Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

May 22, 2014

Superintendent Jeff Young’s 2011-15 contract requires School Committee renewal before July 6, 2014

Filed under: Cambridge,School Committee,schools — Tags: , , , , — Robert Winters @ 7:00 pm

Superintendent Jeff Young’s 2011-15 contract requires School Committee renewal before July 6, 2014

Superintendent Jeff Young[contributed by Anita D. McClellan and posted on the CPSParents listserv]

Cambridge public school families may be surprised to learn that many school districts open up their Superintendents’ annual evaluation on leadership performance to rating and comments from district parents, teachers, K-12 students, and residents.

In Burlington, MA, District Superintendent Eric Conti’s Blog posts an evaluation survey for 30 days every May so district parents, teachers, K-12 students, and residents can contribute their 2¢ to the School Committee’s evaluation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014ContiEvaluation.

Dr. Conti also posts the passwords required for anyone to access past years’ Burlington Supt. evaluations and comments: http://ericconti.wordpress.com.

Isn’t it time for Cambridge Public School District – and our 2014 & 2015 School Committee – to emulate Burlington District and to inaugurate PDQ for 2014 an open annual SC evaluation of our Superintendent that takes into account leadership ratings and comments from District parents, teachers, students, and residents?

It would be very quick for 2014 Supt. evaluation to adapt the Burlington Supt. online evaluation survey to CPSD’s needs https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014ContiEvaluation so results from Cambridge parents, teachers, students, residents can be factored into the SC’s early July vote on whether or not to renew Dr. Young’s contract through 2018.

After the current contract renewal deadline, the SC can develop its own Supt. online evaluation for the Cambridge public to use in 2015 and thereafter.

Anita McClellan, VL

P.S. Burlington MA District offers a series of District blogs to keep community informed on many educational fronts. Wonderful to have such good communications! Find them on http://ericconti.wordpress.com/ in the righthand column on homepage.

Go here for the Burlington Asst. Supt. of Learning’s blog: http://www.patrickmlarkin.com/

The Burlington District Spec Ed Dept. also surveys public on its performance: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1l_JgxApXnrmg3QqO_zNW0qDndTQ4t7BmnAEhaZDsxOg/viewform

FYI: Jeff Young has served under School Committee as Superintendent since July 6, 2009. He reports directly to the School Committee. Contract is here: http://rwinters.com/school/JeffYoungContract2011-15.htm

Supt. Duties and Responsibilities.

A. The Superintendent shall diligently, faithfully, professionally and competently perform the duties and responsibilities of the Superintendent of Schools; shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the School District, as provided in M.G.L. c. 71, §59 and all other applicable laws and regulations pertaining to public education in Massachusetts; and shall be responsible to direct, organize and manage the school system, in conformity with the requirements of M.G.L. c. 71 and all other applicable federal and state statutes and regulations pertaining to public education, and in conformity with the rules and policy determinations of the Committee. The Superintendent also shall fulfill all of the terms and conditions of this Agreement. The Superintendent shall be the Chief Education Officer of the District.

B. Except as otherwise required by the Superintendent’s duties, the Superintendent shall attend all Committee meetings and shall provide administrative recommendations on each item of business involving the administration of the Public Schools or education matters.

C. The Superintendent recognizes that the proper performance of his duties and responsibilities will require him to work longer than the school day and that his duties and responsibilities are not confined to prescribed hours.

D. The relationship between the Committee and the Superintendent shall be based on a deep commitment to working cooperatively for the benefit of the children and the general community served by the Cambridge Public Schools, and it shall reflect a clear understanding that the Committee is the establishing agent of all school system policy and that the Superintendent has the responsibility to administer said policy in a sound, fair and ethical manner.

E. The Superintendent shall have authority, subject to law and any legally binding contracts of the School District, to organize, reorganize and arrange the administrative and supervisory staff in such a way as, in his best judgment, best serves the School District, subject to approval by the Committee.

F. In its discretion, the Committee will refer to the Superintendent any criticisms, complaints and situations that are brought to its attention and which the Committee deems important enough to warrant the Superintendent’s attention. The Superintendent shall review and make recommendations on any matters referred to him by the Committee.

November 13, 2013

CRLS Alumni Association Project Announces First Annual Alumni Meeting and 2013 Homecoming Events

Filed under: Cambridge,schools — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 10:54 pm

CRLS Alumni Association Project Announces First Annual Alumni Meeting and 2013 Homecoming Events

Nov 10 – The CRLS Alumni Association Project has been building support for the launch of an Alumni Association for all graduates and staff from Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, Rindge Tech, and Cambridge High & Latin School and has collected over 600 signatures supporting this effort. On Friday, Nov. 29 there will be the First Annual Alumni Association Meeting from 11:00am-12:30pm at CRLS. A interim Alumni Board will be selected. The meeting is open to all graduates and retired staff of CRLS, Rindge Tech, and CHLS. Tours of the renovated high school will also be available before the meeting starting at 10:00am and after starting at12:30pm.

