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Superintendent's Journal
Year 6: 2013-2014

Week beginning April 1, 2014
(Introduction to the Superintendent Journal)

Hit Counter by Digits

Tuesday, April 22, 2014: Inside the New High School
We met in the construction trailers today to talk about how the entire GHS kitchen operation will move to the Middle School building for next year, while Phase 2 of the construction project is underway (gym, kitchen, interior dining area, science labs). After the meeting I had my first tour inside the new building. Enough of the interior is complete, now, that workers are involved with interior finish—paint, flooring, etc. And it’s going together quickly. Teachers will be setting up their rooms the end of August. Students will be in next September.

Wow. Not a very sophisticated word, but the only word that comes to mind. Wow. The hallways are wide. The rooms are large. The bathrooms for students and faculty are clean and modern. The rooms are bright. The front entrance is well-designed. The library area has lots of windows and natural light. The lecture hall is in levels—it’s wonderfully designed.

The corridor entrances which will connect to the back of the high school are filled in with large pieces of wall, referred to as the plugs. When Phase 2 is finished, these plugs will be removed and voila—science labs, gym, café area will all then be connected. The new high school is unbelievable and amazing for Greenfield students. When side by side with the current school, you realize the extremely poor condition of the current building.

One feature I noticed was that not all the walls are unfinished cinder block. Some of the walls (for specific reasons) are finished and smooth. The flooring is going down now—with different colors of a new and durable flooring material that is supposed to last forever and be better than individual tiles. The pieces are heat sealed in some way so no seams are exposed or open.

Everyone at today’s meeting was commenting on how quickly the school is going together, now—how well the construction firms are managing on schedule. On any day from 50 to 100 construction workers are there. Today I saw painters, floor layers, supervisors, workers on the outside, workers starting landscaping.

The granite curbs were going in today. If you visit Newton or Federal Street you’ll see what concrete curbs look like after twenty years—all falling-apart crumbles. Stone curbs will last forever.

I hope reporters from the Recorder take a tour and take interior pictures for families and students to see and that soon others can go inside. It seems so very big inside. Difficult to believe it is actually smaller than the current high school. It’s just unbelievable.


Monday, April 21, 2014: Attendance, Noho Pride, Exit Planning, Vocabulary,

I worry about youth who drop out of school. How many will find a successful 21st Century path without an education? I created a guideline that students declaring they would be drop-outs would meet with me first. The meeting is supportive and questioning. Is there anything I might do to salvage the situation with the family and student? I try to understand the issues.

Over these years of meeting with students and their parents, the issues I see having an impact on dropping out include feeling of not belonging—no strong adult connection at home or school championing the student’s completion of an education sometimes coupled with depression; economic strains—not having a computer at home, for example, or money for clothes or events (research says this is a reason); having friends whose interests are not education; and school attendance.

Regarding family economics, I have removed fees from student extracurricular activities and even trips. I frequently review the importance of making all Greenfield public school opportunities equal opportunities—whatever we offer we offer to everyone, without expecting students have to pay. Yes, students always could request a scholarship or fee waiver due to economic hardship, but if you do this enough times it becomes like a brand. What value leads schools to separate students and families all the time based on home finances?

We are going into our 6th year with no fees for sports, no fees for instrument lessons (we have 90% of upward-moving grade 4 students requesting study of a music instrument next year), and no requirement of fees for class trips. Our fieldtrip guidelines estimate the costs and we ask parents for donations—and if parents have enough to cover another student, this is appreciated. And whatever parents can provide they provide. Our PTOs generally make up any difference. It feels important to have an equal opportunity no-fee school system—few schools do this.

I’ve been reading research about school attendance lately. If students develop a habit of not coming to school and being tardy in grades K, 1, 2, and 3, there is a high correlation with dropping out of school and falling seriously behind once they hit grades 4-5. Eleven (11) or more days of absence is considered very high absenteeism. Twenty (20) days of absence, after all, is one full month of school and in the formative primary grades when children learning reading and mathematics from sequential learning, a full month each year from our limited 180 days is too much. Young children need continuous introduction of skills and practice for the basics of literacy to support them through their middle and high grades.

Typically schools respond to attendance by formal notices to families, statutory requirements to notify a child welfare agency, and sanctions against grades earned. The letters we send probably are not inspirational. The state often doesn’t respond so the family is just left with a letter that schools have notified the state. Grading sanctions lower grades and this compounds student success and motivation. And yet, it’s difficult to pass students with 20 to 50 days of absence because what education did they receive?

