Lawn Ave.  SIT notes

November 29, 2005

(back to Lawn Sit)

November 29, 2005 Lawn Ave SIT (Special)

Topic: Configuration of 7 th and 8 th Grade classes for future years (06-07)

Special LAWN AVE SIT Meeting arranged by Paul McDermott SIT Chairperson and Lawn, SIT committee members.

Superintendent Kathy Sipala started discussions. The following is from Kathy.

Suggested Path for discussion:

  1. Working today, November 29 th at this specially called meeting, on a statement explaining the mission intended for the 7 th and 8 th grade Configuration:

Facts to Consider

It would help to say, when going to Budget/Town Council, that you need to know where we are going. A one-year plan may not be an avenue the Town Council would hold on to as being viable when looking at budgeting and/or conditions of the town. A plan of action that will span over the years supporting our mission to meet the needs. *Council would be likely to support an awkward few years to support a plan of action that works and is consistent.

Newport Daily News article for 11/28/05 Part 1

•  Discussion of teachers' working positions, student population/ grade levels numbers, and the budget constraints present. The number of teachers to teach a smaller number in student population needs be reseasonable/understandable to public and Jamestown School programs.

Part 2 in the Newport Daily News series will be on Wednesday, 11/30/05 Part 3 will be in later in the week.

Administration will be discussed in the article as was discussed with Ms. Sipala and newspaper. Mrs. Sipala will not suggest a principal ship for the leadership of Lawn Ave School. She still believes that is the way to go, however she just isn't pushing for it this year. Because of the present student population situation and the number of teachers employed, this possible new position is being put off.

Discussion follows by parents of students in 7 and 8 th grade, community members, future parents of kids who will be going to Middle School, school committee member, some attending teachers and Lawn Ave. SIT committee members.

7 th and 8 th grade configuration plans will be presented to School Committee, Thursday, Dec. 1.

•  Explained by 7 th grade teacher, Nick Alfred and supported by Christine Bernardo and Bruce Engelhard.

•  The 7 th and 8 th grade Core Teachers were looking to keep 8 core teachers for 7 th and 8.

•  They would have 3 teachers teaching 3 seventh grade and for the fourth period that teacher would be off team, giving instruction, completing school tasks or chairing a new area of exploration for students so as to enhance the middle school program. It might be possible to have that fourth period of the day, taught by the 7 th or 8 th grade teacher would be working with another level teaching/working/integrating a unit.

•  Integrated Unit: Mini Course Academic Extension 4 quarter long classes At teachers discretion to work with what they feel enriched in and willing to offer this extension. Tech Ed., sewing, workshop, and other enrichment, Yearbook .

•  No changes to the building or teaching staff or after school class.

•  Advanced Placement Program:

With the time available, an additional teaching period could be given to top tier of children who can go faster/further/above levels or those “in need” in specific areas such as Spanish to meet the needs of what's to come at High School level. More math could be given to those in need.

•  Problem solving is an area that is weak according to testing results. Reading in the Content area is another area.

•  Could we work on those areas of the curriculum where our students have been identified as not improving or high performing?

•  Student skills improvement

•  History: to do reading of books, documents, etc, and getting the most important idea for the paragraph.

•  Key point is to offer something that we don't offer right now.

•  Writing skills need to be worked on

•  Send off kids into other areas and that we have come to know as weaker skills and/or become successful.

•  Maybe get an advisory club working on the fifth period to complete the teacher's day.

How do we take 3 or 4 teachers and maintain and promote program of 7 th and 8 th graders?

Keep the team integrity

Avoid the teachers Running flat out due to too much to teach and larger classroom number of students because we are going to 3 teachers.

There is an Advantage to having a 4/4 model

3 teachers at one level and four at another model

Having teachers in the 7 th and 8 th grade area would provide three in the special area and one in another area and one in an advisory program .

Three teachers, they are not able to get that time to do what is additional.

Possibly take over a class to relieve the pressure for the teaching load of the 5 th & 6 th grades.

How to get what we know to be the best!

Maybe we could negotiate and give something to get what we want. Or maybe we can get more by having the time to get more.

Would we be losing quality if we went down to 3 teachers or would we be gaining something in return from the SC or town council?

Should we try as a committee?

Work on a 5 year plan using the numbers of kids as a focus to arranging a program that will roll with the numbers. Or, should we take this as a Golden opportunity to get what we want/need.

SIT needs to come up with a plan…not just this year.

Plan has to allow for modification and flexibility every year.

Come up with a joint plan including kids, teachers, SIT, school committee and Town Council.

Possiblity: Tuition student in as a possibility.

Note: School committee has investigated this possibility. There are some legal questions asked of the SC lawyer. SC has investigated how to raise the number of kids to keep the programs and warrant the keeping of staff. . Also, would this bring in enough kids to make it worthwhile? Would it bring in 30 or 6?

Building and expanding the school we are in may make some sense however the population of kids will be stabilized in a few years and then why would we need this adjustment.

What We know?

4-person model is putting the question of need and money.

3-person model would be more cost efficient with numbers of children at each level.

It doesn't make sense to drop from 4 to three teachers and up again to 4 then down to 2 teachers. It's the program that will be splintered

Consider all the retirements.

What could be added:

Could we add a behavior room so that children in need could be serviced in district; are they being taught here?

Thursday, December 1, 2005 is the School Committee meeting .

It's a workshop.

At the last SC meeting the configuration was discussed and 7th grade teachers presented a plan.

7 th and 8 th grade teachers presented an outstanding plan…the Cadillac of plans.

There are eight other plans that are out there.

It was suggest that we make a list of things that will will suffer if there are three teachers.

SC is looking for a plan that, by some reasonable minds given the enrollment numbers, can work.

How did the dropping 4 teaching positions to three for this school year?

6 th grade configuration for this year was put on teachers. Plans were offered by the teachers and rejected; however the three-teacher model was put on them to make it work.

We need a strength shown with the three-teacher model. 7 th and 8 th grade can't see that much strength. The strength would be meeting programs; more subjects taught, more topics taught, maybe a 5-teacher area. Three/three certification will not work.

Could there be a year of intensive teacher development to meet the demands of the curriculum, or professional growth, or program growth which will merit the keeping of 4 teachers at 7 th and 8 th grade?

SIT Committee looks upon this as an opportunity to maintain specialization and the structure and support and the ability to team.

3 to 4 teacher plan for 7 th grade and 8 th grade teacher. Going from 4 teachers.

It seems too rushed to say plan of going to 3 teachers is going to work for the next three years.

Do we need to give the SC a time or we will meet the demands of organizing the 7 th and 8 th grade.

To have a year, we need to identify an unreasonable amount of variables to address.

Areas of concern that could be addressed.

Typing Skills, Accelerated Math, Low Math grouping, Accelerated Reading, Low Reading.

It was suggested to have the following for the school committee to ponder.

If 4 teachers were kept at each 7 and 8 th .

There would be three instructional groups meaning there wouldn't be 14 kids because of the numbers. It would be three instructional groups with specializing and/or individualizing into the fourth period. This would be 56 split into 3 instructional groups. (18 kids)

Meeting ended at 5:45.

December 1, 2005, SC meeting.