The CRLS Alumni Association Project has also announced a series of Homecoming 2013 Events. All Alumni, staff and families from CRLS, Rindge Tech and CHLS are welcome:

  • Nov 27 – Open House at CRLS from 10:00am to 12 Noon with tours of the new facilities and meeting with Principal Damon Smith
  • Nov 27 – Alumni Reunion Night at Tommy Doyle’s, 8:00pm until closing. Free Hors D’oeuvres from 8-10:00pm. Cash Bar. All classes, all schools and guests welcome! Tommy Doyle’s, 96 Winthrop Street
  • Nov 28 – Pre-game Tailgate and Football Game vs. Somerville. Hospitality starts at 8:30am. Kickoff at 10:00am at Russell Field
  • Dec 6 – The Fall Musical "Rag Time" at 7:00pm. Alumni are encouraged to attend the Friday night performance at the CRLS Fitzgerald Theater. Reception immediately following performance in the Media Café at CRLS.

Please register for events (most are free) at: crlshomecoming2013.eventbrite.com. For more information about any of these events please contact Andy Farrar at 978-764-7566/af@handsontoys.com or David Vogel at davidgvogel@yahoo.com.

October 28, 2013

School Committee Candidates Respond to PANGEA Questions

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections,School Committee — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 12:04 pm

P A N G E A
Parents for a Global Education Association

Dear Cambridge Families,

Six of the nine (6 of 9) School Committee candidates participated in our forum on World Languages: Fran Cronin, Alfred Fantini, John Holland, Elechi Kadete, Patricia Nolan, and Mervan Osborne. One (1) candidate responded that she was a strong advocate for world languages, but was not able to answer the questions: Joyce Gerber. Two (2) candidates did not respond: Richard Harding and Kathleen Kelly.

We are grateful to have received responses from 6 candidates. We have enclosed these here in alphabetical order.

You can also find them on PANGEA’s website under latest updates: www.pangeacambridge.com

We have reached out to all the candidates and are hopeful that other responses will soon follow. If you know any of the candidates who have not responded and desire to hear their opinions on these issues, we’d encourage you to reach out to them and ask for their responses.

When we receive further responses, we will forward them along.

Sincerely,
Paul Ciampa, PANGEA member
Jane Chiang, PANGEA member

Fran Cronin responses (2 pg. PDF)

Fred Fantini responses (6 pg. PDF)

John Holland responses (4 pg. PDF)

Elechi Kadete responses (5 pg. PDF)

Patricia Nolan responses (11 pg. PDF)

Mervan Osborne responses (2 pg. PDF)

PANGEA is an organization of parents and community members advocating for the development, support, and promotion of language immersion programs in Cambridge for all children. We believe that effective cross-cultural and communication skills are integral to a global education. Language immersion programs are one way to fill that need. Strong world language programs can also provide these skills. Families should have the option of choosing the model that best fits their circumstances.

September 26, 2013

PANGEA request for questions to be directed to Cambridge School Committee candidates

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,School Committee — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 10:01 am

Sept 26 – PANGEA (Parents for a Global Education Association), a new parent group, has made the following request for questions to be directed to Cambridge School Committee candidates. They would like to get questions no later than Oct 7 and plan to publicize candidate responses by Oct 24. (Questions can be sent to info@pangeacambridge.com):

Dear Cambridge Families,
We feel that world languages are an important part of an elementary education. Over the past few years, there has been a vigorous debate around exactly what type of language instruction the City will provide. Given the upcoming election, we feel that it is important to ask specific questions of the candidates and request their written responses. To this end, we are reaching out to the Cambridge community to see what questions they’d like to ask the candidates for School Committee on this issue. If you have a question you’d like to ask, please email us at info@pangeacambridge.com or send us a letter in the mail to: Jane Chiang, 245 First Street, Suite 1800-18020113, Cambridge, MA 02142

ALL QUESTIONS NEED TO BE IN OUR HANDS BY OCTOBER 7 TO BE CONSIDERED FOR INCLUSION.

We will read through these questions, and from these responses, send a list of questions to the candidates. We will then aggregate their responses, send them to the broader Cambridge community, and post them on PANGEA’s website: www.pangeacambridge.com.

We’d note that not every question sent to us may be submitted to the candidates. We will attempt to capture the key themes/questions that reflect the community as a whole.

