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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
April 13, 2012

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Update on Level 5 Planning in Lawrence Public Schools

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted on November 29, 2011, to designate the Lawrence Public Schools as a Level 5 district, pursuant to the Board's authority under M.G.L. Chapter 69, s. 1K and 603 CMR 2.00. The following is an update on the Lawrence Public Schools receivership since the March 2012 Board meeting.

Level 5 District Local Stakeholder Group (LSG)

On March 29th, the Level 5 District Local Stakeholder Group submitted its recommendations to receiver Jeff Riley for input into the Level 5 district turnaround plan. Representing a variety of stakeholders in the district and the Lawrence community, the group deliberated thoughtfully over its 45-day convening period to present the receiver with broad recommendations on a wide range of areas. I have enclosed a copy of the LSG's recommendations with this memorandum. Additional information about the LSG's process and its meeting agendas are available on the Lawrence Public Schools website. Both Jeff Riley and I appreciate the LSG representatives' participation and their commitment to the students of Lawrence.

Level 5 District Turnaround Plan

With the Local Stakeholders Group recommendations submitted, the receiver and his leadership team are working diligently to develop a District Turnaround Plan for the Lawrence Public Schools. While many aspects of the district need assistance, I have encouraged Jeff Riley, especially in school year 2012-13, to focus on priority areas that we believe are most likely to dramatically improve student achievement. I plan to ask him to brief the Board about the turnaround plan at a future Board meeting.

Receiver's Review Process

On March 26, 2012, Lawrence began its "receiver's initial review process" in which the receiver is doing an assessment of all of the district's teachers, using a combination of data regarding past practice and current classroom observations. The review process identified teachers with professional teacher status whose performance raised concerns or who failed to meet expectations. These teachers are being observed in the classroom and are receiving written and oral feedback. They are also receiving multiple opportunities for professional development to improve their practice. Dale Libkin, Lawrence's Assistant Superintendent for Teacher Effectiveness, is leading this effort for the district, with support by retired superintendents who are assisting with the classroom observations. I have enclosed an article about the process from the Eagle-Tribune.

Facilities

On April 3, 2012, Christopher Merlino, the district's Director of Facilities and Plant Management, made a presentation to the school committee regarding facilities projects that are slated for completion this year. The projects include roof repair projects at multiple schools in the district. Jeff Riley has heard from many constituents about the repair and maintenance issues in several schools in the district, and is reviewing the use of district funds to ensure that these buildings are safe and healthy places for students to learn and educators to work.

School Redesign Grants (SRGs)

The district has submitted a letter of intent to apply for competitive School Redesign Grant (SRG) funding for all four of its Level 4 schools that do not currently receive SRG funding: Business, Management, and Finance High School; International High School; Leonard Middle School; and South Lawrence East Middle School. The district will also be applying for renewal of its existing SRG funding for Arlington Elementary School. Applications are due to the Department by April 24, 2012, and we expect to announce the awards for all SRG grant recipients by the end of May.

I look forward to discussing this progress with the Board on April 24th, and to continuing to work with the receiver and the entire Lawrence community to transform the school district into one where strong education outcomes are the rule and no longer the exception.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document
Level 5 District Local Stakeholder Group recommendations
View External Link
Eagle-Tribune article regarding Receiver's Review process


Last Updated: April 19, 2012
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