High school committee plans search for principal
The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) committee voted to accept principal Margaret (Peg) Regan's resignation, effective at the end of the school year, at a meeting Monday night. Several committee members thanked her and expressed regrets about her leaving. Ms. Regan said she is leaving to pursue other interests.
In discussion about finding her replacement, committee chairman Susan Parker of Chilmark asked superintendent of schools James Weiss whether he would recommend using a search firm or an in-house committee. "I would prefer to try it on our own first," Mr. Weiss said, pointing out that the search for a principal for Edgartown School cost about $10,000 to $12,000 for using the services of the New England School Development Council, as well as other costs, such as advertising.
Mr. Weiss said his office would put together an advertisement to run in local and regional newspapers, as well as national educator publications. "I want to get things moving before Thanksgiving," he said.
Mr. Weiss said he will suggest possible candidates to serve on a search committee and will come up with a timeline for the process, which he will present at the next school committee meeting. "A search committee should give me one to three good candidates, which I will consider in a collaborative process with you, but the search committee does not get to vote on a principal," Mr. Weiss said as a reminder.
Regarding another personnel matter, the school committee voted to accept the resignation of Spanish teacher Amy Hewitt, who moved from working part-time as a Spanish teacher at Chilmark School to a full-time position at MVRHS this year. But, "High school just wasn't her thing," Mr. Weiss explained.
In other business, the school committee agreed with Mr. Weiss's recommendation to review the high school's travel policy to update and consolidate rules regarding both international travel and travel within the U.S. Ms. Regan said the timing is especially relevant, because the high school has been offered the opportunity to take over an exchange program from West Tisbury School with Shelley School in northern England.
Assistant superintendent for business affairs Amy Tierney said she has been in discussions with the state Inspector General's office about the best option for the regional high school district to bond and buy new school buses. She said she and Mr. Weiss think the bids received for new buses should be rejected on the basis of the low trade-in value offered by the bidders for the school district's old buses.
In her principal's report, Ms. Regan said data from the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) shows that the high school met its preliminary adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals. According to the DOE's web site, AYP is a measure of the extent to which a student group demonstrates proficiency in English language arts and mathematics.
AYP reports are issued each year and show the progress schools and districts are making toward the goal of having all students reach proficiency by the year 2014, in accordance with the No Child Left Behind law. With new Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests added for biology and history, Ms. Regan said the high school's curriculum is focused on reading.
Parent-teacher conferences, which will begin on Oct. 22, can be scheduled online, Ms. Regan said. She also reported that the school council recently discussed the school's dress code and the policies for student travel and student driving for on-Island trips.
The new driver's classroom education course offered this year is off to a good start, with teacher John Stabile, Ms. Regan added. Mr. Stabile also is exploring the possibility of adding on-the-road driver's instruction to the program. Ms. Regan said Joe and Natalie Thibodeau, who own Vineyard Auto School and currently offer the only behind-the-wheel instruction on the Island, told her they do not plan to renew their licensing next June.
In a follow-up to a complaint received last spring about the high school's wind turbine, Ms. Regan said she received another one from residents in the nearby Deer Run neighborhood. The homeowners said they are bothered by the wind turbine's "eerie and continuous hum," Ms. Regan explained, and they would like it removed or at least turned off at night.
Although several residents complained last spring about the wind turbine's visual impact, they subsequently asked the school committee to cancel a scheduled site visit. The school committee agreed to reschedule a site visit soon, preferably on a windy day before dark.
Regarding subcommittees, Ms. Regan announced that the budget subcommittee will hold meetings at 6 pm, Oct. 10; 8 am, Oct. 25; 6 pm, Nov. 5; 8 am, Nov. 14; and 6 pm, Nov. 27.
Student council secretary Max Nunes reported that Friday evening's MVRHS football game with Hull will be shown on a "high school game of the week" segment during NBC's Sunday Night Football television broadcast at half-time on Oct. 7.
Regarding student activities this month, Mr. Nunes said the high school will hold an assembly to view the movie "Stolen Childhood," a documentary feature film about child laborers around the world.
The film was produced by Galen Films, a full-service video and film production company located on Martha's Vineyard jointly owned by Len and Georgia Morris. Ms. Regan said the couple plans to attend the screening and talk to students about the making of the film and non-profit organizations that have been set up to help child laborers get back into school. The assembly will be held either Oct. 10 or 15, depending on the Morrises' schedule.