On Tuesday afternoon, ALT members attended a professional development presentation from Carol Kosnitsky on the topic of Massachusetts Tiered System of Support (MTSS). For the past several years Northampton schools have been experimenting with “Response to Intervention” (RtI) strategies for improving student learning. During this time, DESE has developed an integrated model for schools to organize instruction so that all students are receiving instruction at the appropriate level and intensity. Carol provided administrators with “the big picture” in implementing this approach effectively. The strategy: a system level change carefully orchestrated at the district level and thoughtfully paced in manageable steps over a multi-year period will build a system of support that ensures all students can demonstrate mastery of the curriculum. Effective implementation requires resource allocation in staffing, scheduling, professional development, planning and collaboration time, and for materials. Our administrative team will be taking this knowledge, assessing what we need in order to be ready to move in this direction, and deciding on our practical next steps.
This has been a week of budget discussion and development. We are working to design our organization to fit within the FY14 allocation we have been given which is level funding plus $69,000. As I presented last evening to School Committee, given our contractual agreements with our collective bargaining units, and the additional educational needs of our system for next year, we are left with approximately a $1.2 million gap. Though the idea of charging a fee for full-day kindergarten was investigated and discussed, I am putting that idea on hold for now. We will continue to look at a modest increase in school lunch prices and our athletic fees; we will continue to look at reducing the busing routes for the high school; and then we will look at the impact of a reduction of the equivalent of 23 teaching positions. The next draft of our budget will be discussed during our ALT meeting on Tuesday morning.
Next week, our school councils will offer their input on the budget and the needs of each school during a meeting with our Budget and Property Subcommittee on Tuesday at 6:00 pm in the JFK Middle School library.
Brian L. Salzer
Photo courtesy of scienceatlife via Flickr. Used under creative commons license.