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Success!

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It is not without regret that we inform you that the North Middlesex Regional District has officially withdrawn from the Extended Learning Time Planning grant.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.

Sincerely,

[signed]

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
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