WESTFORD -- School Committee members had a full agenda Monday night, with a range of topics from elementary school size complaints to planned building improvements for schools, plus an executive session regarding the bargaining position of the group.
* A few parents voiced concern for fifth-grade students at the Abbot School, complaining the size of classrooms are too small for their children. Some school officials referred to the problem as "overcrowding." These issues arose just after the school year started with officials tackling another problem when an extra 18 students arrived in the third grade there unexpectedly. Superintendent of Schools Everett "Bill" Olsen said administrators were purchasing smaller chairs for fifth-grade students that would actually fit in their rooms, as well as some stools for a separate work table that would ease some concerns. Parent Margaret Carlson said she was concerned about a lack of reading time for fifth-graders in the library with the moving around of students into different rooms, but Chairman David Keele asked parents to be patient with the newly-implemented changes and to report back to them in some time with further complaints or concerns.
* Officials unanimously voted to accept a five-year capital improvements plan for school buildings Olsen is planning to review with the town Capital Planning Committee on Friday. The School Committee accepted the listing of planned projects with assigned prioritization where capital-expenditure requests spanned the time frame from fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2019. Listed improvements included a $1.3 million project to replace windows at the Day School, $700,00 for windows at the Col. John Robinson School, $450,000 to replace a flat roof section of the Abbot School and $150,000 to resurface the parking at the Blanchard Middle School.
* School Committee members also heard from representatives from the Day School and Stony Brook and Blanchard middle schools on proposed improvements to their schools' approaches and curriculum. Many educators talked about a need to utilize data and to assign staff members as "data coaches" to analyze available data. Stony Brook School officials said they would also be looking to extend physical-education class from 45 minutes to 90 minutes for students. Staff would like to bring on one more P.E. teacher and add in a second gym period for students in their six-day cycles as well.
* The School Committee ended its meeting with a call for an executive session to discuss "negotiations." Though it's not known what officials discussed Monday night, the Westford Education Association recently said it is seeking legal action against the district after union representatives learned teachers' assistants "steps," or scheduled salary increases, were not recognized this year. The teachers' assistants' bargaining group within the association, known as Unit E, had their contract expire in June 2012.
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