Baileyville School Committee Meeting Sees Student Presentation and Debates Coaching Positions

 

Woodland Elementary students demonstrate technology skills in the classroom at recent school committee meeting. Pictured l-r: Mrs. Pratt, William McIver, Cassie Carter, and Mrs. Howland. (Photo by Jarod Farn-Guillette).

By Jarod Farn-Guillette

The Baileyville School Committee met on Wednesday, February 8th and opened with presentations from 5th  and 6th grade students William McIver and Cassie Carr, who demonstrated their new Chrome® Books and uses of technology in learning. William showed his presentation and computer skills with Google Docs® making a tabulated chart, a slide show, and a report. Cassie Carr took the committee members through a day in 6th grade, showcasing the various software packages used to enhance student learning of common core subjects. Carr showcased the educational software packages, IXL and Kahoot!® Spectators were dazzled when a magic math wizard zapped the answer and slayed the enemy integer.  

What started as a light introduction quickly led to serious debate and discussion on a range of topics from spring coaching positions, the proposed school building, input from student council members on the timing of February's winter carnival, police dogs in school and test cheating with smart-phones.  The committee started with coaching evaluation committees to be made of three-person teams. One issue, that involved lengthy discussion, pertained to agenda item seven, the nomination of spring coaches, with particular attention to the high-school baseball coach. Member Sheridan Smith raised the question, “Did we follow the existing procedure or policy as far as advertising the position and selecting the top three?” To which the superintendent Braun responded that he did not advertise the positions and re-nominated last year’s coaches. Sheridan followed with “So we are not using the existing policy.” Braun countered by stating the policy was deleted. Smith's issue of contention with not using the previous policy applied to a former long-serving baseball coach that was not picked up again. Smith added, “I'm going to support them all, but Barney Perry was coach for ten years but never got a chance to re-apply...I don't really think that's fair” He ended with “It's a raw deal and we lost a good volunteer for this town.” Pat Sammers chimed in, “How do we correct it?” To which Smith retorted, “Change the slate.” Bohanon dissented with “We did it that way for the winter sports, now we’re not for the spring...stick with one way.” The committee opted to approve coaches individually, with junior and high-school softball and tennis approved, baseball - not. Bohanon's contention against changing back to the previous policy was the current precedent set when they hired the winter coaches. Sammers said, “Something happened in the past that was wrong and we need to look at that.”  The high-school baseball coaching position was not seconded and sent for reevaluation. Bohanon said on record, “We should have done this at Christmas...we are doing the same exact thing that happened to Barney to Kenny now.”  

The superintendent's report covered standardized testing and proposed a revolving loan fund to be applied to the fire suppression system in the proposed school building. While viewing architectural renderings, the project's budget, projected at $9,895,000 was discussed. Tax increases were brought up. Superintendent Braun mentioned the existing building needs over $4,000,000 in updates to be code compliant.  Building committee member McHugh gave an explanation regarding taxes, emphasizing a two mill-rate increase against previous year's decrease of four. Braun stated the project will produce a savings of $120,000 per year in heating, maintenance and travel costs incurred by the present building. A public meeting is planned for March 23rd with a vote on April 11th. The committee then briefly returned to the high-school baseball coaching position with a question of whether or not it would be appointed tonight. Smith responded with a no, suggesting that if the two coaches “can put their egos aside,” and consider a compromise, co-coaching. He briefly addressed MEA/MSA's concerns over funding changes proposed by Gov. LePage's budget.  

 

The first topic on the principal's report was winter carnival. Historically, a week-long affair that spanned lunch-break to 6th period, teachers raised concerns over missing that period, needed for remediation. The student council members' position that a sudden change in scheduling, condensing it into Friday, was not possible so close to the festival and “it felt like we are being punished.” To which a teacher responded that it is not about “messing up plans,”rather an issue of inclusivity. Stating that in recent years the school has more students with special needs, autism and anxiety issues. Students would be adversely affected by a sudden change of routine.  Student council stated they needed an emergency session to re-plan winter carnival, to which principal Vicare, responded “It's been re-planned.” The student council member quickly followed with, “..it cut out a lot of games and we've spent a lot of our money.” The band/chorus teacher was concerned about an upcoming concert and missed practices. She voiced her concern against the schedule that “has been set in stone for the past ten years.” She was quickly cut off and spoken over by Galant saying, “I don't agree with one thing you said.” Compromise was a word that came up often during the meeting, that was the recommendation to student council. Also included was K-9 units being summoned for a search as a result of catching students using marijuana on campus. No drugs were found. The last item raised was recent cheating using smart-phones. Students purchased digital test answer keys on-line. The cheating was discovered when multiple students wrote the same (incorrect) answer  from the key. He informed anti-cheating measures are being taken.