Thank you.
Paul Ciampa, PANGEA member
Jane Chiang, PANGEA member

PANGEA (Parents for a Global Education Association) is an organization of parents and community members advocating for the development, support, and promotion of language immersion programs based on best practices in Cambridge for all children. We believe that effective cross-cultural and communication skills are integral to a global education. Language immersion programs are one way to fill that need. Strong world language programs can also provide these skills.

September 18, 2013

Episode 4 of Cambridge InsideOut – Big Issues in the 2013 School Committee election

Filed under: 2013 Election,Cambridge,elections,School Committee,schools — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 4:30 pm

Episode 4 of Cambridge InsideOut – Big Issues in the 2013 School Committee election.
This episode aired on Sept 17, 2013.

June 17, 2013

MLK School Groundbreaking – June 17, 2013

Filed under: Cambridge,schools — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 5:10 pm

MLK School Groundbreaking

June 17, 2013 – City and School Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School & Putnam Avenue Upper School Monday, June 17. The existing structure at 100 Putnam Ave., Cambridge will be replaced with a new energy efficient NET ZERO building design. The final construction phase shall begin following final project bids due in December 2013 and occupancy is scheduled for September 2015.

June 13, 2013

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School & Putnam Avenue Upper School Groundbreaking Ceremony – Monday, June 17 at noon

Filed under: Cambridge,schools — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 12:41 am

Cambridge, MA — The City of Cambridge will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School & Putnam Avenue Upper School Monday, June 17, at 12:00pm, 100 Putnam Ave. (rear), Cambridge.
Note on Directions: Please access site from Kinnaird St. or Hayes St. only. Please do not use Magee St. This is an active construction site so please stay inside marked barriers for your safety.

Project Background
In July 2012, the city’s project architect, Perkins Eastman, presented City officials with its Feasibility Study for the new Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Construction Project. Three options were considered and the final decision was to replace the existing structure with a new energy efficient NET ZERO building design. During the design phases, the occupants participated in the building programming, which included education of what a NET ZERO design consists of, and why their actions when using the building will help control the energy consumption. This design is scheduled to be completed for bid in early Fall 2013.

The Construction Manager at Risk, the Rich-Caulfield Venture, began abatement of hazardous materials and demolition in April 2013. These activities should be completed by the end of October 2013. The construction start date for the foundations, steel and geothermal wells is anticipated for early Fall 2013. The final construction phase shall begin following final project bids due in December 2013 and occupancy is scheduled for September 2015. The present total project costs approved by the City Council in September 2012 was $84,550,000. Design features of the 187,000 square foot building and indoor parking garage include:

  • Geothermal Wells which extract heat from the ground thus helping keep energy costs low;
  • Daylight Harvesting which includes glass and other design elements that enable natural light to pass through the building;
  • Automatic Lighting Dimmer System which helps conserve energy use;
  • Gray Water Storage System which helps conserve water use;
  • 30 kBtu/sf/year which describes the building’s energy use and efficiency performance. The average K-12 school in America has an efficiency rating of 169 kBtu/sf/year. This design goal of 30 kBtu/sf/year means the new school will be 82% more efficient than the average American school.

The school will contain all new facilities and equipment for its classrooms, library, auditorium, gymnasium, community rooms, new outdoor play space and improved parking. For project updates, visit the Martin Luther King Construction Project Webpage, http://www.cambridgema.gov/cmanager/mlkjrschoolconstruction.aspx.

May 20, 2013

Merry Month of May – Cambridge City Council May 20, 2013 Agenda Highlights

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council,cycling,School Committee — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 12:00 am

Merry Month of May – Cambridge City Council May 20, 2013 Agenda Highlights

Amidst the flowering trees and the birds and the bees, springtime also brings the annual City Budget to the peaceful garden of Cambridge. The Big News is that the School Department Budget was not passed by the City Council’s Finance Committee amidst suggestions that important questions asked were not being answered. The 3-4-1-1 vote at the May 9 Budget Hearing [YES – Decker, Maher, Davis; NO – Simmons, Kelley, Cheung, vanBeuzekom; PRESENT – Toomey; ABSENT: Reeves] means that on the night when the final vote on the FY2014 Budget was expected to occur, the largest single component of the budget ($151 million) remains in committee. There appears to be trouble in the garden.

This might have been resolved on May 16 when there was a scheduled meeting of the Finance Committee if necessary, but Finance Committee Chair Marjorie Decker canceled that meeting. Instead of an actual meeting, we’ve been treated to a flurry of letters by city councillors and School Committee members posted here and on the Cambridge Chronicle website. [Mcgovern/Harding (May 13); Davis (May 13); vanBeuzekom (May 14); Cheung (May 14); Decker (May 15); Cheung, Kelley, Reeves, Simmons (May 16 and on this agenda); and Simmons (May 17).] Monday’s meeting agenda is interesting in that there are proposed policy orders that are incompatible. One order calls for the School Committee budget to be released from the Finance Committee and the unresolved issues discussed at a joint Roundtable meeting after the Budget is passed. The other order calls for the Finance Committee Chair to schedule a meeting of the committee before June 3 to resolve these matters prior to the Budget being passed by the City Council. The School Committee is not involved in these votes, but the co-chairs of their Budget Committee, Richard Harding and Marc McGovern, have been quite outspoken in characterizing the City Council’s actions as "reckless."

