WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Committee on Thursday OK'd a District Improvement Plan and a set of goals for the newly expanded district's superintendent.
The latter administrative document, the Superintendent Goals, are part of the standard against which the committee will evaluate Superintendent Kimberley Grady's performance.
Ideally, the document would have been approved some months ago, but it was delayed by the fact that the School Committee only was constituted for the first time after the November election. At that time, the newly elected seven-member committee took control of the district from an interim Transition Committee that governed the two-town district since Jan. 1, when it fully regionalized to PreK-12 following a November 2017 vote.
The committee held a special meeting just to approve the goals and improvement plan, adding to a meeting calendar that already sees the body assembling on Dec. 13 for its regular monthly meeting.
Grady explained the goals document and District Improvement Plan as mirroring, in part, the School Improvement Plans developed by the district's three principals and previously presented to the School Committee.
"The key action steps are outlined as well as my benchmarks," Grady said of the Superintendent Goals document. "The benchmarks are things I'll be producing for you."
Committee member Al Terranova, one of the four members of the seven-person panel to attend the special meeting, questioned whether the committee should be approving the documents with just a bare quorum present.
Vice Chairwoman Regina DiLego, who ran the meeting in place of absent Chairman Joe Bergeron, pointed out that all seven members received the documents in advance of the meeting and had the opportunity to express their concerns to the chair or Grady before the vote.
"The purpose of tonight's meeting was to go through the goals to get them approved and not tie up the whole regular meeting next Thursday," DiLego said.
Dan Caplinger agreed.
"I feel like this process has been pushed back further than is ideal for us and the superintendent," Caplinger said. "The superintendent has a job to do as we define it through these goals. The longer we delay it, the longer she has to do her job without the guidance we're responsible to provide.
"I'd ask the acting chair and superintendent if anyone has expressed thoughts in advance of the meeting … Hearing none, I'd be comfortable reviewing them and voting on them."
Grady outlined three broad sets of goals: "Develop a variety of district plans as a result of regionalization, to assure the district is aligning vertically and horizontally to meet the needs of all students Prek-12-plus;" "By June 2019, will have focused activities for faculty, students and families aligned to Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to increase positive relationships with families and members of the community at all three districts;" and "Using the new MCAS accountability system data will work with building Principals and Director of Pupil Services to engage faculty/staff, students and families, so that we have implemented action steps for students target areas not meeting target."
Each of the goals comes with a set of actions that Grady will need to document, like the creation of a Strategic Planning Steering Committee, providing professional development opportunities for teachers related to the ESSA and presenting "fiscally sound budgets that support all children's needs."
The School Committee will delve into the fiscal 2020 budget process in earnest starting in January, but Thursday's discussion of the District Improvement Plan touched on a couple of issues that likely will impact the budget.
"On the curriculum alignment goal … is it part of the plan to fill the curriculum coordinator position?" Caplinger asked Grady. "My understanding is it was [on the district's organizational chart] because there's a job description for it, but there's been a job description there for the last couple of years and it was unfilled. Is it time to fill it?"
"Absolutely," Grady replied. "We're going to bring the proposed regional positions to you before we begin the budget process."
In other business on Thursday, Grady introduced to the School Committee the members of the district's new Parent Advisory Council. With parents from each of the district's three schools, the new regional council takes the place of the old councils at Mount Greylock, Lanesborough Elementary and Williamstown Elementary.
"They play a big role with regard to special education programming in the region as well as providing input in the budget process," Grady said.
The Mount Greylock PAC's president, Amy Hane, is a parent at the middle-high school and a former president and vice president of the PAC at Williamstown Elementary.
"The PAC is formed per state mandate to serve as an advisory board to the School Committee," Hane told the committee. "We will update you and let you know how things are going. At budget time, we will spend time looking at the budgets related to students with special needs. We will be keeping a finger on the pulse of all three schools regarding how service delivery is going.
"It's a bigger endeavor to go from one school to a regional district, but I think we have formed a great committee and we're up to the challenge."
Hane is joined by three other parents from Mount Greylock, three from Williamstown Elementary and one from Lanesborough Elementary.
Grady also used Thursday's special meeting to update the School Committee on the progress forming another committee, the one that will help develop the expanded district's initial strategic plan. She said that group will start meeting in January with plans to roll out a plan that the School Committee can approve in September.
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