grade teacher at Center School after receiving the go-ahead from the Town to hire a new teacher and pay for the health insurance with extra funds left over from the school fiscal 2014 budget.

The position will be for one year only, in order to alleviate the larger-sized first-grade classes transitioning into the second grade, which currently has just three teachers.

After Superintendent Doug White’s announcement that the town administrator agreed to the position as long as the Town did not have to contribute to the new hire’s health insurance, the committee eagerly approved the position on June 9.

“A celebration is in order I think,” said Chairman James Higgins.

Higgins had been advocating for an additional second grade teacher for months as the committee formulated its FY15 budget with hope that there would be room for another teacher.

“Thank God,” Principal Rose Bowman silently mouthed to some teachers in attendance across the room.

Also during the meeting, it is three down and one to go for individual Tri-Town districts adopting the new online PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) assessment, doing away with the old pencil and paper MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System).

White repeated the same PARCC presentation that he had given twice before to the two other towns, and which he will also present to the Old Rochester Regional District School Committee later in the week.

Students at Old Hammondtown took a pilot pen and pencil version of PARCC, and White said, although it was not the online version, students had some positive feedback pertaining to the style of and questions asked on the test.

Associate Principal Charles Egan said the shorter testing time took some of the pressure off of the students, since the MCAS testing is an all-day event, while PARCC has a much shorter testing time.

If students take PARCC instead of MCAS in 2015, not only will students get used to taking the exam online, but the results will also not count against the school should the results of the tests be less than favorable.

“PARCC could end up not being the assessment (in 2016),” said White, “but it will be a ‘next generation’ type assessment.”

The State has given local school committees the authority to choose which test to use, but there cannot be a combination of the two. It is either PARCC, or MCAS and, by 2016, MCAS will disappear and another online assessment, yet to be determined, will take its place.

In other news, committee member James Muse said a parent approached him over concerns that the Center School playground is not fenced-in, and Muse thought the committee should take action to fence it in.

Facilities Director Gene Jones said the playground was in compliance with State regulations, since the playground equipment area did not abut a public way or waterway.

“It’s a free-flowing thing,” said Higgins. “It never felt like an unsafe place to be.” He added, “We should proceed pretty slowly … I kind of like the way it looks there.”

In the end, the committee decided to investigate the possibility of installing a fence, but Higgins emphasized that it was not an approval of the fence, just an approval to investigate.

White announced the new associate principal for Mattapoisett – Old Hammondtown fourth-grade teacher Kevin Tavares – will assume the position as of the next school year. Bowman will remain Head Principal, and the two will float between the two elementary schools.

In other business, the committee approved the School Improvement Plan, as well as Assistant Superintendent Dr. Elise Frangos’ Professional Development Plan.

This was the final School Committee meeting of the school year.

By Jean Perry


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