Interestingly, the research about attendance discusses how some students stay out of school because they do not have the right clothes or clean clothes. Sometimes students stay out because the parent for various reasons is exhausted and either did not wake up to support meeting the bus on time or do not have transportation if the student missed the bus.

What was suggested as a helpful response to attendance is calling parents in and making a plan for regular attendance--explaining to parents the long-term effect of 20 absences and 30-40 tardies during these first four years of primary school where schooling habits are developed.

Our elementary schools are working to promote attendance with incentives (also suggested by research on what to do) for high attendance. A computer if purchased new is $500 to $1,000. A school’s annual cost for remedial services when a student is behind is probably $10,000/year on average. A community’s cost for someone who drops out is probably $30,000/year or more because there is such a high correlation with future poverty. Not always, of course. It would be cost-effective in the long-term to consider motivators that bring students to school every day. We pay for high absenteeism one way or another, as a school system and community.

Schools tend to emplace the same attendance guidelines used years before. Those procedures should be reviewed against the “what works” research. There seem to be family sensitive, forward-thinking, entrepreneurial ideas that any school system could use. And chronic poor attendance in early grades apparently has much to do with dropping out of high school.

Noho Pride
What makes this region so fabulous for living is the general openness and support of all lifestyles—there is an intelligence here (generally) about diversity and healthy, considerate living.

Greenfield High now has an established LGBTQ club. And our new high school made LGBTQ space considerations. Like many other locations, the new GHS will have gender neutral, private bathrooms where a student can change clothes—not just a boys locker room and a girls locker room where some students are uncomfortable. We are not yet active in the Noho PRIDE event, though, which is coming right up in two weeks. In western Mass, I believe this is the largest parade of PRIDE and support for LGBTQ youth and adults. Dozens of different schools, businesses, religious groups, and others participate. Just not Greenfield yet.

Last year was my first year attending the PRIDE event. As usual, I got the nudge from my daughter who said it was important school administrators attend. And it was. When I saw most area high schools and many private schools in the parade but not Greenfield, I knew we needed to add this to our support for LGBTQ students, parents, faculty, and community members.

The business sponsors are numerous and include: Baystate Health, Health New England, Mass Mutual Financial Group, Greenfield Savings Bank, Citizens Bank, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Chandlers Restaurant at Yankee Candle, Health New England, plus a variety of religious groups, colleges, and private and public K-12 school systems. Veterinarians. Retail stores. Hair Salons. Car dealers. It is a message of support.

The PRIDE parade has been an event in Northampton for 30 years. If you’ve never been to the PRIDE parade in Northampton and if you do not understand why we should have a presence, I recommend it. We have LGBT students at all school levels.

We have several banners for parades: Greenfield School Administrators, Greenfield High School Athletes, Greenfield PTOs. It’s probably too late to register for this year but Greenfield should have a presence with other schools and colleges at Noho PRIDE.

Exit Planning
There is so much to do to ready Greenfield schools for the 2014-2015 school year. I have to make a coordinated exit plan but it seems a daunting task. I don’t want to be desk-tied from now through June, so I have to think about this.

Vocabulary I’ve mentioned this free, daily vocabulary services before. Every day a new word comes to your inbox. There is a weekly theme. I like the word “intractable” and so I’ll share today’s word: “tractable.” We don’t just expand our command of English when we are in grades K-12—it takes a lifetime to learn our language. There are intractable new costs in this year’s budget and that means what?

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.

Sheila is tall. Neil is tired. In English we use the same word "is" to describe the two conditions even though one is a permanent attribute while the other is temporary.

Or consider the statement: Joan is quiet. What does that mean? Is she quiet by nature, an introvert, or is she being quiet today?

In Spanish, there are two verbs to describe the idea of being. Ser and estar both mean "to be" but with a big difference. Ser describes something that's inherent while estar is temporary.

If you want to say someone is tall, you'd go with ser, but if you want to say someone is tired, estar is the one to use.

Each language is a different way of describing the world. This week we'll feature five words to describe people. Whether these are temporary conditions or not, is left as an exercise to the reader.

tractable PRONUNCIATION: (TRAK-tuh-buhl)
MEANING: adjective: Easily handled, managed, or controlled

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin tractare (to handle) Earliest documented use: 150

USAGE: "'I don't want to go there,' said Sharina, who was normally such a tractable child.”
Susan Palwick; Hhasalin; Fantasy & Science Fiction (Cornwall, CT), Sep/Oct 2013.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014: Calendar, Kindergarten Start Decisions, School Safety and Security, Elementary Program of Studies, Teachers

Usually school calendar decisions for the next year are finalized by February/March. Sometimes decisions are put off for one reason or another. Last week a draft calendar discussed and prepared by administrators was finally shared with the school committee. Prior to this it was shared with teachers. In sharing, I mentioned that there may still be edits. Last year after many reviews by many people, a teacher noticed an error in September! It was corrected. Today principals reviewed the calendar again, referencing feedback.

