Video: School Committee Meeting of December 11; Regionalization Discussed

Here is a complete Google video of Northampton’s School Committee meeting of December 11. The meeting took place in the Community Room of JFK Middle School. This video is 2 hours and 33 minutes long, and was recorded by Lachlan Ziegler.

Selected highlights:

Report of the Elementary School Reporters: Presented by Members of Bridge Street School

Further discussion of activities at Bridge Street School follows the report…

Discussion of Regionalization (inquiry from Hatfield)

Hatfield may want to move more quickly in 2009 than Northampton can accommodate. An exploratory committee will speak with them.

Funding Approved for Bridge Street School to Address Flooding Problems: Process Stormwater with Sewer Tie-in Rather Than Detention Basins

“Bridge Street School has an issue with flooding because of the detention basins which are underground there. And every time we get a downpour we have issues of flooding in the cafeteria and then up that hallway. This will help tie into the city system, rather than have the water go into these detention basins which are supposed to then have the water percolate down into the groundwater. So this will be a major improvement for Bridge Street School.”

See also:

Gazette: “School districts mixed about mergers as state pushes them on combining forces” (12/29/08)
The Hatfield School Committee voted Dec. 9 to establish an advisory committee to investigate consolidation or regionalization with neighboring districts. Dardenne had sent exploratory letters to the Frontier Regional, Northampton and Hadley school districts…

On Dec. 11 the Northampton School Committee voted unanimously to respond to Hatfield’s request and will send three members – Davina Miller, Katherine Foote Newman and Michael Flynn – to meet with Hatfield officials.

Letter to Gazette: “Government works best when it is closer to home” (7/5/08)
Research indicates that smaller schools and smaller school districts outperform larger ones.

When it comes to city and school planning, a mosaic of small administrative units may look inefficient, but it’s more likely to offer responsive, accountable, and individually tailored service than larger ones.

“Back to School for Planners”; “Why Johnny Can’t Walk to School”; “The Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools”
…the trend towards mega schools continues despite widespread
agreement among researchers that the size of most U.S. schools is too
large. A growing body of research has shown that “student achievement
in small schools is at least equal and often superior to achievement in
large schools.” A higher percentage of students, across all
socio-economic levels, are successful when they are part of smaller,
more intimate learning communities… Security improves and violence
decreases, as does student alcohol and drug abuse…

Smaller, human-scaled institutions are easier to fit into existing
neighborhoods. They are also easier for community residents to relate
to than behemoth-sized institutions…

…District size also generally exerts a distinct influence
(Bickel & Howley, 2000)…

At least one study spotlights the mechanisms by which
small schools become more effective than large schools.
Lee and Smith (1994) used data from the National
Educational Longitudinal Study (1994) to show that
small schools increased teacher collaboration and team
teaching. Lee and Smith report that “large size and fragmented
human contact complicate the management of
[large] schools, which elevates the importance of formal
rules to regulate behavior. The environment in comprehensive
high schools is therefore less human” (p. 2)…

Education World: “Are Smaller Schools Better Schools?” (7/20/00)
Although a variety of factors affect student achievement, the greatest
factor was the reduction of anonymity — going to a school where
someone knows you and your name. Being known by your teachers and peers
makes a difference, Wasley noted.

David Goldberg, “Of Sprawl Schools and Small Schools”

Video: School Committee Meeting of November 13; Citizens Ask Bridge Street School Be Saved