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Commissioner's Weekly Update - August 1, 2014

Summer Food Service Program:

The Summer Food Service Program has expanded to more than 1,100 sites this summer, continuing an increase that started in 2010. On Thursday, Commissioner Chester and staff visited the summer meals site at Gold Star Mothers Park in Cambridge, where he helped distribute food and read a book to children, who also received a free book courtesy of the Book Bike. The Commissioner noted that despite the meal program's expansion, there are still thousands of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year that the summer program does not reach.

Message from Commissioner Chester on Staffing Changes:

It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Helene Bettencourt as Acting Chief of Staff, replacing JC Considine, whose last day at DESE was July 30. Helene has been a Department employee since 1995, most recently as Race to the Top Implementation Manager and as Director of Data Collection. Through her multiple assignments at DESE, Helene has developed a strong understanding of the work of the Department. In addition, Helene has hands-on classroom and school district experience. Before joining the Department, Helene was a teacher and program coordinator in the Brockton, Lowell, and Pentucket school districts. I hope you will join me in congratulating Helene on her new role.

It is with contradictory emotions that I inform you that JC Considine has left the Department to pursue a new professional opportunity. JC has been a trusted confidant and advisor to me, as well as a tremendous asset to our agency and the Commonwealth. For this reason, I regret seeing him leave. On the other hand, as a young, gifted professional, I am pleased that he will have a chance to grow his talents in another arena. This is an excellent opportunity for JC and his family. JC's last day at the Department was July 30.

For Your Info:

  • DESE will hold teleconferences on Aug. 7 and 8 to provide guidance to school and district leaders on preliminary 2014 MCAS results and accountability data. For more information on those sessions and to register (by Aug. 4), please visit the MCAS Service Center website at
  • The U.S. Department of Education's Privacy Technical Assistance Center has issued guidance ( Transparency Best Practices final.pdf) urging schools and districts to be proactive in communicating how they use student data. The U.S. DOE's Family Policy Compliance Office also announced a companion web site ( ) that includes a variety of resources and information regarding the federal laws it administers. In the coming months, the U.S. DOE will post decision letters from prior complaints handled by FPCO and feature an online "community of practice" for school officials to share best practices, information, templates, and other resources.

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Last Updated: August 4, 2014
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