Site CouncilSite Council is a committee that involves parents, staff members, and community members. It meets monthly for 30-45 minutes in the morning. They work together on various school related endeavors and advise staff members on issues and concerns community and families have. This year, we are using Site Council as a forum for discussion about the Bridge and Bowman renovation project. The council is also going to review the school improvement plan periodically and determine how they may further support the education of the students. We are looking to expand the membership. Please contact Meg Colella if you are interested in joining, and/or check the calendar for our next meeting.
Sometimes called “School Councils,” Site-Based Councils were mandated by the Education Reform Act of 1993 as part of the Act’ s decentralization of decision-making. At every Massachusetts public school, the Council is composed of equal numbers of elected teachers and parents, together with the principal and a community representative. Generally the representatives serve staggered terms. The role of the School Council is to advise the Principal, notably in creating and evaluating the School Improvement Plan. As the Council works with the Principal on matters concerning the school as a community, members of all Bridge constituencies are invited to convey ideas and concerns to any council member. The feedback can be brought before the School Council for discussion. For more information please visit the Department of Education website.
The work of the Site Council reflects the results of the needs assessment survey administered to our community every three years. The results of the last survey identified enrichment as a need. In response, our Site Council has spent the bulk of its time this year exploring ways that we can increase enrichment opportunities for our students during and after school. The in-school part is ongoing as the faculty continues to look for ways to differentiate instruction in the classroom or between classrooms. Several grade levels have experimented with regrouping students across a grade level regularly or periodically to provide challenge, remediation, or practice learning activities for students.Differentiation of instruction is a priority for the school and the district and efforts will continue. We found that parents are very interested in after-school club-type enrichment activities for their children.
The Site Council is exploring ways to provide interest-based enrichment. One avenue we have accessed is what is called an extra duty stipend supported by the school budget. These stipends are available to teachers who provide activities such as drama, sports teams, math clubs, etc. mostly at the high school or middle schools. Since the positions are budget-based, they are limited.This year, there are only funds for five new positions for the entire district. We applied for two positions: Math Club (directed by Dan Garland, Grade 5) and Primary Drama Club (directed by Jill O'Reilly,Grade 1). Currently we have one extra duty stipend position(Shakespeare Players, Leslie Colby, Grade 5). Interested in getting involved? Please email bridgePTA@gmail.com if you would like to serve on Site Council next year.
The other idea we have is for a parent-run volunteer enrichment program. We have asked the PTA Board to consider identifying a new position:Enrichment Program Coordinator. This person would elicit parent interest in sharing their talents with a group of interested students, liaison with the office for space, advertise the offerings, etc.Volunteers would develop their own plan (# sessions, # students, day,cost for materials, etc.). This could be a wonderful opportunity to involve parents in school as role models and for students to see parents in a different light.The 2017-2018 Site Based Council Members are:Co-Chairs: Meg Colella and Kimberly Hensle Lowrance
Parents/Community Members:Lucia BrowerAmy KvaalHuan LiuBeth MurnaghanMelanie TanionosSejal Petal
Bridge Staff Members:
Deirdre Schadler (non-voting member)Kristen Gray (non-voting member)
November 30, 2018
The Bridge Elementary School School-Based Site Council held its monthly meeting on Friday, November 30. The main topic was a follow-up from the September meeting’s discussion on the Homework Policy. In response to questions from parents, Kristen Gray sent a survey to Bridge’s teachers about their approach to homework, and the results were shared with SBC members. (See the summary of the survey results here.)
Additionally, Ms. Gray reached out to Mary Barry-Ng, one of the assistant principals at Clarke, to ask about the preparedness level of Bridge students when they come to middle school. Ms. Barry-Ng said that there’s a normal adjustment period for all students, and most of them adjust very quickly. She noted that some students get overwhelmed with the volume of homework so the administration is trying to coordinate efforts so projects are assigned sequentially, not simultaneously. Based upon this conversation, there is no recommended change to the homework practice at Bridge.
Homework, Meg Colella explained, should help students practice a skill or reinforce content. She added that research consistently indicates that assigning homework at the elementary school level doesn’t help students achieve better, thought it does have a small benefit on time management skills (if the project is structured to focus on these skills).
One parent noted that one of the downsides of not having consistent homework assignments is that parents don’t know how their kids are doing at school. Ms. Colella explained that Bridge teachers are responding to this by expanding their newsletters and websites, making them more robust and including details about what students are learning. Parents also can log onto their child’s Google drive account to see their writing, and math assessments are now coming home for parental review (except kindergarten which does not have paper-based math assessments).
Shawn Wood made the point that parents naturally expose their children to travel, music, theatre, etc., and these activities—what families do together—are so much more valuable than any worksheet. Ms. Colella agreed, adding how important it is for kids to be with their families and to have free time to play.
The next SBC meeting will be held Friday, December 21 at 8 AM in the Bridge School Library. For additional information, contact Meg Colella, Principal/Co-Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Kimberly Hensle Lowrance, Parent Representative/Co-Chair (email@example.com); or visit https://lps.lexingtonma.org/domain/481.