Greg Nadeau recently posted about proposals to combine the Choice and Neighborhood programs at the Healey. The School Committee recently voted on those proposals. I’m posting the press release here, followed by the text of the two motions the committee passed. What do people think?
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
Somerville, MA. Following more than three months of active discussion and with significant input from with staff, families and students at Somerville’s Arthur D. Healey Elementary School, the Somerville School Committee decided in a 5 to 3 vote on Monday, June 21, 2010 to unify the Healey School and charge the School Improvement Council with creating a school redesign plan. This plan will use the Choice program educational practices and governing document as a starting point for discussion. In a second action, the members of the School Committee voted 6 to 2 to define a set of guiding principles to help the School Improvement Council with their Fall 2010 planning work. “This was a complicated deliberation,” said School Committee Chair Mark Niedergang. “In the end, this decision was guided by the School Committee’s desire to sustain a progressive educational choice in the Somerville Public Schools. We also wanted to increase student, family and staff satisfaction at the Healey School, and student achievement for all youth in the Healey School community. I have never been more excited about the future of the Healey School, and I look forward, with great confidence and anticipation, to seeing the new design that the Healey School Council will develop.”
Says Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi, “Our staff will effectively carry out the School Committee decisions in order to ensure the Healey School continues the forward momentum begun by the staff, and stimulated by the debate over the last three months about the characteristics and elements the staff, families and students seek in their school.” The School Committee actions called for the District to allocate funds for a consultant to help shepherd the school redesign process, and the expansion of the team of advisors helping the School Improvement Council create the template for the new Healey School. The School Committee called for a transparent and inclusive redesign process that brings together faculty, parents/guardians and community members. The School Committee motion called for the development of a Healey School design plan by January 15, 2011. Monthly progress reports will be expected beginning in October 2010. The Healey School welcomes a new Principal, Jason DeFalco on July 1, 2010. As one of the co-chairs of the School Council, he will work with the school redesign consultant and all stakeholders to facilitate the transition planning process.
The Arthur D. Healey School currently provides high quality instructional and afterschool services to more than 560 youth in grades K-8. Since its inception 27 years ago, the Healey School has been home to the District-wide Choice program, a K-6 progressive, constructivist instructional program launched in a partnership with Tufts University. The Healey School also offers an integrated Grade 7-8 program and specialized classes for students who require special education instructions in substantially separate classrooms.
For more information about the Somerville School Committee decision to unify the Arthur D. Healey School, please contact Tony Pierantozzi at 617-625-6600 x6005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the two motions that the School Committee passed:
Motion One made by Mr. Sweeting and seconded by Ms. Rafal:
I move that the School Committee charge the Healey School Council with drafting plans for a unified
K-8 Healey School based upon the educational philosophy and strong commitment to parent/guardian
involvement outlined in the Choice Ad-hoc Document. The School Council should also include other
best practices currently used at the Healey or other schools, while retaining its strong emphasis on
literacy intervention and the continued revitalization of the Middle Grade Program.
The new school will feature high expectations and a challenging academic environment for all
students and will be officially established in September 2011. The new Healey School should yield
increased enrollment and maximum retention of students, expanded family participation in governance
resulting in higher parent satisfaction and higher MCAS and/or other indicators of student
The Healey School Council should develop a structured process for its deliberations that is transparent,
inclusive, and participatory. The School Committee will provide funds for a consultant to work with
the Principal and the School Council beginning in September 2010.
The proposal should take as its starting point the Choice Ad hoc document and its implementation
must be in accordance with all collectively bargained agreements and collective bargaining principles;
any elements of the plan that would result in a change of working conditions for employees are subject
The School Committee recommends that the Healey School Council expand its membership in
September 2010 to become even more broadly representative and to include more parents/guardians,
teachers, staff, and community members in the design process for the new school.
The Healey School Council should work closely with existing leadership, including, but not limited to,
for example, the PTA, the Instructional Leadership Team, the Choice Council, the Middle Grades
Design Team, the After School Planning Team, Student Government and a representative of the
The School Committee expects the Healey School Council to provide regular updates to District
education leaders for presentation to the Educational Programs and Instruction Subcommittee,
beginning in October 2010. The School Committee requests a written progress report outlining key
parts of a proposed school design plan by January 15, 2011. The full proposal will be reviewed by
District education leaders and presented to the School Committee for its approval no later than March
Motion One was passed on a roll call vote of YES – 5 – Rafal, Bockelman, Curtatone, Sweeting, and
Niedergang, NO – 3 – Bastardi, Cardoso and Rossetti and ABSENT – 1- Connolly
Motion Two made by Mr. Sweeting and seconded by Ms. Rafal:
The School Committee recognizes the following guidelines as key elements that should be
strengthened and considered for adoption as part of the mission of the redesigned Healey School:
A) Student-centered learning, an emphasis on students working in groups, project-based learning,
guided discovery and a variety of instructional styles
B) Looping, mixed grades and flexible grouping when appropriate
C) Experiential learning, high-quality field trips and out-of-school experiences such as Nature’s
D) A focused emphasis on early literacy intervention with the stated goal that all students read at
or above grade level
E) Flexible student groups that provide advanced students with opportunities for more challenging
work and targeted remediation for students who are behind
F) Parent/guardian involvement in instructional activities (when appropriate) in the classroom
G) A parent/guardian on every teacher- and administrator-hiring committee
H) Parent/guardian involvement through subcommittees of the School Council, active working
groups, and an organization such as a Family Advisory Board to build community, share
information, and provide a forum for parent/guardian input on issues affecting the school
I) Strong community connections and university partnerships
The School Committee encourages the expanded Healey School Council to:
a) Investigate possible magnet themes to pilot and/or Horace Mann Charter status
b) Establish appropriate parent forums for providing input about the school
c) Investigate best practices for ensuring that high-quality enrichment activities are
implemented for the whole school
d) Investigate the best classroom structures (i.e. the optimal grades for looping and/or mixed
e) Develop and nurture opportunities for community building among all members of the
Healey School community
f) Bring more parents/guardians into the deliberative process through active working groups
g) Investigate the possibility of renaming the school in a way that honors the past and
recognizes the future.
Motion Two was passed on a roll call vote of YES – 6 – Bastardi, Rafal, Bockelman, Curtatone,
Sweeting, and Niedergang; NO – 2 – Cardoso and Rossetti and ABSENT – 1 – Connolly.