One feedback: “The first day for kindergarten children needs to be noted in the text.” This is no problem to fix, but the topic generated quite a discussion on kindergarten screening, the term “kindergarten screening,” and how unnerving “kindergarten screening” talk is for parents just before their precious children start school. At one time, schools here did not assign children to teachers until “kindergarten screening” was completed, which was scheduled just before school. Why was this? There was a reason. But not letting parents feel settled with knowing their child’s new teacher encouraged people to choice out. Parents told the registrar Greenfield was not sensitive enough to parents of young children. So we stopped waiting to assign K teachers.

Why do we talk about and write about “kindergarten screening” so much? It’s true there is an obligation to screen children but why give the impression that a beautiful little child might fail something before even starting public school? The truth is that kindergarten screening a) does not prevent any child from starting kindergarten, b) does not have to take place before the child starts school for any reason except it is difficult to organize after teachers are fully busy with teaching, and c) is required to assure no child with a handicapping condition has been overlooked. And usually there are no unidentified children with disabilities. No child passes or fails kindergarten screening—it just provides a starting point so teachers know each child a little better than having no information. So why market this in such a stand-out way?

Since every child comes to school anyway, and since the real benefit of K screening is giving each parent and child a chance to meet the teacher and feel a bit at home and at ease with the new teacher and school, we decided to list the two days set aside as “kindergarten meetings.” So the parent will talk with the nurse and meet the teacher. The child will meet the teacher and play a few games which will let the teacher know if the child has small motor skills, can hear, see, and talk. Sometimes we identify a child who is already reading. Whatever we can do to lower parent alarm when transitioning these little children to our schools is important to consider.

No one thought more than two days was needed for these parent/child initial meetings at the child’s school. Parents need for their children to start school. If there are approx. 18 children in a class, probably 3 have already had meetings before school starts and probably another 3 have families who cannot bring the child to school. It was thinking about the math of meeting time needs that decided kindergarten children starting on the 3rd day the primary school is in session.

Everyone thought that the grade 1, 2, 3 children should come in and get settled first and then bring in the 5-year-olds who need a school that is settled. It all works out. Today’s discussion was productive.

Kindergarten Start Decisions
Speaking of kindergarten, I was clearly remembering the first day I put my child on a school bus to go to kindergarten. I was an administrator in the school system and I still remember the angst of a child getting on a bus that first day. And then waiting to make sure the same child got home safe and sound. We can tell from all the calling and calling of K parents asking questions and wanting to be sure of many details that the first day a kindergarten child goes to school is a big angst day for the parent. Greenfield, to date, buses kindergarten children in separately on the first day of school so they get to know their driver and the ride. We do as much as possible to make the transition to kindergarten as supportive and stress-free as possible for children and their parents/guardians.

School Safety and Security
Another topic reviewed today was School Safety & Security. I wanted to review the topic to assure every administrator had brought in safety officials, had security walk-throughs of the building, had discussed and also practiced lockdown drills, etc. And every school has had state police, local police, and the sheriff’s office in to give a presentation and training to staff, assist with lock down procedures, and to help with drills. Most schools have had two (2) drills now, supervised by police.

A long time ago, I remember when elementary children were taught to crawl under desks to protect themselves from a bomb. ? Today everyone is a little more sensible and sophisticated. And each school finds ways to work with children so they are not scared by the procedures and safety drills.

Narcotics-sniffing dogs have been in the high school unannounced twice. Actually, this is part of the dog’s training as much as it is for the school. The dog walkthroughs are similar to a state policeman being parked on the side of a highway—drivers are reminded that they shouldn’t speed when they see the police car on the side of the road. There is a protective, preventative influence of a visual reminder (police officer with trained dog) that some substances are illegal to have, sell, or use and high school students should not get involved.

Elementary Program of Studies
We worked on the Elementary Program of Studies today--a written record of programs and materials we now have in the elementary schools. It explains curriculum work of the last few years and what primary grade curriculum initiatives are ongoing now. It outlines core materials we need in every K-3 classrooms, manufacturers, and costs. This helps with budget planning, which is why we created the document initially. With a senior elementary principal model, the three primary grade schools order materials together, not school by school, so we are sure all the schools have the materials they need at the start of the year.

