Cracks in floors and walls in high school an issue
By Becky Harvey
Oxford - The New Director of Student Services of the Oxford Schools, Ms. Trish Susen, graced the committee with her presence at the school committee meeting this past Monday night.
She presented a “CPR” or Coordinated Program Review. This is her 26th preparation of such a report. Areas of compliance/non-compliance are reviewed by the government. Oxford has received a commendation for its technology program. Susen said “we are light years ahead of so many other” districts. A history with the progression from prior reports is available on the school’s website. These in depth reviews include such things as interviews with parents and students, as well as review of the schools and programs. A corrective action plan was developed by Susen and has been made available for public review. The Title One and ESL plans are not yet finalized. This is an ongoing process that involves much follow-up and review. “The ability to be in 100% compliance is very, very difficult,” according to Susen. There is “nothing glaring, nothing huge” about which Oxford is non-compliant.
A quick note by Daniel Coonan, the chairman, was about the reclassification of Project C.O.F.F.E.E. He asked why the program was being reclassified as separate from the school itself. It basically comes down to the fact that the program takes place in a physically separate place. In the reclassification of the program as both a public separate day program and a public separate middle school day program, this will help improve the “numbers” of the high school and middle school. This means that the MCAS scores and other generalized test scores will more accurately be portrayed once the schools are separated. According to Allen Himmelberger, Superintendent of Schools, this has long been an issue where the mixed scores reflect a lower percentage of students achieving and doing well on standardized tests. The dropout rate will also be reflected more positively.
Student mobility rates were the next topic discussed. The district is in the top third of the state in terms of stability in the schools. Over the past three years, the mobility rate has hovered in the low to mid 90s as a percentage. This is a “good thing” according to Himmelberger. The state has a fairly high mobility rate in general. These numbers are much different than they were a generation ago, but the world has changed and this fluctuation is a result of those changes. Himmelberger noted that the aim of the district is to address these issues and find ways to help the students who, for whatever reasons, must make the moves in and out of the district. He said that job loss, unemployment and student need (IEPs and 504s, etc) create this higher rate. Another reason is the fact that students no longer regularly get “expelled.” Rather, students are shifted to other schools with programs that address those particular students’ needs. Coonan noted that students with disabilities and those from low-income families do have the highest mobility. “Trying to close the achievement gap on students with IEPs or from low income groups is the biggest challenge after every publication of the MCAS results each year,” stated Himmelberger. The mainstream students who have been in the district throughout their schooling is up in the nineties for graduation rates. It falls to the forties or so for students who transfer in and out, according to him.
A meeting is in the works to discuss BYOD- bring your own device- to schools. Coonan is looking to create a coordinated policy that will address this new and flourishing trend in schools. Wednesday the 27th at 2:30 p.m. there will be a public meeting in the community room of the high school. The meeting is open to the public and Coonan urges community members to attend.
A lack of insulation has caused cracks in walls and floors at the high school. It has also caused very damaging and disruptive leaks in the library. Himmelberger begged the committee to seek professional help in addressing these issues. He also mentioned the oily floor of the auditorium which is dangerous when it is wet and humid. He stated that all the seating needs to be removed and the floor polished and properly resealed. This is a “tedious” job, but ultimately something that needs to be done. Brenda Ennis requested a joint meeting with the board of selectmen to push forward and “finally rectify these problems,” she said. “The contractor who built this school went broke during the building of the school and now we have to pay the price,” she continued. She wants to see this building fixed. “Why are we dealing with this in a twenty-five million dollar building?” “We got stuck holding a bad bag,” commented Coonan.
Next March 18th will be the final Supper with the Super from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the high school. All parents are welcome. Parents of high school students will be notified in upcoming meetings.
Committee member Sara Gaucher reported her participation in the polar plunge last Saturday, sponsored by the high school’s student council and benefitting Special Olympics. She was able to raise $100 for cause and she didn’t die from exposure to the frigid waters of Revere Beach.
Brenda Ennis passed on congratulations from the committee to all seniors who are being accepted from a wide range of colleges.