Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

October 5, 2012 Weekly musings:

Posted on: October 5, 2012

by: Stuart Miles

We have now completed all of our Open Houses.  We had our usual incredible attendance, teacher and principal enthusiasm was high, as parents, some with their students, toured our schools.  I know this is a wonderful time for the school communities to showcase the work we are doing and to meet the families we serve.  As enjoyable as these nights are for all of us they do take extra time and energy from all of our staff and theses efforts are greatly appreciated.

I had the opportunity to visit three schools this week specifically to observe classes and programs serving our students with disabilities.  Using our instructional rounds methodology, the JFK, NHS, and Jackson St. principals observed with me what the students were doing and being asked to do.  We focused in on behavioral and academic expectations for students with special needs.  I was able to observe regular education classes where students were in an inclusion setting and separate specialized skill building classes. One focus of my work this year is to observe the current service delivery model and to support growth and improvements where necessary, while closely tracking our SPED finances.  It is a pleasure to engage in this strategic focus along with new Director of Student Services Laurie Farkas and our building principals. School Committee will receive a report on the status of our work at next week Thursday’s evening meeting.

Mark McLaughlin and I met with the Budget and Property subcommittee this week to begin working with the Capital Planning proposal.  Angelo Rota has submitted his recommendations for technology infrastructure and equipment along with our facility requests from Maintenance and Central Services.  We are hopeful to receive additional funds to address needs for our students and teachers that our regular appropriations just cannot cover.

In addition, Angelo and I continued our work building support for our schools through local businesses.  This week we met with Florence Savings Bank VP of marketing Doug Burr to demonstrate the document camera and share performance data of our students.  He was very receptive to our request of technology support.  We will continue making visits to local businesses throughout the fall and will report our final tally of contributions when we have finished.

In ALT, we reviewed our current work with data teams at each building and discussed our work with tiered instruction.  Our last general training occurred two years ago, so I am researching training opportunities for administrators and teachers.  With training over the next two months, we will be able to strengthen and improve our practices district wide.  Finally, we are continuing to plan our support for literacy and reading in the elementary schools and our new funds through the literacy grant will help us to continue to grow in our use of Reader’s Workshop.

Many people are continuing to work on preparations for the October 27th EAT2BHealthy Triathlon.  We currently have 93 people registered for competition and a team of volunteers to help.  The practice running, biking, and swimming sessions are generating a lot of buzz and excitement about the event.  I am glad we are getting all the rain over with so we will have a sunny day for the race in three weeks.

I would like everyone to be aware we are working on a sensitive issue with a student at Bridge Street School who is going through a transgender transition.  The student has a very supportive family who is working closely with the principal and teachers.  The student is intelligent, articulate, and aware of the complexity of the situation.  We will continue to support all of the students and staff as we work through this critical and important time for the student and family.

Finally, the late start proposals.  Next week, our School Committee will vote for one of the three proposals from last month or they will invite me to communicate and vet the two new options mentioned during our discussion.  I will bring the information to the meeting to support our decision-making.

Sincerely,

Brian L. Salzer, Ed.S.

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