More to a School Board member than "fiscal conservatism

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Postby Wayne » Sat Mar 31, 2007 8:57 am

uscitizen03054 wrote:we also know the stated agenda of the two candidates running for their seats drifts to that of fiscal constraint

And just what is that "stated agenda"? I've never heard it stated.
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:41 am

S as usual you did not address any of the points I made.

And please tell me why I should have to come up with evidence as to the lack of a candidate running for school board plan for improving education. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE RUNNING TO TELL US THAT!!!

Ken Coleman



Ken I have never attempted to link educational spending to academic results. I have asked for anyone advocating this position to show data correlating expenditures with student performance. I have yet to see this demonstrated in a far-reaching study. So if Merrimack spends above average or below average I don’t see this as germane to this debate. However, many local liberals in past educational debates made the case for increased spending and its necessity to improve education in Merrimack. Since the mid 1990s expenditures have soared without an accompanying increase in student performance. So we have hard data in Merrimack showing that increased spending does not yield higher academic performance. So moving forward to this election, it should be focused at the school board's accountability for delivering academic results. In this area, I am not satisfied the incumbents have done enough to warrant their being returned to the board.
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Postby JMac1000 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 12:47 pm

USC,

I cannot place primary blame on the school board for average, or below average test scores/academic performance. I believe the school board can play a role, but only has so much control over this. I will rank order what I think is the greatest predictor of high test score.

1. The Childs abilities
2. Parental involvement/interest (Which tends to be greater in wealthy communities) I would say a healthy amount of involvement. This does not mean "over involvement" If you look at where the high test scores are, they are in Hollis, Bedford, Amherst, ect. Generally speaking Merrimack is a working and middle class community.(There are exceptions, and I am talking a typical Merrimack resident is not wealthy)

3. Qualified, Experienced, motivated teachers.

4. Breadth and Depth of academic programs

5 A district that sets high standards, and at the same time has programs in place to help those struggling, and those that need a more rigorous program. This could include tutoring, or remedial classes, or on the flip side, honors programs.

Lets not forget Parents, and the child him/herself have primary responsiblilities for the educational development of their children. Some parents think they are "outsourcing" this, and they are not. I see nothing wrong with expecting parents getting together to donate, or chip in funds to have programs that go over and above what the community can afford, or as required by state and federal laws. I do believe that a rich amount of programing, and experienced teachers require money. THis need to be balanced with maintaining a reasonable tax burden.

I would like to see the school board get more creative with the resources we already have, while understanding certain costs do go up. This past budget season was a good start, with attemping to cut nearly 750k out of the budget, while maintaining programs. I did not want to see any further cuts at this time, but thought the 750k was a very well thought out plan, and while not a lot of money to the average taxpayer, it was a concerted effort. No one can say Merrimack is "cheap" when it comes to educating our kids. 59 million is a lot of money. Many in Merrimack will fund the schools even though they struggle to do so.
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 1:35 pm

I cannot place primary blame on the school board for average, or below average test scores/academic performance. I believe the school board can play a role, but only has so much control over this. I will rank order what I think is the greatest predictor of high test score.


Jamie I do agree but any successful organization has exemplary leadership and that is necessary for school systems as well. In addition, as simple uscitizen voting in the school board elections is really the only thing I can affect for our schools.

1. The Childs abilities


This goes without saying but I have to believe Merrimack's children have potential to be excellent students. It is the system’s duty to assure each child reaches his or her full potential. This task begins with the district's leadership.

2. Parental involvement/interest (Which tends to be greater in wealthy communities) I would say a healthy amount of involvement. This does not mean "over involvement" If you look at where the high test scores are, they are in Hollis, Bedford, Amherst, ect. Generally speaking Merrimack is a working and middle class community.(There are exceptions, and I am talking a typical Merrimack resident is not wealthy)


Jamie many low-income students have done well when the leadership of their school systems sets high expectations and follows through with what is needed for students to succeed. Please look at the article in the link.

http://www.heritage.org/Press/Commentary/ED042700.cfm


But across America, a growing number of schools are proving there is no excuse for this educational malpractice. P.S. 161 in Brooklyn, where the student body is 91 percent black and 98 percent low-income, recently came in second in the entire state of New York in sixth-grade reading. KIPP Academy in Houston is 90 percent Hispanic and 95 percent low-income, yet its math scores are among the highest of any middle school in Texas. At Portland Elementary in the impoverished Mississippi River Delta of rural Arkansas, sixth graders score in the 72nd percentile in reading and the 84th percentile in math on the Stanford-9 achievement test.

would like to see the school board get more creative with the resources we already have, while understanding certain costs do go up. This past budget season was a good start, with attemping to cut nearly 750k out of the budget, while maintaining programs. I did not want to see any further cuts at this time, but thought the 750k was a very well thought out plan, and while not a lot of money to the average taxpayer, it was a concerted effort. No one can say Merrimack is "cheap" when it comes to educating our kids. 59 million is a lot of money. Many in Merrimack will fund the schools even though they struggle to do so.


