“I'm pleased to announce we are fully staffed and ready to go for the start of the year,” happily declared Superintendent, Dr. Les Olson, at the Stoneham School Committee meeting Thursday night.
Special Education Director Steven Orloff informed the school committee of a recently completed self-assessment of the Stoneham Special Education Department and mentioned a grant he is working on for more professional development seminars for special education faculty.
“Teachers have expressed a desire for more professional development days to improve special education,” Orloff said, detailing the need for staff to examine MCATs testing for special education students and other ability management classes.
The committee also talked about restoring the idea of a steering committee to formalize the process in developing criteria to help categorize a student's disabilities.
In connection with special education, the school committee reviewed and approved the fiscal 2012 budget. Led by Olson, the committee passed a motion to recommend a transfer of school funds to hire more full-and-part-time special education staff (1 1/2 new positions) instead of contracting jobs out at different times throughout the year.
“We have been spending over $100,000 in contracted special needs services,” Olson. “We can hire our own acting professional for about $60,000 and use the rest of the money to hire a part-time reading specialist for special education for elementary and pre-(kindergarten) level.”
Other positions that were discussed and solidified recently by the committee were an additional teacher for the third grade at . The current third grade teacher will be moving to second grade and the new teacher will be replacing her in third.
Issue of Soil Contamination Near Middle School Tackled
The fiscal 2012 budget deficit was also discussed. The deficit stands at $53,000. The committee discussed the spending that led to the deficit, talking about unforeseen utility expenses including a new water heater for the . Another source of unforeseen trouble came from contaminated soil just offsite from the Middle School that had to be cleaned up.
“Thankfully, there appears to be no contamination of ground water,” Olson said.
The committee believes that old pipes across Lincoln Field were the cause of the contamination. The site will continue to be monitored and tested as necessary.
There was a little contention raised by some of the school committee members after they perused the book's pages. Committee member David Maurer led the discussion on some changes to the handbook that the committee agreed would be addressed with some amendments to the book during the year.
Maurer and the committee saw problems with a lack of pictures or a map of the parking around some schools and the fact that there is no mention in the handbook of illegal parking or parking policy around the schools. The committee also wished an school-wide social networking policy was detailed in the handbook.
One of the last topics raised was a $3,000 scholarship fund donated by . The committee thanked HairMates and looks forward to discussing the particulars of how the salon plans to choose the right student, or students, for the allotment.