BOE discusses teacher evaluations, security


Eliza Llewellyn

BOE members unanimously approved recommendations about teacher evaluations and a request for proposal for interior door locks.

At Monday night’s BOE meeting, school board members tackled topics from teacher evaluations to security.

After announcements, an acceptance of gifts, and the approval of administrators’ contracts, the discussion moved into changes to the teacher evaluation plan, with discussion spurred by new state initiatives. The State Board of Education has allowed for a reduction in the number of Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) from two to one for the 2013-2014 year.

“To perform well on SLOs, teachers and administrators have to upload incredible amounts of evidence into Protraxx (data reporting software),” said Director of Human Resources Marge Cion. “This diverts attention from what we want them to be focusing on – student achievement, not uploading evidence on student achievement.”

Cion also recommended not decoupling CMT and CAPT scores for this year, even though state guidelines allow for teacher evaluations less pinned on standardized testing for teachers. However, the use of CAPT and CMT data would serve as comparative data giving insight into the effectiveness of the curriculum over time, according to Cion.

The recommendations, which passed unanimously, broached discussion on the importance of student evaluations as factoring into teacher’s ratings.

“Student evaluations are extremely valuable,” said BOE member Brett Aronow. “We give such praise to our kids about how high achieving they are, and they are the ones to ask about how well they are learning.”

Moving on from teacher evaluations, the board began to address the 2015-2016 calendar, planning two years in advance. According to Landon, the school would start before Labor Day, with Columbus Day as a school day, five built in snow days, and 182 total days.

The vote on the calendar will take place at the next meeting, and the topic generated discussion among board members. Michael Gordon brought up the idea of having seven snow days in order to avoid lopping off April break days, and a parent spoke in favor of a later start date in the summer.

The board’s final item on the agenda was school security. The Board voted to expand the Director of Facilities position to also cover security.

The BOE also unanimously approved a request for appropriation for interior door locks, which meet fire code requirements and are more secure than the current doors, which lock from the outside. “It’s the single most impactful thing we can do from a school security standpoint that would require funding to implement,” Whitney said. The appropriation for the locks will continue to the BOF and the RTM.

In other security matters, Whitney said that the school district has already established a liaison with the police department. She also noted possible improvements to infrastructure, which will be further discussed on March 24.