In the future, the Elementary Program of Studies will help Greenfield induct new teachers—having it written. Example: “We use <name of product> as the core program for reading.” Or “We teach printing in grades K, 1, 2, and introduce handwriting in grade 3.” We are editing carefully until all three principals agree that what is written represents the grade K-3 overview in place. When it is a little better edited we’ll send it around for experienced teachers to read to see if we missed something.

I will start and end my term in Greenfield advocating for teachers. The summer of 2008, it was not clear how much money we had available for teachers and administrators. I decided then that as much money as possible would go into teachers for students. That meant that a very few administrators covered multiple jobs. I recollect I covered five positions. We are still just getting back into place administrative positions that used to be in Greenfield—like a personnel office. And we are now proposing teachers needed for 2014-2015. We have lots of needs, but having enough teachers for the children continues to be a top priority for me. In particular we are slowly building a very strong reading program K to 12. We are rebuilding the strong art and athletics programs parents want and students need to develop lifetime healthy interests. This year we are reviewing requirements/standards and looking at technology teacher needs. We integrate technology but somewhere along the line students also need specific skills taught at specific grades, using a lab of some type.

April 15, 2015. Preschool Robotics, Film Festival Update, Teaching Positions for 2014-2015, Kindergarten Enrollment

Preschool Robotics
It’s true. There really is a curriculum for preschool robotics. We are now offering group lessons with Bee-Bots. Something new and apparently wildly successful for children three and four years old. These are little robots for children that look like little yellow bees with big eyes. The faculty at the Academy of Early Learning are having fun with these kits after one of our teachers brought the idea back from a conference. We just wrote and sent off today a $3,300 grant to provide teachers more Bee-Bots and additional training to integrate preschool learning goals into these fun, small-group activities.

Film Festival Update
In our 4th year, the high school auditorium was almost full at Greenfield’s Student Film Festival 2014. It seems like the audience had 550 to 600 people attending. We showed 33 student films. The audience was terrific—attentive while films were shown and engaged with students while they described their films. Hats off to Greenfield teachers for their creativity with class films this year. The audience award went to Ms. Rancourt’s class version of “What Does the Teacher Say?”—a take-off of the U-Tube favorite “What Does the Fox Say?” The audience loved it.

As soon as I can, I’ll post some of the films from this year’s festival. They were amazing. It was lovely to see so many teachers with their students, supporting their film efforts. And so many parents with their students—even on a Friday night! I’ll try to post films this week.

Teaching Positions for 2014-2015
Now it starts—positions opening for next year. We need:

  • 2-3 teachers for grades 5 and 4
  • 2 teachers grades 1 or 2
  • 2 technology teachers for grades K-7 (one fills a leave of absence)
  • 1 English teacher, middle school
  • a ½-time preschool teacher
  • 2 special education teachers, elementary, behavioral specialty
  • a ½-time reading or experienced elementary teacher (needed now, actually)
  • 1 building monitor, Greenfield High School (we need one more for 2014-2015)

Seems to me this is a great time to join the Greenfield Schools.

Kindergarten Enrollment
We now have 100 children registered for kindergarten for next year. At this time last year, we had approx. 78 children registered. We prioritize favorable staffing for this young age group with 18-20 children per class and each class has an assistant for as much time as needed. Next year all of our kindergartens will have interactive technology—SMART Boards—because we will bring quite a few SMART Boards from the high school into our elementary schools so every room is outfitted. In fact, all of our principals have toured the current 1957 high school and have tagged everything they need or want so when “take it out” day happens later in the year, many items from the high school will be relocated to other schools. And then, as you know, a portion of the high school will be demolished and students will move into their new classrooms and library. Exciting, but still a lot of logistical work, assuring everything is packed and moved just at the right moment, on schedule.

Friday, April 11, 2014: A Great Visit to GHS; Acts of Kindness; Free Lunch for All Students at Two Schools, and FILM FESTIVAL 2014!
Friday was a great day from the very beginning to the very end. I started my day at the high school.

Pulling in, I stared at the new high school building. Greenfield students will be in the new building in September. It startled me for a moment, thinking about all the work that went into this project that is now nearly half completed. Years of work, thousands of words, hundreds of pieces of paper, dozens of meetings—so many different people involved during the exacting planning and petitioning and clarifying. And there it was, finally, right before my eyes—this very large, light-filled, heat-working, windows-closing building almost built. Greenfield students will, this September, have a functional and modern school building. The 8th-grade Academy has its own section. It seemed unbelievable that the high school was happening. A 5:1 vote of support from community voters—parents who came to the voting booth with a small child in hand. Seniors who voted because they new the current high school had windows blowing in and heat pipes bursting in the floor. What an accomplishment for Greenfield and its education future.

