Malden Public Schools enrollment remains steady; key issue when it comes to state funding
A lengthy presentation was made by top Malden Public Schools (MPS) officials at Monday night’s School Committee meeting on the status and future of the Accelerated and Enriched Academic Program (AEAP).
At the conclusion of the presentation, which was fueled by about two years of debate and concern expressed by MPS parents and school officials alike, second-year Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ligia Noriega-Murphy reviewed the results and made a recommendation that several speakers earlier in the meeting did not want to hear. The Superintendent said that after weighing all information and options, it was the MPS administration’s recommendation that the AEAP program be discontinued.
Instead of a vote being taken on that recommendation and the AEAP’s future, however, the issue was tabled on a motion by Ward 2 School Committee Member Jennifer Spadafora, who said she was not satisfied “that all the questions have been answered.” Addressing the statements made regarding new curriculum offerings in the target grades served by AEAP in the K-8 range, as well as plans for an additional Honors program offering in some of those grades, Spadafora said, “I would like to see more information on what we’re offering in the classroom.”
Ward 6 School Committee Member Joseph Gray was emphatic on his support for the program, citing his personal status as an immigrant who sought similar academic enrichment when he was a student. “Coming from a family of immigrants, this [AEAP program] is what we want when you are a poor immigrant,” Gray said. “This is what our parents told us to grab for as a student, every opportunity to be better. It is a ‘that was me’ moment.”
Ward 8 School Committee Member Sharon Rose-Zeiberg, who worked with school officials on researching the AEAP for the presentation, said, “I am dismayed at where this went. Some are saying we are not reaching all of our kids and we are missing kids performing above grade level. Maybe some kids are testing well but not performing in the classroom,” Zeiberg said. “There are other models across the state we could look at [to see if they would fit here].”
Supt. Noriega-Murphy said that more information on what Spadafora had requested would be provided at the next School Committee meeting in March.
“The Honors program will be a valuable addition to the K-8 curriculum – pathway to the high school,” Supt. Noriega-Murphy said, “and it will be happening in every school, not just limited to one.
“We have models in place already in every school where all teachers are educating students with a rigorous curriculum,” the Superintendent added.
A final decision on the future of the AEAP program in now expected at the Monday, March 6 School Committee meeting.
Enrollment is up in the Malden Public Schools; cited as key factor during Chapter 70 state funding presentation
Malden School Committee Members Adam Weldai (Ward 5) and Keith Bernard (Ward 7) both stressed the importance of accurate, up-to-date Malden Public Schools enrollment numbers when it comes to determining the Chapter 70 state funding formula allotment to Malden.
“There is concern over the timing of the numbers. October 1 is the current reporting date for the next year’s funding, and that is too early due to the fluctuations that take place,” Bernard said at the meeting. “Maybe an alternative method could be devised or created to make the numbers more accurate so we don’t take a hit on funding.”
For example, Malden Public Schools enrollment as of this week is 6,464 students with approximately 26 more students awaiting processing and enrollment. There were 6,391 students enrolled on October 1.
“The October 1 [enrollment] date to be reported is not accurate,” Weldai said. “Sometimes students are forced to move back-and-forth between districts due to housing insecurity.”
“There is also manipulation around that date, particularly by the charter schools,” Weldai said. “They collect the reimbursement money from communities and keep it, but then right after October 1 the public schools in the respective communities are inundated with transfers from the charter schools and our [enrollment] numbers change, and it can affect our Chapter 70 funding.”