Superintendent's Message

    News

    Below you will find a complete listing of up-to-date news items for the Longmeadow Public Schools. Be sure to check back often or subscribe to updates using the RSS subscription link below.

    Kindergarten Facts

    posted by Dianne Georgantas

    Dear Longmeadow Community:

    This past year, I worked with the Kindergarten Committee to study the benefits of a full day kindergarten program, and a recommendation was made to the School Committee that we provide the opportunity for all children to attend the full day program in Longmeadow.  The lottery system was abolished and the fee was reduced from over $4000 to $3000 per child.  The Committee worked all through the fall and into the winter before making this recommendation.  Time was needed for teachers' input, parent forums, research and communication.  A final report was written and presented to the School Committee in January of 2014.  Registration was completed by March 1, and it was at this time that we had evidence that we would increase the number of full day classrooms next year, FY 15.

    Fund Code 701- the Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant- is designed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to promote voluntary expansion to full day kindergarten programs.  In November of 2012, the DESE released the funding opportunity for this competitive grant.  It was designed to increase the number of full day programs- not to supplant the current full day classrooms already in existence.  Since Longmeadow's full day kindergarten had no classrooms increases in the past years, we were not eligible for the grant.

    In addition, the grant clearly states, "Competitive priority will be given to districts with the greatest need as defined by:
    •       higher percentages of low-income students based on districts that serve
            free or reduced lunches to at least 35% of its students;
    •       higher percentages of students who are English language learners;
            and lower Composite Performance Index (CPI) data for the 3rd grade
            MCAS assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics."

    Eight districts applied for the grant this past year.  Five applicants received funding in FY 14.  They were: Billerica Public Schools ($90,000), Hopkinton Public Schools ($20,000), Mansfield Public Schools ($20,000), Scituate Public Schools ($10,000), and Stoneham Public Schools ($20,259).  The total amount of money allocated and dispersed for the entire State was $150,529.  Three applicants received no funding; a total of $514,457 was requested by all of the applicants and only $150,529 was funded by the State.  None of the districts that received funding over the past two years compare to us by the DESE's qualifications, which they call "like districts".   We are compared with communities such as Wellesley and Wayland for achievement, socio-economics and ELL populations.  The data above shows that the likelihood of Longmeadow receiving a grant was highly unlikely. In addition, the deadline for the application was October 15, 2013, and the Committee, required by the DESE to even apply for the grant, did not finish our work until January of 2014.

    In FY 13, again only five districts, again, distinctly different from Longmeadow's profile, received funding.   They were:  Bourne, Hudson, Mansfield, Mendon- Upton Regional and Scituate.  Ms. Jasmin's claims that our chances of receiving funding were "high" based on FY 12 grants is inaccurate and misrepresents the facts; if she looks at the actual grant recipients in FY 13 and FY 14, and the limited funds available, she will find that no "like districts" received funding because we do not fit the criteria; districts with lower socio-economic status receive priority in almost all DESE grants.

    In addition, it would cost us over $407,000 more to offer free kindergarten.  Yes, we would receive approximately $81,640 from Chapter 70 funds based on the 130 students projected by Longmeadow's census, but that would still leave us a deficit of approximately $325,960.

    There are other state and federal grants for which we are eligible, we do apply and we do receive funding.  Some of these include: Title I, IDEA, Race to the Top, Title IIA, Academic Support and Summer Academic Support.  Longmeadow receives approximately $850,000 annually in grants due to applications submitted by Longmeadow's school administration.  We do not shy away from applying for grants that will bring valued revenue to this Town as we understand the high tax rate that residents pay in order to support our school system.  We are most grateful.

    As we move to full day kindergarten, we may become eligible for other grants.  Please be assured that we will continue to apply for all grants that we have a chance of receiving.  We are aware that every dollar counts, and we strive to take advantage of all opportunities to bring funding to Longmeadow when the criteria fits our profile.

