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New Wakefield School Board receives citizens petition

AT ITS FIRST MEETING since March elections the Wakefield School Board took a moment to reorganize at its March 20 meeting. Priscilla Colbath was renamed chairman and Judy Nason was nominated as vice chair. Steve Brown and Vivian Macedo were welcomed to the board and congratulations were given to Judy Nason, who was re-elected to her seat. The new board posed for a photo (l-r): Vivian Macedo, Vice Chair Judy Nason, Steve Brown, Chair Pricilla Colbath and Liz Olimpio. (Heather Terragni photo) (click for larger version)
March 29, 2012
WAKEFIELD — To the surprise of some present, the issue of Paul School Principal Trish Moser's resignation and the Wakefield School Board's acceptance of it came up just once at the board's March 20 meeting.

A small group of concerned residents did attend the normally quiet meetings, but otherwise the public, which in the weeks prior had been moved to write letters and sign petitions on Moser's behalf, was non-existent.

The not-so-secret petition drafted by Sandy Ouellette, a concerned parent, and Jackie Keating, a teacher at the school, and bearing the names of 87 other Wakefield residents in favor of keeping Moser on board, was quietly handed to the Board's Chair Priscilla Colbath before the meeting began.

"We [the parents, teachers, staff and children of Paul school] are respectfully asking you to give Principal Trish Moser a contract for 2012-2013," the one-page petition politely states before getting a little more frank.

"Most of the people that elected you are hoping that you will do the 'right' thing."

It later reads, "We really hope the board isn't opening us up to multiple lawsuits that in the end we pay for with our taxes. How are we going to find a new principal with the Board's track record? Who would even apply? Certainly no one who wants a long-term commitment! So who gets hurt here? The Kids!"

In the petition Ouellette and Keating explain that "consistency is a huge deal and the Board needs to do what's in the best interest of the children."

During the meeting Colbath did later acknowledge that she had received the petition, but no further discussion of it was had, as she said she would need time to make copies and distribute it to board members for reading. She did state that the board did also read the 23 letters of support from the teachers that were given the board at its earlier February meeting.

It wasn't until public comments at the end of the meeting that Relf Fogg brought up the issue to discuss.

"A good majority of the students are happy in this environment and I think it lends credence to the administration," he stated.

"I hope that this board would entertain a motion to reconsider the acceptance of Ms. Moser's resignation … there's a huge amount of support in this town."

Fogg explained that the school district has the right "tools in place right now" and suggested that maybe the principal search committee was the problem.

"We're fixing a wagon that doesn't need fixing," he concluded, "please reconsider your actions."

The board thanked Fogg for his comments, but no further discussion was held.

Other news

Curriculum Coordinator Linda Stimson reported on the most recent New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) testing results.

While the results weren't fantastic, Stimson noted that because Paul School is so small compared to other schools in the state, its results fluctuate much more than the schools with larger populations.

Currently the entire curriculum aligns with the State standards and Stimson analyzes the test results each year in order to determine what the school needs to focus on. She works closely with teachers and staff regarding the problem areas and meets with them monthly to ensure progress is being made and that the proper interventions are in place.

While the school continues to strive for better NECAP testing results, by 2014/15 Smarter Balance, a computerized program, will replace NECAP testing all together. This program, noted Superintendent Gail Kushner, will be more concentrated in fewer areas rather than the "little bit of everything" that is tested for in the NECAPs.

Paul School will prepare for Smarter Balance by starting the common core program with kindergarten through second graders now who will not be tested until third grade. Principal Moser shared that the administration has already been working on the standards and integrating it with the common core curriculum.

The Wakefield School Board will meet again on Wednesday, April 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Paul School library.

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