A motion to cap certain class sizes ballooned somehow into an emotional referendum on an entire program, with School Committee members declaiming about staff morale and student “labels.”
Superintendent Kenneth Salim pointed to his budget for ways he intends to provide support throughout the school district, including for behavioral difficulties and where enrollment called for more teachers. But they weren’t in the document, he was told.
Superintendent Kenneth Salim unveiled his first proposed budget at the School Committee meeting Thursday. Benefiting from a $10 million increase in property taxes, the total budget for next year rises to $183 million.
Tuesday’s meeting of the School Committee became an unintended primer on the difficulty of separating policy from operations as members looked at issues shared with the superintendent and staff. Meanwhile, employees wondered about slow contact negotiations.
In high-income towns such as Winchester, Concord and Carlisle, 80 percent to 90 percent of third-graders score proficient on the MCAS reading test. In Cambridge, only 65 percent of all students score proficient.
The City Council has a rule allowing roundtables should be televised, city councillor Nadeem Mazen noted during a budget talk with the School Committee, which has no such rule. “Is there any reason why we think that citizens don’t want to see this meeting?”
Free food for all students, new schools in the Alewife and NorthPoint neighborhoods and a debate over whether the city or schools department would lead on universal preschool were among the topics at a meeting of the School Committee and City Council.
A students’ proposal reacting to recent hate speech gave heft to a School Committee meeting otherwise light on policy Tuesday, concerning a motion to “ensure the safety and feeling of belonging for all groups in our schools.”
Progress on two long-standing committee goals and reports that the city has offered to increase property tax revenues, adding money to the school district, left School Committee members energized at a budget update.
The public hearing and budget subcommittee meeting held Thursday were added to the existing budget calendar as recently as Jan. 17, after a request to meet with city councillors on the same date, and not without causing some tension.