We began the January meeting discussing deliverables from our Communication meeting last November. We ran through a number of items that we had discussed and any action that has since been taken.
“Simplifying the naschools.net website, if possible. Aim for a “2 clicks away” improved for user experience.”
The Technology Department created a ‘Website Committee’ as edline is going away. The site was last revamped in 2010, and the discontinuation of edline has pushed the need to redo NA’s website sooner than initially planned. Other districts have already taken steps to replace edline, and NA’s committee, which consists of members from administration, curriculum, media, teaching and residents, is looking at companies to meet NA’s needs with a replacement.
“A town-wide newsletter that every school contributes to. A few attendees recalled “True North,” a bi-yearly newsletter that went out in the newspaper. Talk began regarding finding a way to revive the idea of a newsletter that each school contributes to, which is then distributed to the entire district.”
Mr. Holcomb has spoken with Kate Violet and she will begin working with students to develop a newsletter for the entire district. NAHS alum Stacey Nassaney will be meeting with Kate to help lay the groundwork for this endeavor.
“Reviving the PTO presidents’ meetings with the Superintendent. This would create a wonderful opportunity for PTO presidents to share what is going on with their schools, as well as learn any information from the School Department that needs to be shared with their school communities.”
Mr. Holcomb has revived PTO presidents’ meetings with the Superintendent and we hope for this to begin in February.
“Issuing a monthly report in local newspapers that show where North Attleboro Public Schools are in relation to surrounding communities”
Mr. Holcomb plans to begin a YouTube channel that will include 2-5 minute videos to keep the community in the loop and informed. Many of these will be Powerpoint presentations with a voice over. Once instituted, there will be a link on the NA Schools website. In addition, videos will be shared via the NASD social networks.
“Create options for families in town to subscribe to calendars and receive automatic updates when events or activities are taking place.”
The ability to click on the school department calendar and have items added to your personal calendars on your cell phone exists.
“Ask NorthTV to ensure that we can view School Committee meetings on North TV’s “video vault” (http://northtvvideovault.pegcentral.com/).”
NorthTV has has added prior videos to the vault and they can now be accessed via the NorthTV website.
“Attendees suggested utilizing our high school students to volunteer their time and talents to help improve town-wide communication amongst our schools.”
Mr. Holcomb’s discussion with Kate Violet included her support of utilizing our student’s talent to assist with improving town-wide communication.
“Reach out to the managers of all of the PTO Facebook pages to organize a method for sharing similar information to each of our respective schools.”
MOKIES was able to contact Facebook page managers for all of the elementary schools and the middle school. There is an email list in place where we will share information if it’s related to the entire district (e.g. Flu Clinic at Martin School). We’ve also encouraged sharing more school page posts on Facebook with other schools to keep the community in the loop.
Naschools.net was updated with new images to reflect our entire school community, showing a wide range of activities and students from the ELC, all of our elementary schools, NAMS, and NAHS.
Topic: The Budget Process
North Attleboro has a per pupil expenditure of around $11K being almost the lowest in the state. The good news….actually the GREAT news…. Is North Attleboro is considered the most efficient district in the state of Massachusetts as our students are achieving academically highly compared to all other school districts. Even with decades of budget cuts, the quality of our education is high thanks to the efficiency of our School Department and the quality of our teachers.
Where does the money come from to pay $11K per student? Numerous sources including property taxes (residential and business), Chapter 70 money, circuit breaker money, Grant Money, new growth, etc.
How Did We Get Here?
The story goes that prior to proposition 2 ½, North Attleborough lead a fiscally conservative life and didn’t raise taxes at a rate as high as neighboring towns. This conservative approach creates a tax base lower than other towns. When proposition 2 ½ was passed it prevented towns from raising the tax levy more than 2 ½ percent without an operational override vote. North Attleborough would only be able to increase at 2 ½ every year on the conservative pocket of money in the tax levy. Going back as far as the early 1980s, North Attleboro didn’t tax much as a fiscally conservative town. This has led us to where we are today. Each department gets a piece of the pie and the School Department, being the largest, get the biggest piece. The years of not raising the tax levy more than 2.5% has taken its toll. After 30 years, the quality of our school system having to work off of constant budget cuts is suffering. Our School Department is trying to live within a budget that is outdated and doesn’t properly support educational needs.
What Can We Do?
The budget problems within our school system are not going to go away until the town is able to raise the tax levy to help all departments. A permanent override would help fix budget problems, but it’s been difficult to get the majority of voters to agree that is the best solution. In the meantime, our School Department needs to find “outside of the box” ways to bring money into our schools. Mr. Holcomb is putting together a task force to explore the idea of school choice. He is also looking into renting out the Allen Avenue school building as a way to bring income into the Department.
One issue that affected our schools was the number of students North lost to Tri-County after the failure of the override. As a means of convincing voters how important passing the override was, the School Department openly discussed the problems our students were facing because of constant budget cuts which, understandably, made a number of parents nervous. The shift is changing, though. Our student population is increasing. Despite the lack of funding our schools have been able to receive due to failure to pass an override and raise our tax levy the quality of our education shows in the fact that the NAHS class of 2017 has a collection of students attending MIT, Yale, Brown, Harvard, and Georgetown next fall. North Attleboro students have remained competitive and are continuing to excel. But we need to invest more money for the future of our schools. That’s the bottom line.
New Topic: Inequality Among Enrichment Offerings Between Schools
We also discussed the inequality between the different elementary schools and what is offered through enrichment programs at low-student population schools versus larger schools. With a small student body population and a limited amount of parent involvement, fundraising (the way schools pay for enrichment programs) is low. A parent representative from Community School spoke directly to Superintendent Holcomb and explained her frustration. She felt her child is not receiving the same enrichment opportunities as children at other area schools. Holcomb agreed it is an issue, and one that the School Department has considered. We discussed the ability for North Attleboro to offer enrichment programs district wide, versus only being funded by the PTO, as a way for all students to have the same opportunity for enrichment. Since the programs offered between the schools varies, we discussed the idea for Enrichment Coordinators from the different elementary schools to group together and share ideas. Holcomb will be meeting with PTO presidents soon and will bring this issue to the table.
Next BOSAC Meeting
February 10, 2017
Topic: Recap from Budget meeting and discuss topics addressed at the School Committee meeting