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posted Oct 28, 2008, 6:17 PM by John Anderson

The following letter was brought home today by our 7 year-old:

[on NMRSD letterhead]

October 28, 2008

Dear Parents and Guardians:

It is not without regret that we inform you that the North Middlesex Regional District has officially withdrawn from the Extended Learning Time Planning grant.  The faculty, administration, and parents of both Squannacook Elementary School and Varnum Brook Elementary School had envisioned providing opportunities, challenges, and enrichment through the funds to our students, but both schools have decided not to continue.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) would have allowed VBES to have "a school within a school," but only for one year.  In the second year, full participation of all students would have been required.

As we had told parents, we would withdraw from the grants unless parents had a choice every year.  Thus, on October 10, 2008, we informed the ESE that we were officially withdrawing from the grant.  We have sent them a letter of withdrawal and requested that they remove Varnum Brook Elementary School from the pool of grant applicants.

Although they were disappointed and noted that the grant application had been carefully done, and [sic] they told us that they appreciated our contribution to the discussions that we attended across the state.  We had said that the grant had been effective in urban centers, but we questioned whether its terms might not [sic] need to be modified for suburban and rural areas that may have different values, needs, and strengths.  Although they had considered our request for a "school-within-a-school," they said that the grant as it was now written did not have that option.

They were emphatic as they told us that our concerns will be taken to the Commissioner of Education.

Some very good results have taken place because of the planning process itself.  The current leadership was the first elementary school to establish a professional learning community for teachers.  During their first year, Mr. Slavik and Mrs. Hanley have created new school vision and mission statements and collaboratively devised a five year plan to shift the school to become a magnet style school with a focus on mathematics, science and technology.  A partnership was developed with Lantheus Corporation for the purpose of having science days at the school.  Parent and teacher advisory committees were established and now meet on a monthly basis.  Also, parent communication was improved through bi-monthly newsletters and important information was emailed to parents.

As a result of what they have learned from this year-long process, the faculty and staff at VBES continue their enthusiastic support of the possible changes in opportunities that their school might offer students in the future.

We thank you for your feedback and involvement and hope that we can continue to work together to improve our school.



Maureen M. Marshall
Superintendent of Schools

I would like to thank all the people who got involved in PAELT for a job well done.  And well wishes to other communities as they also work to keep ELT out of their schools.

John Anderson

We're still in the news...

posted Oct 1, 2008, 6:25 PM by John Anderson

An article in the Lowell Sun mentions PAELT specifically when reporting about ELT at Varnum Brook.  If it is archived, you can find it in our news section.

Fiona and I apologize for not getting back to the reporter; a child checked messages and forgot to tell us about it.  I think the website speaks for itself.

Thanks go out to all the people who made supportive comments after the article.

Meeting Notes

posted Aug 29, 2008, 10:06 AM by John Anderson   [ updated Aug 29, 2008, 10:13 AM ]

The meeting was held on Monday, August 25th, and the bottom line is that Dr. Marshall believes that the ELT grant for VBES is not going to happen, as the school district submitted the proposal insisting on parents being allowed to opt-out for their children.  Press coverage of the meeting can be found here and here if first link has been archived

Meeting Location Moved

posted Aug 19, 2008, 7:06 AM by John Anderson

The location for the meeting with Dr. Marshall has been moved to Nissitissit Middle School (33 Chace Avenue, Pepperell, MA).  The time and date are still the same, 4PM to 5PM on August 25th.

PAELT is featured twice in the Pepperell Free Press today

posted Aug 15, 2008, 5:07 PM by John Anderson   [ updated Aug 15, 2008, 5:37 PM ]

The online version of the headline story can be found here.  Our copy can be found here if online story is archived.

There are a couple of minor errors in the article:
  • The meeting with Dr. Marshall is on August 25th, not the 28th.  Details here.
  • Hillary's last name is Pember.
  • Fiona Anderson is concerned that her children will have to drop out of their extracurricular activities, not school.
  • Ellen's last name is Marcoux.
Also, Jonna Clermont's Letter to the Editor was also published today.  Our copy can be found here if online story is archived.

Letters Needed to Sarah McLaughlin at MA DOE

posted Aug 11, 2008, 10:04 AM by Fiona Anderson

We have discovered that the person reviewing the application will be Sarah McLaughlin, MA DOE, 350 Main St 5th fl, Malden, MA  02148; 781-338-3589; email smclaughlin@doe.mass.edu
Any letters she receives before 8/15/08 will be included in the review, so send letters ASAP!  She says that any parental non-support of this grant should be considered with the grant application.

Meeting with Dr. Marshall August 25th at 4:00!!!!

posted Aug 7, 2008, 5:34 AM by Web Master   [ updated Aug 19, 2008, 7:11 AM by John Anderson ]

We have a meeting with Dr. Marshall on Monday, August 25th, at 4:00 pm, at Nissitissit Middle School (33 Chace Avenue, Pepperell, MA) in the Auditorium.  This is our chance to voice our concerns and present the petitions, so please come, and please spread the word about the importance of attending this meeting.

First Meeting Notes

posted Aug 6, 2008, 7:14 PM by John Anderson

About 25 people showed up with a reporter from Pepperell Free Press in attendance as well.  Those who could not show up were clogging the library's front desk with calls as to how the meeting was progressing.  Many concerns were voiced, as well as many good ideas were proposed.  We will be adding sections about those ideas as they are developed.  Some of the highlights include:
  • Circulating emails (over 100 individuals) seem to contradict "survey" results
  • Overwhelming concern about lack of adequate communication to affected parents about ELT program implications and consequences
    • Impression was that communications were sent to parents of students leaving the affected grades, more than the parents of the incoming students
  • Many reported that requests that an informational letter to every affected parent detailing ELT were declined
  • Many attendees were eager to picket Dr. Marshall's office and/or circulate petitions
  • Interest expressed in obtaining a copy of the grant proposal submitted to the state
  • Interest expressed into determining how and why other communities have rejected ELT programs
The meeting ended at about 5:30 with many attendees leaving with copies of the petition to circulate.

First Meeting

posted Aug 6, 2008, 12:25 PM by John Anderson   [ updated Aug 6, 2008, 12:28 PM ]

Our first meeting is August 6th at the Lawrence Library on Main Street from 4PM to 6PM.  All parents who are opposed to ELT are welcome to attend.

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