Jamie well said here and I guess your statements are why I seek new blood for the school board at this time.
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Postby Norman Phillips » Sat Mar 31, 2007 2:46 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:
Fighting the good fight against Liberals


Norm key to the statement above are the words good fight and against Liberals. In the case of the former, I hope to follow proper decorum when making my points. In the second phrase, I see liberals as misguided souls who need to be vigorously challenged.


But you ignore your concomitant failing----"Fighting the good fight against liberals--WHILE IGNORING THE MANY SERIOUS FAILINGS BY "CONSERVATIVES".
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Postby mmoy » Sat Mar 31, 2007 3:02 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:
S as usual you did not address any of the points I made.

And please tell me why I should have to come up with evidence as to the lack of a candidate running for school board plan for improving education. IT IS UP TO THE PEOPLE RUNNING TO TELL US THAT!!!

Ken Coleman



Ken I have never attempted to link educational spending to academic results. I have asked for anyone advocating this position to show data correlating expenditures with student performance. I have yet to see this demonstrated in a far-reaching study. So if Merrimack spends above average or below average I don’t see this as germane to this debate. However, many local liberals in past educational debates made the case for increased spending and its necessity to improve education in Merrimack. Since the mid 1990s expenditures have soared without an accompanying increase in student performance. So we have hard data in Merrimack showing that increased spending does not yield higher academic performance. So moving forward to this election, it should be focused at the school board's accountability for delivering academic results. In this area, I am not satisfied the incumbents have done enough to warrant their being returned to the board.


I recall reading about New Jersey's experiments in education back in the 1990s with the reallocation of money from rich districts to poor districts and the differences in the amount of spending were huge.

I'm pretty sure that the article was from Education Week which I used to read.

The implication from the article that it takes a LOT of money to make up for not having a full-time parent at home.
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Postby andysinnh » Sat Mar 31, 2007 3:12 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:Jamie well said here and I guess your statements are why I seek new blood for the school board at this time.

So, USC, you said a few replies ago you were going to find out Jenn and Dan's ideas on supporting your need for improved education - any word on that one yet? I'm still not sure they're the right solution to your view of the problem....

But, frankly, I'm surprised you haven't decided to "take the bull by the horns" and try running for SB yourself. Ever given it any thought? From what you've said in the past, I'd imagine most anyone else might not adequately represent your views on how we should move forward. Otherwise, it's likely that each election you'd support "newer" blood if your expectations aren't met. Unless there's something else on the table here....

andy
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Postby GregRS » Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:18 pm

andysinnh wrote:
uscitizen03054 wrote:Jamie well said here and I guess your statements are why I seek new blood for the school board at this time.

So, USC, you said a few replies ago you were going to find out Jenn and Dan's ideas on supporting your need for improved education - any word on that one yet? I'm still not sure they're the right solution to your view of the problem....

But, frankly, I'm surprised you haven't decided to "take the bull by the horns" and try running for SB yourself. Ever given it any thought? From what you've said in the past, I'd imagine most anyone else might not adequately represent your views on how we should move forward. Otherwise, it's likely that each election you'd support "newer" blood if your expectations aren't met. Unless there's something else on the table here....

andy


Hey wait a sec ... I thought he had already been on the board ... in the mid-90s
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Postby JMac1000 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:05 pm

USC,

As a follow up to your post, there are MANY Seniors that come out of MHS and go to to top schools. In fact, if you look at the annual write up in the Journal of the kids that finish in the top 10 in the class, I would put them up against kids in any district bar none. My only point was that if you look at test scores throughout the state, its not a secret that Bedford, or Amherst kids score very high, and towns such as Franklin score very low. My only other point is that there is a correlation between income and academic success. This does not mean that there are many execptions to the rule, such as those you pointed out. I think Merrimack is a good school district, and just as any district there is room for improvement. It would be great to lose the DINI label, as anyone looking to move here, of course, perception becomes reality. However, I cannot pin most of the blame on the school board. There are many other factors.
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Postby Gina Rosati » Sat Mar 31, 2007 6:50 pm

Okay, USC, you were looking from some 'data' from me. First of all, I stand corrected ... apparently, Merrimack educates only slightly more Special Education students than the average town tested. That said, you were looking for information regarding the NECAP trends. Since you are data driven, I will retype the entire letter that came home from school from the State of New Hampshire Department of Education, dated March 5, 2007:

Dear Merrimack School District Parent:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the status of your school district with respect to state testing results. You may know that your district was identified as a district in need of improvement in 2005 in the area of Reading, based on 2003 and 2004 state testing results. State and federal school accountability laws (Section 6316(c) of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (PL 107-110) and New Hampshire RSA 193-H) require the New Hampshire Department of Education to identify for improvement districts not making Adequate yearly Progress (AYP) for two consecutive years in the same content area in each level existing within the district (elementary/middle and/or high school). We are pleased to report that your district made AYP based on 2005 assessment data. If the Merrimack School district again makes AYP when state results are released in June, it will no longer be designated as being in need of improvement.