Here are the agenda items related to the current impasse:

Order #1. That the School Department budget be discharged from the Finance Committee and be referred to the full City Council for adoption at the City Council meeting of May 20, 2013.   Mayor Davis and Councillor Decker

Order #9. That the City Council schedule a Roundtable Meeting on June 10, 2013 at 5:30pm to meet with the School Committee members, the Superintendent of Schools and the School Department as a follow-up meeting to discuss issues raised in the FY14 School Department Budget hearing held on May 9, 2013.   Mayor Davis

Order #17. That the City Council respectfully urges the Chair of the Finance Committee to convene further budget hearings, to allow for additional discussions, with the hope of resolving any outstanding concerns that individual City Councillors may have regarding the FY2014 School Budget.   Vice Mayor Simmons, Councillor Kelley and Councillor Cheung

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Councillors Cheung, Kelley, Reeves and Vice Mayor Simmons transmitting a copy of a letter to Mayor Davis regarding the Cambridge School Department budget. [This communication gives a very detailed list of grievances/concerns.]

Communications & Reports from City Officers #3. A communication was received from Jeffrey M. Young, Superintendent of Schools regarding the Cambridge School Department Budget.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #5. A communication was received from Mayor Henrietta Davis regarding the School Budget.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #6. A communication was received from Mayor Henrietta Davis transmitting a copy of a memorandum from Carolyn L. Turk, Deputy Superintendent of Schools regarding Capital Improvements and Corresponding Educational Planning.

Late Communications & Reports from City Officers #7. A communication from Mayor Henrietta Davis regarding the FY2014 School Budget.

Letter from Massachusetts Association of School Committees (written by Glenn Koocher)

It will be interesting to see how this is resolved if, in fact, it is resolved. There has been a lot of talk around town about how the highly-touted Innovation Agenda may not be as rosy in its implementation as it was in its initial presentation. This may not be entirely apparent in the above communications, but the failure to pass the School Department Budget was most likely preceded by many phone calls and e-mail messages to city councillors from parents of children in the public schools.

In other matters, we have these items:

Order #2. That the City Manager is requested to develop a progress report on all of the non-zoning recommendations submitted by the Central Square Advisory Committee   Councillor Cheung, Councillor Reeves and Vice Mayor Simmons

This is important. Potential zoning changes to enhance retail and residential opportunities in Central Square will come before the City Council later this year and will hopefully pass in some form. However, many quality-of-life issues and actions that support the retail environment of Central Square are not part of the zoning code and should not be ignored while the zoning discussion continues.

Order #13. That the City Manager is requested to explore how the City of Cambridge can adjust the structure of its commissions to make them project-based and have the appropriate levels of funding for projects.   Councillor Cheung

It’s a little difficult to read between the lines of Councillor Cheung’s order. Taking a long, hard look at the structure and purposes of the City’s various non-regulatory borads and commissions is overdue, but this order could be little more than a prompt for the City Manager to hire an executive director for one particular board.

City Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Robert W. Healy, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 13-62, regarding a report on evaluating and incorporating traffic signaling during very low traffic volume times.

I found it interesting that the loop detector on Lee St. at Harvard Ave. is not on the list. Perhaps this is why it never registers the presence of my bicycle no matter how I position myself there. The loop detector on Lee St. at Broadway is on the list, but it does not detect bicycles. If you’re on a bike at a red light and there’s no way to make it turn green, what exactly are you supposed to do?

Unfinished Business #14. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, Interim City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 3, 2013 to discuss an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to create a new Section 6.100 Bicycle Parking, and to create a new definition for Bicycle Parking in Article 2.000, modify the yard standards in Article 5.000 as they relate to bicycle parking and modifying various sections of Article 6.000 to remove references to bicycle parking. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after May 6, 2013. Planning Board hearing held Mar 19, 2013. Petition expires June 17, 2013. May 6, 2013 substituted language referred to Unfinished Business and remained on Unfinished Business.

Having spoken and written about this petition in the past, I’ll just make one simple suggestion for an amendment: Require that in any renovation of a residential or commercial property there be no net reduction in the potential for secure bicycle storage below the established minimum as proposed in this zoning amendment. That is, if basement or garage storage space is converted into living space this should not eliminate the potential of an appropriate amount of secure bicycle parking. – Robert Winters

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