All-Island School Committee approves superintendent’s goals

Superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Schools James Weiss attended the 2011 graduation. — Photo by Susan Safford

The All-Island School Committee (AISC) accepted four goals set by Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) superintendent of schools James Weiss, approved the recommendation of a secretaries’ study group, and revised an animals in school policy at a meeting June 9.

The AISC discussed goals Mr. Weiss suggested for himself for the 2011-2012 school year at a meeting last month. He and the school cabinet then narrowed the list to four.

Mr. Weiss said he plans to work with the cabinet to move towards a standards-based education process; continue to work with school committees and administrators to develop six education budgets that reflect the true needs of schools; conduct a feasibility study for a new superintendent’s office facility and propose a replacement to the AISC by May 2012; and continue efforts to reach out and work collaboratively with Island leaders to solve the Vineyard’s financial and political challenges.

Several committee members were concerned about an initiative under Mr. Weiss’s curriculum and instruction goal, which stated he would “foster a data-driven school culture in all Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS)”; that it would impact school culture negatively.

“I’m not hung up on the words,” Mr. Weiss said. “What I’m trying to say is teachers make decisions every minute of every day, and I want them to be able to make those decisions with every piece of data they can have.”

The AISC voted to accept Mr. Weiss’s goals with the initiative’s wording amended.

In other business, Mr. Weiss reported the results of a secretaries’ study group, which included himself, school business administrator Amy Tierney, AISC members Susan Mercier and Colleen McAndrews, and secretaries Linda Handy and Michelle Ben David.

A three-year collective bargaining agreement ratified by secretaries and the AISC in January included a side letter. It stipulated a study committee would look at unresolved issues about how secretaries are paid and make a recommendation.

None of the secretaries work a 40-hour week. Although they technically are hourly workers, their accrual and use of benefit time has been figured in the same way as salaried workers, which led to confusion.

The study group concluded that in order to resolve the issues, secretaries in each school or department would be given three options for summer work hours, totaling 20 hours per week. The options include four five-hour days, five four-hour days, or two seven-hour days and one six-hour day.

The study group recommended that during the 20-hour work weeks, a day earned or a day used would be counted as a day in terms of accrual and use of benefit time, regardless of the number of hours actually worked.

In other business, AISC members approved a second reading of a revised animals in school policy. The policy must undergo a third reading before approval to adopt it.

As is customary at the school year’s end, the committee reorganized and voted in a new chairman, Susan Mercier of Edgartown, and a new vice chairman, David Rossi of Edgartown.