Entering the high school office, a row of bewildered students were standing at the front counter. They had been called down to the office. And they looked just like students look when they are waiting to find out what they did that was wrong. But then Associate Principals Gaffigan and Heathwaite told them they were receiving awards! (I could see “Really?” on their faces). New “Random Acts of Kindness” awards were presented, recognizing these students for doing something thoughtful. How great is it that GHS administrators took time to create these new awards and then recognize students who did something kind or helpful? Maybe 15 awards were given to the surprised students.

Then I pinned on a rainbow ribbon from a bowl of ribbons and pins on the high school counter. It was a pledge of solidarity with gay and transgender students. We have been trying to establish a club at GHS to support gay students. This year’s club is visible, successful, and active—helping to raise everyone’s awareness that our world and our school system is made of people with different backgrounds and ways of living their lives.

Back to the central office to congratulate Bernie Novak, head of food services, for getting us Free-Lunch-For-All-Students at Federal Street Elementary School and Newton Elementary School. I thought we could qualify throughout the entire school system, but the middle school and high school just miss qualifying by a few percentage points. There is one more possibility for these schools being included and I am hopeful but it is a long-shot, apparently.

Another change in the food department is our snack program at Newton, Greenfield Middle School, and its Math and Science Academy. And the change is healthier snacks. Fruit, yogurt, and veggies with different healthy dips. No more sugary anything. It took a while to get this in place based on school committee determination, but now it is in place and students are eating the healthier foods (and the snack is free to students through the federal food program, which allows $0.80/cents/day per student).

Film Festival
Greenfield’s Student Film Festival is tonight. There are many types of student activities and programs in schools. Very few schools organize a film festival, though. And most schools that have a film festival profile high school student films. The Greenfield Schools film festival is quite unusual because we have students films from students as young as five years old.

I hope people attend and support our students.

Thursday, April 03, 2014 & Catching Up: ELT Grant, New No-Fee Lunch Program, Summer Professional Development, Enrollment Projections, Film Festival Friday Night! Visit to Federal Street Elementary School. Composting Grant. Superintendent Meeting

If you lose the rhythm of writing on a daily basis it’s difficult to pick it up again, but there is so much happening I’ll try to catch up.

ELT (Expanded Learning Time) Grant
Principal Gary Tashjian is the lead administrator working with me and others on the Expanded Learning Time grant. This is the $800,000 grant that expands the school day by 90 minutes for Newton School and grades 4-7. Principal Tashjian assures me we have the grant for next year and so we are planning programs for 2014-2015. At this time, the question is about 2015-2016 (year after next). During the next school year deciding about the ELT program will have to be a topic of study and decision-making.

New No-Fee Lunch Program
In 2010, the law changed for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast program. Under the new provisions of 2010, communities could apply to participate in a free-lunch-for-everyone program. What does this mean? It means that if we participate in 2014-2015, there will be no lunch money cost for any student K-12 in Greenfield Schools. In other words, every single student regardless of income would have free breakfast and free lunch in Greenfield’s schools.

The new every-student-has-free-lunch program started this week at Newton School. We sent home a notice that said “No More Lunch Money.” And a parent sent a very nice note to the school that said: “You totally rock! You folks made my day! Thank you so much for whatever it is that you all had to do to help us parents out. Usually everyone is asking for more, more, more money…. It’s so refreshing and appreciated when folks actually give you awesome news like you did.” It was a great note to receive. Any parent at Newton with a balance in a child’s school lunch account will have it returned.

Interestingly, the payment for one free lunch (by the government) is more than the payment for one paid lunch (by the parents). So if every student is free, the food service program will have slightly more funding and should be able to expand food choice offerings. Trial runs of this program across the country indicate that more students will eat lunch when money is not required.

Summer Professional Development (PD)
We have multiple requirements for professional development and training for teachers and everyone else. The best times for required PD programs is right after school ends in June and right before school starts in August. During July, we can offer optional programs our faculty would like. Each department or division has a list of ‘must do’ programs. We are now looking for faculty suggestions for study groups or programs of interest. And I hope some faculty will offer to teach a course. Why not? We hope to have a brochure available by the end of the month.

