Communication: It is the only way for a school system to run effectively and that is exactly what Branford schools is attempting to do with its Communication Sub-Committee. It is a collaboration of parents from Branford schools, administrators and members. Although there is a set agenda, all are welcome to discuss any topic such as curriculum, programs, technology and more. Parents are able to address any of their concerns and in return administrators seek to provide answers or at least promises to further investigate.
Of course cuts seemed to be on the minds of everybody. The Board of Finance has cut the Board of Education requested budget by $400,000. The BOE must now brainstorm ways to reduce and according to BOE Chairman Frank Carrano the only way to reduce $400,000 is to cut staff and teachers. It is possible that a total of 14 teachers plus paraprofessionals, aides and more could lose their jobs with these mandated cuts. The BOE will present to the RTM education committee on April 5.
Other topics on the minds of parents included technology and the digital future our children must be prepared for (learn more about ). Unfortunately the capital budget for technology has been cut so ordering more smart boards will not be happening in the near future. Parents requested that the schools research a better way for schools to communicate with parents. Suggestions included a school web site that shares all morning announcements made at the school, fundraising information, club date and times, and most importantly homework posted by all teachers consistently including a syllabus of the class. Some parents voiced concern that not all children make sure to get their homework done every night and if the parents are aware via a posting on line, the homework will be sure to get done.
One parent suggested the focus should not only be on technology but more importantly about the lack of textbooks at . Walsh parent of a 5th and 8th graders, Karen Williams said, “There are not enough textbooks in certain subjects and kids are forced to share.”
Other topics included an overview by BOE member David Squires regarding the Branford Early Childhood Initiative and the need for infrastructure to support early childhood education.
Also discussed were recent incidents involving at two Branford schools and the legality issues involved with disclosing those incidents to the public.
However, the topic that seemed to energize most parents was and has been for the past three years the supplementation of the current Investigations Math Program. Parents from school asked why their school does not supplement Investigations with other math programs, such as Scott Foresman – Addison Wesley when other schools do. Assistant Superintendent Mary Peraro made it clear that administrators allow elementary schools and teachers to supplement with other math programs and are encouraged to supplement when and where they feel necessary. It is the teachers’ decisions if they want to supplement with Envision or Addison Wesley. She went on to explain that administrators at all the elementary schools allow Investigations to be supplemented. Murphy parents believe their children are at a disadvantage because they do not see that Investigations is being suppplemented at their school. Parents went onto explain that they have seen no evidence of any other program than Investigations.
The current traditional math program, Scott Foresman – Addison Wesley, supplemented at Tisko is no longer in publication according to Peraro. Next year everyone will supplement with Black Line Master. This will require teachers to make copies of material they can supplement with instead of students having a soft cover workbook. Peraro did promise that teachers would have unlimited access to the number of copies needed.
Concern was voiced over the Excellency Awards for 5th graders which is given to all 5th graders who score advanced on all three aspects of the mastery tests: math, reading and writing. Typically this award is given to 30-40 5th grade students and this year only 13 students received those awards. Grades 6, 7 ,and 8 did have 30-40 students receive CMT Excellency Awards.