AYP is a measure that all states use to determine if schools and districts are meeting the high expectations for student performance set forth in state and federal accountability law. These expectations include the percent of students participating in the annual state assessment, the percent of students meeting the state performance targets for reading and mathematics, as well as performance targets for attendance and graduation rates.

The state and your district's current AYP reports are available on the New Hampshire Department of Education website at http://www.ed.state.nh.us .

2006 District AYP Determination Based on 2005 Assessment Results for Elementary/Middle and High School:

Met Participation Goal - Yes
Met Mathmatics Goal - Yes
Met Reading Goal - Yes
Met Attendance Rate? - Yes
Met Graduation Rate? - Yes
Made AYP? Yes

Data has been calculated for all students as well as subgroups of students (i.e., racial and ethnic groups, English language learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students). If even one of these groups does not meet their goad, or performance target, then the district will not have made AYP (NOTE: Only groups larger than 11 are counted). When the data from all schools within the district is combined at the district level, it is a challenge for the district to make AYP.

As a District identified for improvement, the Merrimack School District developed and has begun to implement an Improvement Plan in consultation with school staff and parents. As a parent, you are a critical partner in school and district improvement. Please keep informed about all school and district improvement initiatives. Currently, the District is involved in four important initiatives related to improvement of literacy:

1. Identify and begin to implement a research-based framework for reading instruction based on a common understanding of best practice and the recognition that academic achievement is dependent upon effective literacy instruction.
2. Align instruction with the state Language Arts standards, Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) and Grade Span Expectations (GSEs).
3. Research, identify, purchase and implement use of appropriate comprehensive and consistent formative and summative reading assessments at each grade level in the district.
4. Identify and begin to implement consistent and continuous intervention and remediation strategies to target student needs.

Information is available by contacting the Superintendent/SAU office or on the District website http://www.merrimack.k12.nh.us . If you wish to help with these activities, please speak to your building principal to find out what opportunities are available.

The State Department of Education is proud of our ongoing partnerships with New Hampshire schools. Together, we will work to provide opportunities for success for each New Hampshire student.

Further, USC, as mentioned in a letter dated also dated 3/5/07 from Assistant Superintendant Deborah Woelflein,

"Teachers will analyze the NECAP scores to help them determine the instructional needs of their students. We will use this data to design and provide appropriate supports for children and changes to our curriculum, instruction and assessments. The NECAP results are just one measure to reflect how our children and our schools are doing. We will also consider teacher assessments, community involvement, attendance and graduation rates, school safety, discipline records, and other tools to help us determine the effectiveness of our curriculum and instruction. We currently have an assessment subcommittee researching a variety of tools to help us to determine how well our students are learning important skills and content. During the 2005-6 school year, four subcommittees researched, analyzed and planned for improvements in the way that we deliver literacy instruction in the Merrimack School District. You may learn about their work on our district website:
http://www.merrimack.k12.nh.us/policies/policies.htm "

So, I'll repeat myself ... ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY. We are making slow and steady progress. This was addressed at one of the school board meetings recently by Deborah Woelflein, who spoke to the rationale that the entire process will take time, and that the methodology is geared towards permanent, sustainable improvement. The plan is in place, and sure, if you vote Jen and Dan in this year, they'll look like they've done a great job next year when we do well, but it will be because of the work Emily and Rose have done this year and last.

I suggest if you have more questions regarding the NECAP scores, you contact Deborah Woelflein directly. She can be reached at 424-6200.

You had one more question for me regarding my comment on school board members with 'laser beam focus'. The rules of the forum are clear to me, and I will not single out any one person in particular to disparage, but I invite everyone reading this forum to watch the school board meetings and judge for themselves which members have 'laser beam focus' and which do not. Further, judge for yourself which have 'laser beam focus' for only one issue and which members are comfortable discussing the wide range of issues facing the school board and the district.