    Regards,
    Superintendent Marie Doyle

    April Press Release

    posted Apr 8, 2014, 7:11 AM by Dianne Georgantas

    The Superintendent and School Committee partner with families in highly valuing education.  The transition to offering full day kindergarten is an excellent example of this commitment.

    Longmeadow is not alone in the struggle to fund free full day Kindergarten. Several of our “like” districts, such as Wellesley, are seeking overrides to fund similar programs. When preparing the budget, the School Department follows the guidelines set forth by the Town Manager and Select Board. At the onset, the directive from the Town Manager was an allocation of a 2.7% increase with the stipulation that we were to maintain level services with no new initiatives added.  At follow up sub-committee meetings, the Town Manager and Select Board representative requested the School Department’s aid in bridging a $400,000 town wide deficit.  Understanding the fiscal realities facing the town, the School Department has worked closely with the sub-committee and the Town Manager to bridge the gap and cut our original allocation by $190,000.  I am sure that should the fiscal circumstances of the town improve, the School Committee would welcome the funding to provide full day Kindergarten at no cost for all residents. 

    Municipal budgets and state grants are not easy to read nor are they user friendly.  It is easy to misread information and be led to incorrect conclusions. What possible benefit is there for Longmeadow Public Schools NOT to apply for state funding? The School Committee is consistently looking for funding to finance projects in order to lessen the burden on the residents of Longmeadow.  For example, there has been much discussion about the 702 Transition to Kindergarten grant. Yes, every town is eligible to apply for this grant, much like most everyone is eligible to apply for a mortgage. Not every district is eligible for funding, much like not everyone is eligible for a $5,000,000 mortgage. The primary criteria for this grant is having low 3rd grade MCAS scores, a high percentage of  low income families and a high percentage of English Language Learners.  The small amount of funding that Longmeadow could possibly receive from this grant subjects our Kindergarten program to the state’s discretion and requires NAEYC accreditation.

    Contrary to statements that have been made in various public forums, such as Facebook, Chapter 70 funding for free Full Day Kindergarten would not be substantial. When communicating with representatives from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), it was reported that the maximum the town of Longmeadow could receive would be up to $628 per student if full day Kindergarten was provided without tuition.

    While everyone would like more concrete numbers, the reality is that state & federal funding is a constantly moving target. In addition, enrollment numbers still remain uncertain.  For example, for the 2013-2014 school year the District had an increase of 45 students over what the census had predicted with many of these students enrolling in the last days before the school year began. This resulted in the hiring of an additional teacher at the last hour.

    There are many demands placed on families today, a few of which include time commitments and financial concerns, and with that in mind, the School Committee went forward with offering several opportunities for open communication and dialogue in the attempt to reach all members of the Longmeadow community.

    Please be assured that the new Common Core curriculum will be presented to all students whether they attended the Half Day or Full Day Kindergarten programs. The Longmeadow School District has every confidence in our highly qualified teachers that the students will receive the foundation needed to succeed in first grade.

    I would like to reassure all families that the decision that was made regarding full day Kindergarten was reached only after significant thoughtful analysis. While the School Department is unable to fully fund Full Day Kindergarten at this time, we will continue to explore every avenue possible along with working with town and state officials to fund full day kindergarten. 

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our parents for their patience and continued support as we embark on this new exciting chapter in education.  I appreciate the open dialogue and look forward to continuing to work with you to assure a positive Kindergarten experience for your child.  As always I am committed to providing the highest quality education for every child in Longmeadow.

    More information about Kindergarten screening & orientation will be sent to parents next week. We are looking forward to meeting our newest students, the class of 2027.

     

    Sincerely,

    Marie Doyle

    Early Release Day - Monday 4/7/14

    posted Apr 3, 2014, 9:39 AM by Dianne Georgantas

    Our last early Release Day for students is scheduled for Monday, April 7
    Elementary School students will be released at 1:40 pm.
    Middle School students will be released at 1:30 pm.
    High School students will be released at 1:10 pm.

