The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Level 5 Schools: An Update

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
February 14, 2014

This memo provides an update about our work with the four Level 5 schools: Dever Elementary School and Holland Elementary School in Boston; Morgan Full Service Community School in Holyoke; and the John Avery Parker Elementary School in New Bedford.

Designation of Receivers/Superintendent; Meetings with Level 5 School Staff

As we have discussed at previous meetings of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the statute provides three options for who will work with me to lead the turnaround efforts at each Level 5 school: (1) I may send a targeted assistance team to the school to assist the superintendent with the implementation of the turnaround plan; (2) I may require the superintendent to implement the turnaround plan; or (3) I may select an external receiver to operate the school and implement the turnaround plan.

On January 29th, I announced that the following organizations and individuals will work with me to lead the turnaround effort at each school:

I have attached the announcement for your reference.

Working together with the districts and the receivers, we are holding staff meetings at each school to introduce staff to the receiver, answer questions, and learn more about each staff's ideas and concerns. We will have completed all four meetings in advance of our February 25th Board meeting. After these initial meetings, the receivers and Superintendent Durkin will continue their outreach to the current staff of each school.

Collective Bargaining Requirement

In addition to authorizing me to select a receiver or superintendent to work with me to implement a Level 5 school's turnaround plan, the statute also authorizes me to require the school committee and any applicable unions to bargain in good faith for 30 days before I exercise my authority to limit, suspend, or change one or more provisions of collective bargaining agreements applicable to the school.

On January 29th, I directed the school committees and affected unions in Boston, Holyoke, and New Bedford to undertake bargaining on a series of working conditions that will be essential to effective implementation of each Level 5 school's turnaround plan, and that would change working conditions in existing collective bargaining agreements.

Turnaround Plans: Development and Next Steps

The turnaround plan development process is underway for each of the four schools. I have been considering the recommendations submitted by the Local Stakeholder Groups as our work moves forward. I particularly appreciate the experience and ideas of the receivers and superintendent as the plans are being developed.

The draft plans will be made public in early March, and I look forward to sharing the plans with the Board. At that time, I will submit each school's plan to the school's Local Stakeholder Group, the superintendent, and the school committee, and all of those parties will have the opportunity to propose modifications to the turnaround plan. I will consider any modifications that are proposed, and issue a final turnaround plan within 30 days after the modifications are submitted.

Once I have issued the final turnaround plan, the statute permits the superintendent, school committee, or local union to appeal to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on any component of the turnaround plan (not the overall Level 5 designation). The Board may, by majority vote, modify or affirm the school's turnaround plan.

I look forward to updating you further on our Level 5 schools work at our meeting.


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Turnaround Operators Selected for Four Level 5 Schools