Since I'm a rookie to the forum, just for kicks, I scrolled back to read some of your many, many posts. Very interesting. If I believed in reincarnation, I would have you pegged in another life as a Knight Templar. You are quite the crusader. You are obviously a highly intelligent person with some interesting views. Reading your posts is like working on a 7,000 piece puzzle. Speaking of 7,000, you have an anniversary coming up. Any excuse for a party! :D
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Sat Mar 31, 2007 10:15 pm

Gina please don't think my cyber oratory directed at Merrimack schools is a blanket assessment that they are dysfunctional. I see much good work from faculty and students here in Merrimack. Nevertheless, I would like to see change especially in the area of accountability up and down the chain. From the lowly teacher’s aid to the school board people must be measured based on academic success of Merrimack students. To implement accountability I would like to see teachers and administrators cooperatively develop quantifiable criteria by which individuals working within the system would be measured. I would also like to see compensation tied to successful achievement of the standards for those who draw a paycheck from the Merrimack school district. I have not seen this type of attitude from the two incumbents and this fact is leading me not to support their reelection.
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Postby Gina Rosati » Sun Apr 01, 2007 10:37 am

You said you've seen much good work from the faculty and students here in Merrimack. I'm curious what you're looking at. Are you looking at sheets of data, NECAP scores, documentation only? Are you in the schools on a regular basis, observing and interacting with faculty and students? It's a much different view depending on on your vantage point. I believe you need to look at both to see the big picture.

Have you discussed your concerns with Rose and Emily? Are you planning to attend candidate's night? How do you know they aren't gathering information from other districts to compare?

I'm dating myself here, but I have an old vinyl LP called "The Point". It's part narrative, part music. The lyrics in one of the songs have stuck with me for many years because they are so true ... "you see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear." And that's the point. I've read enough of your past posts to believe that you walk on the far right side of the road. You are a diehard fiscal conservative. You obviously have experience in the educational field, as not many people use terms such as SpecEd and 1.0 correlation. And judging by the article in the Telegraph today, you and Jennifer Twardosky are parallel in your ideas. Your previous post is a very wordy version of Jenn's statement in the paper today, saying "We need accountability and we should have the top test scores in the state."

We all want accountability and we all want improvement in scores. If you haven't seen this type of attitude from Rose and Emily, then you are seeing what you want to see.
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sun Apr 01, 2007 11:12 am

From McCray's LTE

Jen and Dan believe that education must be paid for but they also believe that teachers, students and parents must also pull their weight. Accountability is paramount to a first-rate education.


I couldn't agree more.

I have said this before. Does anyone actually believe people would willfully damage our school system?
REPUBLICAN - BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE CAN BE ON WELFARE
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Postby Gina Rosati » Sun Apr 01, 2007 1:14 pm

In answer to your question, Jeanine, yes, I've seen a couple of people on this forum who really could care less about the school system. That's not to imply that Jen and Dan don't care about the school system or want to hurt it, but intentions are subjective. I've found some of the motions Jen has made on the school budget committee (an example is below) would be very damaging if they had passed. I think it helps to look at what they have to offer and past history.

Here you have two people who say they have the desire to work the 20 or more hours a week to help our schools succeed. That's great, because that's a huge time commitment. One has a background in political science and one has a background in kinesiology (I admit I had to look it up ... it means the study of the mechanics of body movements.) The only school experience either has is having kids in school, and Jen has the school volunteer experience of being a homeroom mother, which requires her to be in the school for about 6 hours a year. If she has other experience as a volunteer, I encourage her to share that with us at candidate's night.

At one of the budget committee meetings, Jen made a motion to cut all elementary library assistants. She had no data to back this motion, other than she believes there is a huge volunteer pool that will pick up the slack, and her son says he only spends 15 minutes a week picking out a book in the library so she has assumed that's what every other child in the school does. I know your feeling about volunteers, Jeanine, but the fact is that I volunteer ten hours a week at the school libraries and I know the library assistants are necessary to running the library. I have the experience and data to make this statement. If anyone would like a copy of the library assistant job description, I would be happy to email it to them. I can also provide the number of students that use the library each day since last September, if necessary. Without assistants, you may as well shut the library down. Volunteers will not pick up the slack. The librarian cannot handle the responsibilities of both positions. This situation leaves me to wonder ... would she hurt the school district unintentionally just by not having the needed experience and ability to integrate the data she finds into a plan that will help Merrimack. Does she have what it takes to negotiate with the state, with union leaders, with the town? Does Dan? Do we believe that schools are one size fits all, and whatever Londonderry spends should work for us? It's great to look at other towns to get ideas, and it's great to get data, but what do you do with it once you get those pages of numbers? I'm sure Emily and Rose are open to suggestions, but once the suggestions are on the table, will Jen and Dan know how to implement them into our district for cost savings that won't damage our schools. Do they understand how to determine whether a teacher is doing their job or not? How do you decide ... based on test scores, based on your child's input, based on what, exactly?

Nope, I haven't seen anything in the newspaper recently that's changed my mind. I'm still voting for Emily and Rose.
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Postby Michael Thompson » Sun Apr 01, 2007 4:34 pm

Unfortunately I have not been able to follow what each individual member of the board has been doing. I was wondering what accomplishments outside of cuts to the budget Markwell has performed.

Is there someone that knows of any? Again I state that I haven't followed the individual accomplishments.
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