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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Update on Southbridge Public Schools Receivership Activities

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
March 11, 2016


This memo provides the monthly update to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education about our work with the Southbridge Public Schools (SPS). In this memo, I am reporting on:

  • Receiver search process
  • Local Stakeholder Group meeting information and schedule;
  • Community meetings; and
  • School Year 2016-2017 budget.

Receiver Search Process

The process of identifying a receiver for Southbridge Public Schools is drawing to completion, and I anticipate announcing my selection for the receiver before or just after the upcoming Board meeting. The search process has been robust and I have met with several high quality candidates. I look forward to sharing my final decision with you as soon as possible.

Local Stakeholder Group

The Southbridge Local Stakeholder Group (LSG) has met three times since its initial meeting on February 23, and the final meeting will take place on March 21. More information about the content of each meeting, including full video recordings, can be found on the SPS website. The LSG will formalize a list of recommendations which the receiver and I will consider during the development of the turnaround plan. I look forward to reviewing the LSG's ideas for how to create and promote positive change in the district.

Meeting scheduleMeeting topic
Tuesday, February 23, 4:00-6:30 pmIntroductions, member roles and expectations
Monday, February 29, 4:00-7:00 pmSocial emotional learning & wraparound services, leadership
Monday, March 7, 4:00-6:30 pmFamily and community engagement and professional development
Monday, March 14, 4:00-6:30 pmCurriculum, professional development, and recruitment and retention of staff and leadership
Monday, March 21, 4:00-7:00 pmFinalization of recommendations

Community Meetings

In order to engage Southbridge's families and community members, especially those who historically have had limited engagement with the schools, in conversations about how to improve SPS schools, staff members from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) have held four neighborhood-based meetings. The schedule of the meetings is below.

Facilitated in both English and Spanish, these meetings were designed to be intimate in size in order to allow families to feel comfortable and engage in the dialogue. In total, the conversations attracted approximately 70 families and community members. Ventura Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the Commissioner, will be available at the Board meeting to provide additional information.

Meeting scheduleMeeting location
Wednesday, March 2, 11:00 amBrookside Terrace Community Room (11 Village Drive)
Wednesday, March 2, 6:00 pmHouse of Destiny Church (64 Mills Street)
Tuesday, March 8, 9:30 amJacob Edwards Library (236 Main Street)
Wednesday, March 9, 6:00 pmBrookside Terrace Community Room (11 Village Drive)

School Year 2016-2017 Budget

SPS and DESE staff members will present the school year 2016-2017 budget at a Southbridge Town Council meeting on March 24. In preparation, DESE staff members are engaging in conversations with the Southbridge Town Manager and SPS principals and administrators to assess the various needs and priorities for the coming school year. The final budget will be published on the SPS website immediately following the March 24 presentation. As I explained in the February memo, Paul Dakin, former Superintendent of Revere Public Schools, continues to provide support to the district and I have asked him to be my point person on the budget development process.

Senior Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston, Ventura Rodriguez, and other members of DESE's Southbridge team will be at the Board's March 22 meeting to answer your questions.

Last Updated: March 14, 2016
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