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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Briefing for the November 26, 2012 Special Meeting and the November 27, 2012 Regular Meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
November 16, 2012


The next regular meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be on Tuesday, November 27, 2012, at the South Lawrence East Elementary School in Lawrence. Board members are invited to arrive at 8 a.m. for a tour of the school. The regular meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. (coffee will be available at 8) and should adjourn by 1 p.m. The Board will also hold a special meeting on Monday, November 26, 2012, at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden, from 5-7 p.m. If you need overnight accommodations or any additional information about the schedule, please call JC Considine at (781) 338-3112.


The special meeting on Monday evening will focus on Level 4 schools. The regular meeting on Tuesday morning takes place in Lawrence, one year after the Board voted to place the Lawrence Public Schools in receivership. After a tour of the school at 8 a.m. with Receiver/Superintendent Jeff Riley, the regular meeting will convene at 8:30 a.m. Our business agenda leads off with a recap of the Monday evening discussion and then a presentation by Jeff Riley on the Lawrence turnaround effort that he is leading. We will continue our discussion of the Board's budget priorities and the Board will vote on our state education budget proposal for FY2014. The Board will take an initial vote on proposed amendments to the regulations on innovation schools. The business agenda concludes with a vote on a charter amendment for the Match Charter Public School and a report on the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School.

Special Meeting

Level 4 Schools - Discussion

  • Planning for Exit from Level 4 Status
  • Challenges and Opportunities from Three Superintendents' Perspectives

In March 2010, the Board adopted regulations to identify and intervene in Level 4 ("underperforming") schools and we identified 34 Level 4 schools representing nine districts and serving 18,924 students. Each Level 4 school developed a three-year turnaround plan to be implemented beginning in school year 2010-11. These 34 schools are in their third year of turnaround, and we are required to review their progress and determine next steps. At the special meeting of the Board on Monday evening, November 26, I will present the framework being developed to inform these decisions. Deputy Commissioner Alan Ingram, Senior Associate Commissioner Lynda Foisy, and other members of our staff will join us. We have also invited district leaders engaged in the Level 4 school turnaround process to participate in a panel discussion reflecting on lessons learned and challenges ahead in turning around the Commonwealth's lowest performing schools. This is an important topic for the Board and Department, and I look forward to a productive and engaging discussion. No votes will be taken at the special meeting.

Regular Meeting

Comments from the Chair

Chair Banta will report on current issues and activities. She will introduce and welcome our new Board member, Dr. Pendred (Penny) Noyce.

Comments from the Commissioner

  1. Welcome to Cliff Chuang. I am pleased to introduce Cliff Chuang to the Board this month. Cliff has joined the Department as Associate Commissioner for Charter Schools and School Redesign Programs. Most recently, Cliff served as the Director of Charter Schools at the New York State Education Department, and he previously worked at our Department in the charter school office and the office of school redesign. Combining charter school and school redesign activities in one unit, under Cliff's leadership, will help us promote and support a wide range of innovative school models to support academic improvement. We welcome Cliff back to Massachusetts. I also want to thank the entire staff of the Charter School Office, and especially acting assistant director Barry Barnett, for keeping the work moving forward during the past year.

  2. Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). I will report on the November Policy Forum meeting of the Council. I began my year's presidency during the meeting. The next year promises to be eventful in terms of the interaction of federal and state education policy. With the re-election of President Obama; the looming threat of sequestration; and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act overdue for reauthorization, I anticipate that CCSSO will be an active player in Washington politics.

Comments from the Secretary

Secretary Reville will brief the Board on current issues and activities.

Items for Discussion and Action

  1. Recap of Special Meeting on Level 4 Schools - Discussion

    Chair Banta and I will recap the Monday evening discussion on Level 4 schools and plans for next steps.

  2. Update on Lawrence Public Schools Receivership - Discussion

    We are holding our regular meeting in Lawrence this month to give the Board an opportunity to view as well as hear about some of the ways the state receivership is transforming education for the students of that city, under Jeff Riley's leadership. Receiver/Superintendent Riley will make a presentation and has invited others who are involved in the turnaround effort to join him. We have included some data and background information in your briefing book under Tab 2.

  3. Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Budget Proposal for FY 2014 - Discussion and Vote

    The Board's budget committee has met several times and will report at our November 27 meeting. Based on the budget committee's recommended FY 2014 priorities, the Board will discuss and vote on the budget at the November 27 meeting. Consistent with Mass. General Laws c. 69, § 1A, I will transmit the Board's recommendations to the Secretary of Education, who "shall then prepare and submit a budget request on behalf of the department to the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on education, and the secretary of administration and finance."

  4. Proposed Amendments to Regulations on Innovation Schools, 603 CMR 48.00 - Initial Discussion and Vote to Solicit Public Comment

    The Innovation Schools initiative, authorized under the 2010 Act Relative to the Achievement Gap, gives educators and other stakeholders the opportunity to create schools with increased autonomy and flexibility while keeping school funding within districts. The Executive Office of Education (EOE) has been actively engaged with Innovation Schools, working with staff from our Department. In 2010 the Board adopted Regulations on Innovation Schools. EOE and we have identified a few areas that need clarification. This month, we will present the proposed regulations to the Board for initial review and a vote to solicit public comment. With the Board's approval, we will solicit comment on the regulations and bring them back to the Board for a final vote in January or February 2013. Bridget Rodriguez and Jim DiTullio of EOE and Cliff Chuang of our Department will be present at the November 27 meeting to answer your questions.

  5. Amendment Proposed for Match Charter Public School - Discussion and Vote

    Pursuant to the Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.11(1), the Board must approve major changes in the material terms of a school's charter. The Match Charter Public School in Boston has requested an amendment to expand to grades 5-12 from the current grades 6-12 configuration, with the same maximum enrollment of 550 students. I am recommending that the Board approve the school's request. The details are presented in the memo under Tab 5.

  6. Report on Conditions: Gloucester Community Arts Charter School - Discussion

    At our November 27 meeting I am presenting an update on the progress achieved by the Gloucester Community Arts Charter School (GCACS) in response to the conditions that the Board imposed on the school. Despite the fact that the school has had more than two years to gain its footing, I continue to be concerned about the viability of GCACS. The memo under Tab 6 outlines the history of the chartering of GCACS, reports on the school's compliance with the conditions imposed by the Board, and provides additional information and analyses. We will discuss the report as well as options for further action. I am not recommending any vote on the matter at this meeting.

Other Items for Information

  1. Education-Related News Clippings

    Enclosed are several recent articles about education.

  2. Report on Grants Approved by the Commissioner

    Under Tab 8 you will find my report on grants that I approved since the last Board meeting, under the authority that the Board has delegated to me. There are no charter actions to report this month, other than the items on our business agenda.

If you have questions about any agenda items, please call me. I look forward to seeing you at the Department on November 26 and in Lawrence on November 27.

Last Updated: November 21, 2012
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