Sunday, June 23, 2024

Tours of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School renovations and a “State of the Schools” speech from Superintendent Jeffrey Young are planned for Tuesday evening.

Young announced the event this week to the School Committee, then posted details on the district website alongside a two-year plan he called “ambitious but achievable,” including reducing the achievement gap that has haunted the district for years.

But Young, who has just begun his second school year, already has plenty on his plate as he nears a review from the committee. His first year was filled with major restructurings — first with the logistics of creating a middle school for a city in which most students go straight from K-8 schools to CRLS, the city high school, then with a $137.5 budget that managed to add some services but also called for $4.7 million in cuts, including several district employees.

Young chose to set aside the middle school plan and focus on short-term plans for realigning the teaching of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders across a dozen schools and meeting expectations when students enter high school. A middle school is not mentioned in his goals through 2012.

The budget to be crafted this year deciding spending next year is likely to be even more difficult, city and school officials and members of the committee have said repeatedly.

But at the committee’s Tuesday meeting, Young and members discussed two doses of federal money that could ease some of the pain:

  • $876,000 from the Department of Education’s Race to the Top program to be used over four years in any configuration. “We can bank it all for the fourth year, if we want,” Young said. A proposal for how to spend the money is due by Oct. 22. Young said he would brief the committee at its next meeting, Oct. 5 in City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.
  • $639,000 from the federal jobs bill, all but $150,000 of which will replace losses from the state’s Chapter 70 education funding.

While wrestling with the current budget, three programs protested cuts and were spared — the Breakthrough Collaborative, CitySprouts and the Cambridge School Volunteers — and committee members asked the superintendent Tuesday to ensure every program facing cuts knew how to lobby as well as those, and as effectively as possible.

“We do want to be fair,” Young said. “It’s not just those three that get favored status.”

At the same time, he said, not all cuts can be reversed.

“I don’t want to raise unrealistic expectations of a windfall,” he said.

Young’s speech is at 7:15 p.m. at the Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway, but the event begins at 6:45 p.m. with a welcome and musical performance by students.

After Young’s half-hour speech, there will be refreshments provided by students from Rindge School of Technical Arts and walking tours of the high school’s renovation project. The project, due to be finished next fall, was approved by the City Council in 2008 for up to $125 million.