School Committee Notebook for March 19 Meeting

School Committee discusses No Child Left Behind changes.

  • The varsity boys basketball team was honored at Monday night’s School Committee meeting. This was the first season they achieved a 10 game streak, and this was the first time the boys played in an outright championship since 1988. This was also the first time they won a Tri-Valley League title. Not only were they recognized for their accomplishments on the court, but in their general character as well.
  • Math Department Head Mary Taylor and students Hannah Lavendier, Joe DeLorenzo and Tyler Durocher spoke about how two teams from Norton High competed in Moody's Mega Math Challenge on March 4. They had 14 hours to answer an open ended math question about high speed rail lines and their impact on the country. They will find out in April if either of the teams are finalists and eligible to win scholarship money.
  • Two students in Norton’s DECA program, Evan DaSilva and Caleb Tripp competed in a State Career Development Conference March 8 through 10. Dasilva and Tripp were the first students to go to the conference since 2009. DaSilva ran for the city officer position and was elected with the most votes ever received in Massachusetts DECA history. Caleb competed in two tests and two role plays in the accounting category. They take the overall score and the top four make it to nationals. Caleb came in third. He also placed second in the business finance test. The School Committee approved the two to go to Salt Lake City for the International Conference April 27- May 3.
  • New biology books were approved for classes at Norton High School. The AP books are $147 apiece and come with a six-year e-text version. For Levels 1 and 2 a book costing $84 was requested which comes with a six-year e-text version. Honors books will remain the same.
  • Tanya Benoit of the Science Department informed the Committee that Norton has received a $5,000 Biotech Award Grant. Norton High School was named as the sole Innovative School of the Yea in Massachusetts. The Department will be honored at a luncheon. Student Council member Kady Ferguson, teachers Jason Henry, Paula Bishong and Benoit along with Superintendent Dr. Patricia Ansay will attend.
  • A handful of states applied for the No Child Left Behind Act Waiver, and Massachusetts was one of six granted in the first round. The waiver gives leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students. Some changes include the ability to transfer all funding from federal grants to Title 1 if desired; requiring reduction of professional gaps by half by 2016-2017 instead of 100% of gaps by 2013; measurable objectives based on MCAS, progress and performance, closing gaps, percent of warning and failing, dropout rates and graduation rates; a 10th subgroup that includes high needs with a minimum of 30 students; classification of schools based on new progress and performance index; and up to 25 percent of Title 1 grant for districts in level 2 to 5 used to support district students needs as assessed in relation to conditions for school effectiveness.
  • Out of the $22.5M budget, $12.9M has been spent and $9M is encumbered. That leaves about $387,000 left that has not yet been reserved or spent. Barry Nectow, director of operations and finance at Norton Public Schools, said he expects to come in less than the budget. The mild weather is a big contributing factor, but the year is not over yet. Items that must be watched include tuition, transportation, custodial and maintenance. A plan will be put in place so that the schools do not have to keep repairing failing kitchen equipment.
  • Out of 28 applicants, the Superintendent Search Committee has narrowed down their choices to eight. The last two interviews will be held Wednesday, March 21, and finalists will be brought before the School Committee March 26.
  • Also on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at Norton High School, the Norton Police Department in partnership with the Norton School system will be sponsoring "Don’t Be Blindsided,” a drug awareness presentation especially designed for parents. Parents of middle school and high school students are strongly encouraged to attend.


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