Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, November 30, 2023

Public Comment

Two parents spoke during public comment about issues with the science class in Learning Community 1 at Gibbs Middle School. Their 6th grade daughters are unhappy with the experience in science class, where there is a long-term substitute teacher without a science background. The parents expressed concerns about classroom management, lack of science instruction, and inequity compared to other learning communities that have certified science teachers. They asked the district to find a solution, even if difficult, to provide a better experience for these students.

Ottoson Middle School Improvement Plan

Brian Meringer, principal of Ottoson Middle School, presented the school’s improvement plan focused on improving achievement for focal student groups. He discussed goals around using data to inform instruction, increasing student engagement, reorganizing counseling services, and improving family engagement. The plan aims to close opportunity and achievement gaps, especially for students with IEPs, Black students, Hispanic students, English learners, LGBTQ+ students, and low-income students. Mr. Meringer highlighted Ottoson’s high accountability percentile of 98% on the state assessment.

Gibbs Middle School Improvement Plan

The principal, assistant principal, and science director from Gibbs Middle School presented their improvement plan. It focuses on improving writing skills in ELA, strengthening relationships between staff and students, and increasing family engagement during the transition to middle school. School leaders are targeting support for students with IEPs and African-American students. The team also discussed the ongoing challenges of the transition to middle school for students with IEPs.

Budget Requests

Committee members reviewed an initial list of budget requests from schools and departments. Administrators were asked to focus requests on the needs of focal student groups and consider upcoming contract negotiations. The list will be refined and prioritized before coming back to the committee. There was discussion about adding technology like projectors and about getting input from the new district-wide working groups on budget priorities.

School Committee Room

The committee discussed concerns with the furniture and setup of the new school committee room. Staff will work with the superintendent on evaluating options, including furniture that better accommodates technology and meetings, while still allowing the room to be used for other purposes during the school day.

Superintendent’s Update

Superintendent Homan gave updates on the fall climate surveys being conducted for families, students, and staff. She announced Superintendent’s office hours for staff. The invitation remains open for community members to join district-wide working groups, and an invitation will soon go out to students as well.



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