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Framingham Education Leaders Kickoff Planning Efforts for the Student Opportunity Act

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 



New legislation signed into law offers Framingham numerous new pathways for students; stakeholders are encouraged to engage with government as plans are developed

February 14, 2020 (Framingham, MA) – Framingham Public Schools have launched a planning and outreach effort around the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).  Over the next two months, stakeholders will have the opportunity to learn about the recently enacted legislation and offer their feedback to decision makers before votes scheduled for April 1st.  

Signed into law in November 2019, the SOA implements the recommendations of the 2015 Foundation Budget Review Commission and includes other provisions to benefit public schools over the next seven years.  The main focus of the legislation is to invest in evidence based areas to improve student outcomes within subgroups who are not achieving at the same high levels as their peers. According to the Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), there are “persistent opportunity and achievement gaps...for our students of color, low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities.  Closing these gaps is our collective work for the next decade, and the SOA will fuel our efforts to ensure all students achieve at high levels and are prepared for success after high school.”

The Framingham Public School’s role is to prepare a SOA implementation plan by engaging with stakeholders, building on current programs, and ultimately proposing to invest in evidence-based initiatives to deepen success.  The planning stages have already begun to prepare for presentations in February and March, and an expected vote by the School Committee scheduled for April 1. This past Monday at a meeting organized by Senate President Karen Spilka, and with Framingham’s State Representatives Jack Lewis, Maria Robinson, and Carmine Gentile in attendance, Superintendent of Schools Robert Tremblay, Executive Director of Finance & Operations Lincoln Lynch IV, and members of the School Committee met with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey Riley.  Focused on the SOA and the process for submitting the Student Opportunity Plan, the meeting served as a review of the planning, reporting, documentation, votes necessary, and next steps for school districts to access this new funding. 

“Our meeting was a great step to gaining a better understanding of the details of the Student Opportunity Act funding and application guidelines” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert A. Tremblay.  “We appreciated the opportunity to express our gratitude to our Legislators and Commissioner who are all working so hard to extend these supports to children in our community.”

School Committee Members and Superintendents from Senate President Karen Spilka’s District pose for a picture after meeting with legislators, the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Framingham School Committee Members pictured are District 1’s Beverly Hugo, District 3’s Scott Wadland, District 4’s Adam Freudberg, and District 7’s Tiffanie Maskell. Also pictured are Senate President Spilka, Representatives Jack Lewis, Maria Robinson, and Carmine Gentile, Superintendent Robert Tremblay and Executive Director of Finance & Operations Lincoln Lynch (Photo Credit: Office of Senate President Karen Spilka)

School Committee Members Tiffanie Maskell (District 7) and Adam Freudberg (District 4) listen to a presentation by Commissioner Jeffrey Riley with Senate President Karen Spilka looking on (Photo Credit: State Representative Maria Robinson)

The SOA and DESE ask each school district to make four Student Opportunity Commitments in order to close opportunity and achievement gaps among student subgroups.  The four commitments are to:

  1. Intentionally focus on student subgroups who are not achieving at the same levels as their peers;

  2. Adopt, deepen or continue specific evidence-based programs to close opportunity and achievement gaps for student subgroups and allocate resources to support these programs; 

  3. Monitor success in reducing disparities in achievement among student subgroups over three years with a small number of metrics and targets; and

  4. Engage families, particularly those families representing student subgroups most in need of support, about how to best meet their students’ needs.

Preliminary numbers from the Governor’s budget proposal have Framingham receiving $4.3 million in SOA funding. It is important to note that the proposed spending plan being developed will require School Committee, Mayor, and City Council reviews and appropriations if approved. Additionally, the SOA funding may be utilized to cover year to year budget increases from enrollment growth and additional factors in order to focus on student subgroups who are not achieving at the same levels as their peers.

FPS is beginning the outreach about the SOA in partnership with organizations such as Parent Teacher Organizations, the Framingham Teachers Association, the Framingham Special Education Parent Advisory Council, the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council, and more.

At the next series of School Committee meetings FPS and members will review SOA implementation plans and FY21 budget proposals.  A public hearing on the budget and SOA has been scheduled for March 18. Additional meetings are scheduled and all offer public participation opportunities on February 26, March 5, March 17, and April 1.  All School Committee meetings offer members of the public up to three minutes to speak at the start of any meeting, with an additional opportunity available at the end of meetings if requested. Public comment rules can be found here.

“We are seeking to hear from students, parents, guardians, and community members to help your government develop and set priorities,” said Adam Freudberg, Chair of the School Committee, District 4.  “Not only do we need to start strong this year with a specific plan, but over the next few years the Student Opportunity Act is directing new funding each year to invest in Framingham’s youth. We must focus on the end goal of student outcomes in order to make measurable progress in addressing the various inequities in existence and the opportunities to support student achievement across the city.”

A final vote on the SOA implementation plan, and also on the school district’s budget submission to the Mayor are scheduled for April 1.  All School Committee meetings are scheduled for 7:00 p.m. in the Memorial Building’s Blumer Room. Those interested are also welcome to email ideas to the School Committee and Superintendent.  For agendas, meeting materials, and email addresses, visit the School Committee’s website.  

The following meetings are expected, but are subject to change.  Additional School Committee Subcommittee Meetings are expected as well.  Check the website for confirmation, and for the specific listings for when SOA agenda items are scheduled.

February 26: School Committee Meeting, 7 p.m., Blumer Room Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street

February 27: Special Education Department and Special Education Parents Advisory Committee Information Night, 6:00 p.m. Cameron Middle School, 215 Elm Street (Register on Eventbrite or on Facebook)

March 4: Community Celebration and Discussion on the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) presented by FPS, Framingham Teachers Association, and School Committee Members, 6:15 p.m., Barbieri Elementary School, 100 Dudley Road (Register on Eventbrite or on Facebook)

March 5: School Committee Meeting, 7 p.m., Blumer Room Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street

March 17: Joint Meeting of the City Council and School Committee with State Legislators, 7:15 p.m., Blumer Room Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street

March 18: School Committee Meeting, Annual Public Hearing on the FY21 Budget Proposal, SOA Implementation Plan Presentation, 7 p.m., Blumer Room Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street

April 1: School Committee Meeting, Vote to Submit the FY21 Budget Request to the Mayor, Vote on the SOA Implementation Plan, 7 p.m., Blumer Room Memorial Building, 150 Concord Street

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.

Information from DESE was used throughout this press release.

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