School Committee weighs budget, other issues

After a long hiatus that included the Thanksgiving holiday and a trip to Moscow, I’m back and sitting in on Tuesday evening’s omnibus School Committee meeting, at which a number of issues are being tackled, including plans for a new Wellington elementary school, policy changes involving e-mail and job postings, and capital requests for the town’s schools looking out to FY 2012 and beyond. There isn’t much to report on the Wellington project. Gerry Missal provided an overview of the latest (but not final) blueprints for new school. Representatives from Jonathan Levi Architects were in the audience and answered questions about the design. Audience members had questions about the security of the new facility and about whether it would address the current building’s woeful heating and cooling problems. (If you were wondering: “yes” the new building is designed to maximize energy efficiency and natural lighting, unlike the current structure.)

Former School Committee member Kathy Miller consulted with the School Committee as it works to revise its current policies — I could give you the gory details here, but you might just fall asleep and drool into your keyboard, so I’ll spare you.

Ken Kramer, Belmont Public School Director of Student Services is now briefing the SC on the Belmont Public Schools process for identifying and providing services to students with special needs. The BPS has a number of initiatives for 2008 and 2009, which include more staff training and the development of a consistent procedure, district wide, to serve students with special needs, work with teachers and identify behavioral problems. Among other things, the BPS needs to identify the different types of interventions it is using district-wide, assessment and monitoring of those interventions, etc.. Basically, the current system varies from student to student, and building to building. Responses to Intervention (RTIs) need to be standardized.

It’s also worth noting that a Special Ed Focus Group has been formed for BHS. The group is made up of parents and SPED educators and will have its first meeting on December 16th. The group will be working on ways to better deliver SPED services at BHS.