By Pierre Comtois
GROTON — In the pause before the next budget cycle begins, the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee voted to support a number of proposed legislative initiatives affecting schools.
Among the annual duties taken up at its meeting of Nov. 12, the School Committee voted to appoint newcomer James Frey as their representative to Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC).
The School Committee also voted to support a list of MASC grievances. One of them called for a change in the way special education students are counted, in order for school systems to be eligible for more state funding. Another would make sure that charter school enrollments would not be valued more highly than public school tuition.
A third MASC resolution includes an “advocacy agenda” demanding more state funding for public schools, a declaration by the state calling a halt to any new charter schools, a provision to allow “a variety of additional assessment instruments” other than MCAS to judge student achievement, and to soften the state’s “English only” law.
A fourth resolution seeks to establish pre-school and full-day kindergarten as requirements in Massachusetts with full funding by the state, require coordination among youth-oriented groups to better meet the needs of “students at risk,” more state funding for after-school and summer programs, the establishment of “readiness schools” as advocated by Gov. Deval Patrick, higher salaries for particular teachers based on skill level or hardship due to place of assignment, and to “provide permanent incentives and support” for school systems that unionize or regionalize.
Although the School Committee voted to support the four MASC resolutions, some members were not happy when they saw how the list had lengthened over the years.
Committee member Chuck McKinney recalled how all of the resolutions could once fit on the side of a coffee mug handed out by MASC, something that would now be impossible.
It was McKinney’s contention that the group was asking too much of the state’s Legislature, which often takes six months to arrive at a single decision. There simply were too many resolutions for legislators to concentrate, he said, with the danger than none of them would be properly addressed.
Even Superintendent Alan Genovese had to admit that the resolutions themselves offered no solutions to the questions, which would further slow progress in the Legislature.
Also School Committee members:
* Voted to approve a charge to the Communications Subcommittee, consisting of working to review past policies and develop new approaches aimed at improving communication between town officials, the public and themselves.
* Voted to approve new contracts with the district’s assistant principals.
* Heard from Timothy Sheehan, the district’s director of business and finance, on continued efforts to find a contractor to cover trash collection. A first round of bids failed to impress the administration, with their failure to address some areas of concern, and so a second round was to be scheduled. The administration was also still waiting for more information from a vendor assigned to replace an elevator at the Swallow Union School.
The School Committee’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3.