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Framingham School Committee Prioritizes Focus Areas For The New 2020-2021 Term
Framingham Public Schools
Robert A. Tremblay, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools
Adam Freudberg, Chair, Framingham School Committee
Rochelle Santos, Media & Communications Manager
Framingham Public Schools
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/29/20
FRAMINGHAM SCHOOL COMMITTEE PRIORITIZES FOCUS AREAS FOR THE NEW 2020-2021 TERM
New and enhanced subcommittees to focus on Health & Wellness; Equity, Inclusion & Diversity; and Climate Change, Environment & Sustainability
Framingham, MA – Tonight the Framingham School Committee voted in favor of numerous focus areas to guide their work throughout the new term. By accepting the recommendations drafted by the Rules & Administration Subcommittee, the School Committee has now adopted a structure for subcommittees, liaisons, reporting requirements from FPS, and a long-term agenda for 2020. With a focus on increased reporting, transparency, accessibility, efficiency, collaboration, and online resources, the Rules and Administration Subcommittee was reestablished on January 2, 2020 to make recommendations for the committee’s meeting schedule, agenda framework, organizations for liaisons, subcommittees, professional development, and standards for written reports from FPS.
“The role of the School Committee is primarily focused on the budget, policies, and working with and evaluating the Superintendent. Yet there are other matters of great importance on which we wish to focus our time in order to pursue continuous improvements throughout Framingham’s system of education,” said Adam Freudberg, Chair of the School Committee and District 4 Member. “I am proud of the work done by Scott Wadland, Karen Dempsey, Priscila Sousa, and Geoff Epstein to prepare this report for the entire committee to get behind as we launch our new term. Let’s get to work!”
“The biennial review of our Rules and Administration report gives us a great opportunity to reflect on the previous two years and make adjustments so that we are focusing our limited time appropriately,” said Scott Wadland, Lead Convenor and Co-Chair of the Rules and Administration Subcommittee and District 3 Member. “I am pleased that the full School Committee adopted our major recommendations, and I thank my colleagues on the subcommittee for their thoughtful input.”
“I was glad to be part of this process and to provide context to the conversations that were aimed at aligning the efforts of the School Committee with the aspirational goals and organizational structure of the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert A. Tremblay. “The School Committee continues to tighten up processes, paying close attention to policies and the need for reporting to drive our work. Every decision has been framed by what is best for the children in our school community.”
Increased Reporting, Transparency, Accessibility, Efficiencies, and Online Resources
The School Committee has moved to paperless meeting packets. All members now receive the same electronic materials the public has access to on the School Committee’s website, without their own paper copies.
All meeting materials are posted online at least three business days before the meeting, so typically materials are available online the Friday before a Wednesday meeting.
The report reinforced and offered a guide to presentors to ensure that all materials utilized at School Committee meetings need to be readable and accessible to all watching on TV and in the meeting room.
Additionally, the report added a new accessibility posting to be included on all agendas to offer support to anyone who may need assistance. The listing reads, “If you need reasonable accommodations in order to participate in the meeting, contact the FPS Office of Equity, Diversity, and Community Development at 508-782-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the meeting.”
The report also established a Temporary Subcommittee on Data, Transparency, and Website. This group shall work with FPS administration to look into what the needs are in regards to data and reports that the District should provide, what supports to achieve them are needed, what data should be published on the District website, and what information and data should be published on the School Committee specific website with a goal of transparency and more information being easily available to the public. This subcommittee is expected to make recommendations in the near future before dissolving.
Subcommittees for 2020-2021
The report’s approach to subcommittees is that they should reflect the major areas of interest and action for the School Committee. They provide a mechanism for productive, cooperative work with FPS administration and staff which is much easier than would be the case if the entire School Committee had to engage as a body. The subcommittees should be consistent with the principal goals of the School Committee, the Superintendent and the FPS system as a whole. Subcommittees are advisory and will report back and seek full committee action when necessary.
Policy - This subcommittee shall work with the FPS administration to develop and recommend new and revised policies to the full School Committee, and shall be responsible for making sure that our online policy manual is updated. This should remain as a standing subcommittee.
Finance & Operations - This subcommittee shall work, as appropriate, with the FPS administration, the City Council and municipal leadership (including but not limited to the CFO) to develop standardized, comprehensive, timely financial reporting that allows the School Committee to have a complete understanding of the financial performance of the district in all appropriate areas, so it can ensure that the budget is properly managed throughout the financial year. The scope includes budget book reviews, other financial matters, and departments such as transportation and food services.
Buildings & Grounds - This subcommittee shall work with the FPS administration to develop reporting on the state of FPS buildings and grounds, including ongoing maintenance and repairs, develop long-term plans and proposals for building renovations and replacements and to advise the Buildings & Grounds Department on facilities planning, capital projects and related issues. The subcommittee shall also perform a review of Capital Budget requests before they are presented to the full School Committee. Lastly, the subcommittee shall work with the FPS leadership, and, when appropriate with the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals, to evaluate projected student enrollment both at the district level and on a school by school basis based on future residential development, and ensure that both short term and long term plans are developed to ensure that school system capacity meets our student population needs.
Teaching & Learning - This subcommittee shall work with the Office of Teaching and Learning and other FPS administrators as needed to develop and/or refine reporting that addresses various aspects of student outcomes, with a focus on student achievement and accountability. This reporting shall include, but not be limited to: course availability and placement; performance on standardized testing; student attendance; conduct and discipline; and graduation and post-secondary success. This reporting shall include all cohorts of students (e.g. general education, special education, English Learners (ELs), Dual Language learners, gifted and talented (SAGE), etc.).
