The January Malverne school board meeting brought two presentations. One informed the school board members about the school district facilities, the other depicted how Malverne teachers collaborate and organize their work. Any presentations are always welcome entertainment, as they cut the boredom of the school board reading sessions.
First. Spiro Colaitis, the assistant superintendent, reported on facilities upkeep, bathroom upgrades, aerial (drone) surveillance, commemorative bricks, and the new fence in front of the high school. The fence was shown from different angles, including the aerial view. One picture showed a rendering of shrubs that will be planted in front of the fence in spring.
While Mr. Scolaitis’ facilities presentation was to inform school district residents, the other presentation targeted educators, specifically the “excellence and equity” peers. Presentations that explain how to “unpack the standards” have been flooding the internet since 2011, but Malverne common core team turned the challenge a notch higher in quality. Entitled “Spotlight Standards,” this “K-5 Common Core ELA initiative” goes beyond showing off how teachers unpack the standards. It takes viewers through the terminology, e.g. collaboration, PLN, research evidence, ownership of learning. “It’s [spotlight standards] given us time to come together once a month and collaborate,” states one teacher. The “spotlight standards creates the connection between the small group reading and the whole group,” says another.
Reformers, like MaryEllen Elia, NYS ed. commissioner, must rejoice seeing the presentation. It could also find its way to “A Dream Deferred” conference in March, or serve as a sequel to the article written last year for the Gates-funded Education Trust. It remains to be seen what information exactly will get explained down to the parents so they can understand what’s being applied in the classrooms. The K-5 ELA initiative takes up on the initiatives of the past school year and students still have to wait for an initiative beyond the ELA. The SAC/BOE members didn’t have immediate comments.
During the public participation, the district liaison for Senator Todd Kaminsky presented a forum on HS diploma options. It will take place on February 7th in Rockville Centre. The Chancellor Betty Rosa and Regent Roger Tilles will represent the Board of Regents. Assembly representatives of surrounding districts will attend as well. The audience will be able to submit their questions.
In November, the district management established an internal committee with a task to evaluate how the new, CC-aligned Algebra exam affects the calculation of the final GPA results. Due to the exam’s negative impact many school district stopped calculating results of this exam into the final GPA. Currently, the exam represents 10% of the GPA in Malverne school district. The committee continues to evaluate the impact.
I appreciated the launch of the weekly STEM newsletters, as they reflect on work at schools. At the same time, I mentioned that the high school, the school that triggered the development of the STEM program, is not represented in the newsletters. I didn’t get an answer why it is so.
At the end of the meeting Senator Kaminsky’s liaison expressed her surprise how few people were in attendance. She and I were the only public. In other districts that she attends, the meetings can take till 11 pm, as parents come, ask questions, or bring suggestions. She was not aware that in Malverne school district such function is reserved for the SAC meetings, where the “community of involved” meets, circumventing effectively the “one community.”