School committee sets goals for superintendent's next school year
The All-Island School Committee (AISC) set next year's goals for superintendent of schools James Weiss and discussed proposed school policies at its last meeting of the school year, held Monday night at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS).
The process began when Mr. Weiss provided a list of 10 goals for the 2009-10 school year to the AISC last month. Monday, AISC chairman Dan Cabot of West Tisbury suggested that the committee whittle the list down to a doable number, such as five or six.
Mr. Weiss said that many of the goals, whether they are on the list of priorities or not, are just part of what he does in his job anyway. However, he added, "I just want to reiterate that in addition to measuring my success, the goals we put out send a message to the public and staff."
Irrespective of the final number, the AISC agreed that four goals took top priority: developing the six Island schools' education budgets for fiscal year 2011; continuing to implement curricular and instructional initiatives; working on cost-savings strategies in the schools; and coordinating contract negotiations with the school system's five bargaining units.
"There's no debate about the budget goals," said committee member Susan Parker of Chilmark. "But I also think number 10 is important - continue our efforts at recruiting and retaining capable staff. It all boils down to who is in the classroom with the kids. We can't lose sight of that goal."
After taking a straw vote, the committee members agreed to make the four economic goals the superintendent's priority goals, and to keep the other six goals on the list as important. The vote was 9 to 1, with Jeffrey "Skip" Manter of West Tisbury opposed.
In an update on the superintendent's office building, Mr. Weiss said there currently are two viable options. One would be moving his staff to offices to the old Edgartown School, in a shared arrangement with the Martha's Vineyard Center for the Arts, which would use the theatre and some classrooms. Edgartown will vote on the proposal at a special town meeting on June 18.
The second option would be to build a new building at the high school. However, a plan at the high school cannot move forward until the wastewater issue there is resolved.
Mr. Manter said he thinks Mr. Weiss's efforts should be focused on a new building at the high school. "A $40 million-plus operation needs a facility designed and built for that operation, he said. "It also would be more practical having it on the grounds of an educational facility."
A proposed student travel policy prompted some discussion and comment.
As Mr. Weiss reiterated, the new policy does away with different types of student travel. Instead, the AISC would approve trips and assume some liability, and oversee and handle funds. The policy also requires that school nurses receive prior notice of student travel in order to take care of health issues.