One new, important, and optional program we will offer is a study group on traumatized children and strategies for working with these children. We may offer a program on Foster Care and how to become a foster care provider.

Enrollment Projections
I project more students in 2014-2015 as the wave of higher class numbers reaches grade 5. I predicted 30-50 additional students and we have 80 additional students this year. Next year I predict 30-50 additional students. We could have have 80 additional students next year, also. It depends on our kindergarten enrollment and also how many Greenfield students return for the new high school. Basically we are graduating 80-90 students and enrolling 160-170 in kindergarten. And our Greenfield students are trickling back to Greenfield during the year.

We are having a few more kindergarten enrollment sessions on Tuesday evenings this month—at all three elementary schools (from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Principals will be available to greet parent of upcoming kindergarten. Class of 2027! It helps us when parents register early so we know how many children to anticipate. Parents can also register online or by coming in to the Davis Street building to meet with Lisa McGuinness (772-1318).

Film Festival
Greenfield’s unique Student Film Festival is next Friday night—April 11th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. GHS. There is no charge and it is a delightful evening of student creativity. We give free admission and free popcorn. And we give audience awards.

I helped screen middle school films. All the students have different create-a-film ideas. One student does a puppet show acting out the voices of all six characters. Another student does a magic trick comedy with a surprise ending. We have student performers, student singers, student spoof advertisements, and serious messages about bullying. And they are all short—3-4 minutes or less.

Like every other type of student activity where you increase your skill over time with practice, some film-makers are students who have been making films for a few years. You can see the sophistication of the film-making in several films. We already have students going to college to study film-making after high school as a result of our film initiative. We planned for the Film Festival event to be in April, giving students something creative to do during the long winter months.

There are CLASS films in the festival from each elementary school. I hope all the parents bring their children. It’s a very fun experience for the children to see themselves and their friends in movies! And the principals get all dressed up so our Film Festival sparkles like the Oscars. We have everything but the red carpet.

Visit to Federal Street Elementary School
At 5:00 p.m. today I visited Federal Street Elementary School and walked through the whole building with Principal Nancy Putnam. We talked about room use for 2014-2015. We discussed whether or not there was room for one more kindergarten class next year and whether or not the computer lab could move to the second floor. I love the floors at Federal Street. When we redid them, I asked for some colored tiles to enliven the hallways. Then the principal painted the door trim in primary colors to match--one floor yellow, one floor blue, one floor green, one floor red. And we made tile rug areas using all the different colored tiles throughout the school. It’s very cute inside. Difficult to make an old, old building look bright and cheery but it’s a colorful building inside. Most of the rooms are orderly, neat, colorful learning environments, even with a lot of materials. A few rooms need some help but mostly it is a really friendly school elementary school, even though these are some of the oldest school buildings in Greenfield.

Composting Grant
This year we are submitting a $10,000/year, 3-year composting grant. A group met this week to decide how to use the funds and in 2014-2015 the plan is for two (2) of Greenfield’s schools to start composting. Someone needs to help students, particularly younger ones, sort their lunch garbage and food. We started talking about student safety patrol from years ago. Elementary students had sashes and badges and had leadership positions helping other children. Three of us raised in three different states all remember this. So we talked about whether or not older students could have leadership positions, helping younger children sort waste for composting. Something to think about.

Superintendent Meeting
Each month superintendents of Franklin County meet (in Greenfield) and today there were four speakers. Each of us can bring up topics to see if others are interested. Today I brought up two items: 1) do any of us need some type of employee where we do not need a full-time employee and might share an employee with another district, and 2) could we meet to assess whether or not we collectively need certain specialized student programs in Franklin County? And there was interest in both topics so next meeting superintendents and special education directors will meet together. Greenfield spends between 2.2 and 2.4 million on specialty programs we need but do not have in the area. In my office, I have been researching and taking steps to see how our school system might help other agencies create more foster homes in this area so our students do not have to leave Greenfield if they need to leave their home.

That’s the news. I met the cutest little kindergarten child today who came with his mom. I could see the mom was so very tired, so I brought us each coffee and passed out some almonds. The little child took the almonds and started counting them out—he was very careful counting to ten. I don’t have crayons and drawing paper so I improvised with paper plates and markers. He made a wonderful picture for Mrs. Putnam and carefully printed out her name. While the student was drawing and his mom and I were having coffee, we three managed to have a very nice talk about school and the importance of going to school every day. I thought the occasion called for a low-key atmosphere and we had a successful meeting.

Page last updated: April 23, 2014




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