Equity, Inclusion & Diversity - This subcommittee will seek to develop standardized, comprehensive and timely reporting that allows the School Committee to have a complete understanding of the current equity performance of the district in all appropriate areas, such as curriculum, hiring, policy and professional development so that we can ensure a more balanced and equitable system that will lead us to greater outcomes for ALL students, teachers, administrators, and parents within FPS. It shall also work with the FPS administration to review the output from the equity audit and determine next steps.
Health & Wellness - This subcommittee shall work with FPS administration, staff and student governance and other student organizations, to develop reporting on student and staff physical, social and emotional health and wellness and to make appropriate recommendations to the full School Committee. Areas included in the scope for this subcommittee include, but are not limited to: vaping; alcohol use; smoking; other drug or substance use; nutrition, physical activities- including sports activities of all kinds, including varsity, junior varsity and intramural sports; transportation, including alignment with student schedules; facilities; threats presented by EEE; stressors and stress management; homework loads; alignment of school start times with student biorhythms; absenteeism; classroom environment, etc.
Climate Change, Environment & Sustainability - This subcommittee shall work with FPS administration, staff and student governance and other student organizations, to develop reporting on environmental and sustainability issues and to make appropriate recommendations to the full School Committee. Areas included in the scope for this subcommittee include, but are not limited to: municipal aggregation; rooftop solar panel installations; solar parking lots; wind power installations; heat pump HVAC systems; charging stations; school district energy management; paper use reduction; trash handling; recycling; composting; tree planting; garden installations; severe weather mitigation; building water runoff use; support of related student STEM projects; support of related curriculum electives; virtual presence meetings, etc. Also, creation of this new subcommittee aligns with citywide efforts, such as general sustainability operations, climate change and hazard planning, including the Municipal Vulnerability and Preparedness planning process, which is aimed at climate change resiliency.
The adoption of these seven subcommittees create the following changes from the previous term:
Facilities Subcommittee name changed to Buildings & Grounds to align with the FPS department name, and becomes a permanent standing subcommittee.
Racial Equity Subcommittee name changed to Equity, Inclusion & Diversity to align with the FPS department name, the upcoming Equity Audit, and to add greater focus on Diversity Hiring Initiatives by FPS.
Accountability & Student Achievement Subcommittee name changed to Teaching & Learning to align with the FPS department name, and strengthened reporting requirements in support of greater student achievement.
Health & Wellness, and Climate Change, Environment & Sustainability are brand new subcommittees.
The scope of the former Communications Subcommittee is now part of the Superintendent’s purview. This subcommittee was initially formed to support the then new Media & Communications Office, which is now up and running. The report determined that the basic communication structures are in place, and while communication is a constant area of focus it does not warrant having a subcommittee in place to oversee it.
The scope of the former Digital Infrastructure Subcommittee has merged with the Buildings & Grounds Subcommittee.
All Subcommittee meeting agendas, materials, and audio recordings are available on the School Committee’s Subcommittee Website. Subcommittee and liaison appointments will be announced in the next week.
The report also retained liaison positions for School Committee members to have a formal mechanism to collaborate with numerous groups throughout the community. New this term includes a liaison to each school’s Parent Teachers Organization (PTO), the Dual Language Parents Advisory Committee, and the Framingham Youth Council.
Agenda Framework and Long-Term Agenda
The framework for meeting agendas remains generally the same, with additional opportunities for public comment and optional reports from the Student Advisory Committee now offered. It is recommended that on a regular basis, the School Committee meet with the Mayor and his/her staff to ensure that communications are kept in good shape. That at least once a year, the School Committee meet with the state legislative representatives, as so much state action affects education, student health and wellness, student job prospects and climate change as it may have it greatest effects on the youth of today, and that as part of the budget process, there be at least one joint meeting of the Finance & Operations Subcommittee with the Council Finance Subcommittee.
The long-term agenda continues to prioritize that School Committee Meetings be held on Wednesday nights, and not conflict with the City Council’s schedule. Upcoming key dates in the near term include:
Transportation Updates with Staff from the Bus Vendor Durham School Services - February 5
FY21 Budget Development - March 5, March 17, March 18, April 1
Public Hearing on the FY21 Budget/Superintendent’s Budget Recommendations - March 18
Report on Necessary Renovations to Hemenway Elementary School and the Future Elementary School Location Study - March 5
Report on High School Space Study - March 18
School Improvement Plans and School Handbooks - April 1 and 15 and May 6
Annual Evaluation of the Superintendent - June 17
This list offers a brief summary of the multiple agenda items for future discussions. Click here to read the long-term agenda, which is subject to change based on scheduling. Click here to read the draft report the School Committee voted to adopt tonight. A final report with changes accepted will be updated in the near future.
About the Framingham School Committee
The Framingham School Committee is responsible for exercising co-leadership with Superintendent Dr. Tremblay in the vision, planning, policy making, evaluation, and advocacy for the mission of continuous improvement of student achievement in the district. Under our Superintendent and Administration, the School Committee is committed to operating within this purview to best serve the schools and the community.
About Framingham Public Schools
The mission of the Framingham Public Schools is to educate each student to learn and live productively as a critically-thinking, responsible citizen in a multicultural, democratic society by providing academically challenging instructional programs taught by highly-qualified staff and supported by comprehensive services in partnership with our entire community. For news, updates, and announcements, follow Framingham Public Schools (@FraminghamPS) on Facebook, Twitter, and (@framinghamschools) on Instagram. You can also join the conversation using #FraminghamSchools.
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