By Christopher Roberson
As they look ahead to the 2018-2019 school year, Tracy Smith, principal of Carroll Elementary School, and Jacqueline Orphanos, principal of Center Elementary School, on March 27 went before the School Committee to present their School Improvement Plans. During the committee’s March 27 meeting, Smith said that of the 623 students enrolled at Carroll, 44.5 percent of them come from families that are economically disadvantaged. For 16.7 percent, English is not their first language.
Smith also said that since September 2017, her school has gained 61 students and lost 56 students. To accommodate Carroll’s high student population, Smith said, there are five classes for each grade level through fourth grade as well as six fifth-grade classes. She also said that based on current projections, a sixth kindergarten class could be needed in the fall.
In addition, Smith said the results from the 2017 Next Generation MCAS were fairly consistent with the results from 2016; however, the fifth-grade scores did decrease on the science and technology/engineering section. The results indicated that the number of students in the Warning category increased from nine percent to 19 percent and the number of students in the Advanced category fell from 22 percent to 14 percent. The number of students in the Proficient and Needs Improvement categories were 35 percent and 33 percent, respectively, which is almost the same as the 2016 results.
Smith also said Google Classroom has an established presence at Carroll. “We’re really becoming a Google school,” she said. Other programs which are slated to continue include STAR Student of The Month, the BOKS Exercise Program, the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and the START Program for at-risk students.
Smith also shared one of her top budget requests. “We really need a building-based substitute at the Carroll,” she said.
Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Herbert Levine said that in the event a teacher has a family emergency or needs to meet with a parent, building-based substitute teachers can be called on to take responsibility for that classroom. Without building-based substitutes, Levine said, teachers have to rely on paraprofessionals, “specials” teachers or anyone else who happens to be available.
Orphanos said 402 students are enrolled at Center School this year. She said that for 15 percent of them, English is not their first language, 34.5 percent are economically disadvantaged and 48 percent have special needs, which is higher than the district and state averages.
In terms of class size, Orphanos said her average fifth-grade class has 25 students. “Our grade five is busting right now,” she said. For 2018-2109, she is projecting four kindergarten classes and four first-grade classes with an average class size of 17 students.
Orphanos said she is thrilled with the fifth-grade MCAS scores in science and technology/engineering. The results show that 59 percent of those students received scores in the Advanced and Proficient categories, which is a combined increase of 12 percent compared to 2016. The number of students in the Warning and Needs Improvement categories fell from 52 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2017. “That was a huge celebration,” said Orphanos, adding that the improved scores are due to the school’s Full Option Science System.
Looking at the budget, Orphanos said she would like to see the school’s feasibility study be approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. “We’re hoping our feasibility study may go through someday,” she said, adding that space constraints continue to get tighter.
New assistant superintendent hired
In other news, Dr. Levine said the committee voted in executive session to hire Dr. Christopher Lord as Peabody’s new assistant superintendent of schools. He is scheduled to start on July 1.
Dr. Lord is currently the principal at Leominster High School, a position he has held since 2015. He was also the principal at Andover High School and Shea High School in Pawtucket, R.I. Lord holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Tufts University and earned his Doctorate at the University of Connecticut.