Answers To Some Common Questions Regarding BOE Takeover of Lawrence Public Schools

November 30, 2011

Lawrence Public Schools

 I have been asked many questions about the recent vote that the Board of Education took to place Lawrence as a level 5 school and “takeover” the Lawrence Public Schools. I apologize for any misspelling it’s the middle of the night and I am very tired. If there are any other question feel free to ask and I will see if I can get them answered for you.
The Board of Education voted now what happens?
– The Commissioner of Secondary and Elementary Education will appoint a receiver that will have the power of both the Superintendent and the School Committee.
– The Receiver shall be “a non-profit entity or an individual with a demonstrated record of success in improving low-performing schools or districts or the academic performance of disadvantaged students”.
– Within 30 days the commissioner and receiver shall convene a local stakeholder group of not more than 13 individuals for the purpose of creating a turnaround plan in order to maximize the rapid improvement of the academic achievement of students.
– After consulting the local stakeholders the Commissioner and the Receiver will be able to:
(1) expand, alter or replace the curriculum and program offerings of the district or of a school in the district, including the implementation of research-based early literacy programs, early interventions for struggling readers and the teaching of advanced placement courses or other rigorous nationally or internationally recognized courses, if the district or schools in the district do not already have such programs or courses;
(2) reallocate the uses of the existing budget of the district;
(3) provide funds, subject to appropriation, to increase the salary of an administrator, or teacher in the district working in an underperforming or chronically underperforming school, in order to attract or retain highly-qualified administrators, or teachers or to reward administrators or teachers who work in chronically underperforming districts that achieve the annual goals set forth in the turnaround plan;
(4) expand the school day or school year or both of schools in the district;
(5) limit, suspend or change 1 or more provisions of any contract or collective bargaining agreement in the district, including the adoption of model provisions identified by the commissioner from among existing contracts or collective bargaining agreements in the commonwealth; provided, however, that the commissioner shall not reduce the compensation of an administrator, teacher or staff member unless the hours of the person are proportionately reduced;
(6) add pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten classes, if the district does not already have the classes;
(7) following consultation with applicable local unions, require the principal and all administrators, teachers and staff to reapply for their positions in the district, with full discretion vested in the receiver regarding any such reapplications. turnaround plan;
(8) limit, suspend or change 1 or more school district policies or practices, as such policies or practices relate to the underperforming schools in the district;
(9) include a provision of job-embedded professional development for teachers in the district, with an emphasis on strategies that involve teacher input and feedback;
(10) provide for increased opportunities for teacher planning time and collaboration focused on improving student instruction;
(11) establish a plan for professional development for administrators in the district, with an emphasis on strategies that develop leadership skills and use the principles of distributive leadership;
(12) establish steps to assure a continuum of high expertise teachers by aligning the following processes with the common core of professional knowledge and skill: hiring, induction, teacher evaluation, professional development, teacher advancement, school culture and organizational structure;
(13) develop a strategy to search for and study best practices in areas of demonstrated deficiency in the district;
(14) establish strategies to address mobility and transiency among the student population of the district; and
(15) include additional components, at the discretion of the commissioner and the receiver, based on the reasons the district was designated as chronically underperforming and based on the recommendations of the local stakeholder group in subsection
When will the Turnaround Plan be in effect?
Much of the winter and spring would be developing the plan and it would be in effect in the fall.
What happens if the Commissioner or Receiver does not approve a reapplication of an employee?
The employee shall retain such rights as may be provided under law or any applicable collective bargaining agreement in relation to the employee’s ability to fill another position in the district; provided, however, that the employee shall not have the right to displace any teacher with professional teacher status in any other school during a school year.
For how long will the Turnaround Plan be authorized for?
Up to three years, if the district is still labeled as underperforming a new Turnaround Plan would be made.
What happens to the School Committee?
The Lawrence School Committee is essentially stripped of most of its institutional power. The members retain their title and they remain as a representative body for the City of Lawrence.
By law the commissioner and receiver shall provide every quarter a written report to the school committee. This report would give specific information about the progress being made on the implementation of the turnaround plan and an annual evaluation of the receiver.
The Commissioner stated that he would see if other mechanisms could be created to keep the school committee updated and have their input obtained.
When will receivership end?

It will end as soon as the district has significant academic progress. At that point the Commissioner can decide to end receivership or the School Committee can petition the Board of Education.

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About pavelpayano

Pavel Payano graduated with a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2006. After graduation he became the Outreach Director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. He served in this role until 2007 when he joined the staff of Congresswoman Tsongas becoming her Special Assistant and Immigration Specialist. In June 2011 he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a Masters of Science in Public Affairs. Mr. Payano is an active member of the Lawrence community; in 2010 he co-founded the Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network, an organization that hopes to bridge the gap between local government, business leaders and young professionals who care about the development and well being of the greater Lawrence communities. He is also serving his second term as a Lawrence School Committee member.

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2 Comments on “Answers To Some Common Questions Regarding BOE Takeover of Lawrence Public Schools”

  1. The Thrifty Scholar Says:

    "When will receivership end?It will end as soon as the district has significant academic progress. At that point the Commissioner can decide to end receivership or the School Committee can petition the Board of Education."What are the guidelines for "significant academic progress?" MCAS scores? WHat are the percentages for each subject?


  2. Pavel M. Payano Says:

    Those guidelines will be created by the stakeholder group that will be creating Lawrence's Turnaround Plan.


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