Barlett High School senior Thomas James (left) is Superintendent Barbara Malkas's nominee for the Worcester County Superintendents' Association scholarship.
Development programs for MS teachers,
breathalyzer tests for HS students
By Becky Harvey
Webster - The Webster School Committee met Tuesday night during the light flurries of snow that crossed the state. Despite the weather, the entire committee was present. The evening kicked off with a presentation by Middle School Principal Jennifer Lundwall. She outlined the new program in which fifty of her teachers are participating.
The program is designed to help teachers better observe other teachers, “through learning walks,” and to help them defend their own lesson planning. Ms. Lundwall said she has observed a great amount of growth in the teachers who had participated.
Another aspect of the program that the teachers are incorporating allows them to assess students solely on their progress as it aligns to the standards, unaffected by a student’s performance on homework and classwork completion.
This way of grading lets the parents get a much clearer view of how their child is progressing through the milestones for their grade. Ms. Lundwall expects that by the end of the school year, all middle school teachers will have had the chance to participate in the program.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas was pleased to announce her nominee, Thomas James, for the Worcester County Superintendents’ Association scholarship. He is ranked number one in his class at Bartlett High School. He is an avid athlete, NEASC student representative, super-team winner and St. Louis Church lector. After a glowing introduction by the superintendent, James made a brief thank you speech for all the support he has received over the years. In a “break from tradition” a round of applause was allowed.
Breathalizer tests for students
In the continuing effort to rid the schools of problems tied to under-age consumption of alcohol on school property, School Committee chairman Michael Makara reintroduced the pending policy prohibiting alcohol use and allowing Evidential Breath Tests (EBTs, commonly called “Breathalyzer Tests”). Principal Steven Knowlton explained that he has brought and shown these testing devices to students at his past schools. He believes that showing the students that the tests are available to teachers and chaperones is a great deterrent for underage drinking in school and at school-sponsored functions. According to him, the need for use of these tests would be rare, especially with the police presence that is often noticeable at school functions and even within the schools themselves. The superintendent stated that there has been “overwhelming support” of this newly proposed policy.
Though the ideas behind the policy seemed to have the complete support of the committee, there were some questions as to its language. Committee member Shawn Collins questioned both the wording of the policy and also the school’s ability to enforce rules with guests of students at off-school functions. Member Martina Gorski-Strong wondered what would result from a situation that might arise where a student would be tested but found to not be under the influence. Principal Knowlton assured her that the school would be proactive in contacting parents and guardians regardless of the outcomes. The committee requires three separate readings of a policy before it is voted upon. This policy will be reviewed at lease once more prior to any vote on it.
The final fiscal year 2012 budget was reviewed, along with a comparison to the two years prior. The town has laid off a total of twenty positions, a “brutal” situation for the education department. Many departments, including para-professionals, instructional coaching and custodial, took “big hits.” One notable addition was that of the “much needed” Curriculum Director. Monies for this position were acquired by the reduction of other positions. “The bad news is FY12 was a bad year;the good news is that it is over,” stated Ted Avlas, the Assistant to the Superintendent for Business. According to him, the years ahead will be challenging. FY13 is off to a difficult start, but expectations are high that things will work out. Collins thanked Avlas for his work and gave accolades for managing to come in under budget, despite all the bumps in the road.
- Friday, 30 November 2012
- Posted in Categories: : News