    Policy for Public Input

    posted Mar 28, 2014, 7:37 AM by Dianne Georgantas

    The Longmeadow School Committee is seeking input on Policy IJOA - Field Trips, and the regulation which goes along with that Policy IJOA-R - Field Trips.  The policy and regulation are posted below.  
    Please complete a policy input statement to provide your feedback about these revised policies.

    LHS Accidentals appear on "Together in Song"

    posted Mar 25, 2014, 9:09 AM by Dianne Georgantas

    The LHS Accidentals are proud to appear on "Together in Song," a celebration of choral music on public television station WGBY. We taped our appearance in January, and you can see us on TV on Saturday March 30th at 8:30 pm.

    The performance is also on the Together in Song website. You can see the full performance and give us your vote. With your support, we could win the opportunity to film a full 30 minute television show of our own!

    Here's the link to our performance. Clicking on VOTE will add to our tally! Thanks so much for your support of The Accidentals!

    Principal of the Year

    posted Mar 25, 2014, 7:39 AM by Dianne Georgantas   [ updated Mar 25, 2014, 7:47 AM ]

    Dear Longmeadow Community:

    Each year, MESPA (Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association) recognizes an outstanding leader as Principal of the Year, and this year they have selected Marie Pratt.


    Marie has served for the past eleven years as the Principal of Blueberry Hill Elementary School.  In this capacity, she has worked with teams to develop strong curriculum, hired great staff, introduced new technologies, cared for children, advocated for parents and more.  She has dedicated her life to education as she has worked countless hours meeting with people, visiting classrooms, attending events, wiping tears, sharing laughs and representing Longmeadow proudly.

    Congratulations to Principal Pratt on this prestigious, well deserved award!

    Regards,
    Marie Doyle

    Technology in Education Showcase

    posted Mar 24, 2014, 8:57 AM by Dianne Georgantas   [ updated Mar 24, 2014, 1:01 PM ]

    Technology In Education Showcase  - 
    Date: May 22, 2014
    Time: 6 pm to 8:30 pm
    Where: Longmeadow High School
    Please join us any time from 6 to 8:30 pm for a great evening meant for the whole community of Longmeadow to enjoy!

    Longmeadow LifeLong Learning

    posted Mar 13, 2014, 1:04 PM by Dianne Georgantas   [ updated Mar 14, 2014, 6:07 AM ]

    Longmeadow
    LifeLong Learning

    SPRING 2014 REGISTRATION HAS BEGUN!

    COURSES BEGIN THE WEEK OF MARCH 31ST 2014

    Longmeadow LifeLong Learning is thrilled to introduce our very first course offerings!  Most classes meet once a week for 5 weeks with a break the week of April 22nd. Please check course dates carefully as there are some exceptions.  All courses will be held at Longmeadow High School unless otherwise noted.  Please also note that a discounted fee is available for those aged 62+ and for those who find the general fee to be cost prohibitive.  If the discounted fee presents a hardship please contact us as scholarships are available.  


    Click here for Online Registration


    Kindergarten: Facts about Grants from the State

    posted Mar 12, 2014, 9:49 AM by Dianne Georgantas   [ updated Mar 13, 2014, 6:04 AM ]

    Frequently Asked Questions

    About Kindergarten Grant Money from the State

    What grant money is available from the state for Kindergarten?

    ·         Massachusetts offers 2 different grants to school districts for Kindergarten.

    o   FC701 – Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   FC702 – Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    What are the criteria for each grant?

    ·         FC701- Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   All districts awarded a Fund Code 701 Quality Full-Day Kindergarten and/or a Fund Code 702 Transition to Full-Day Kindergarten grant in FY2013 are eligible to apply for this FY2014 Fund Code 701 grant.

    ·         FC702- Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   Competitive priority (preference over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the criteria) will be given to districts with the greatest need as defined by:

    §  higher percentages of low-income students;

    §  higher percentages of students who are English language learners; and

    §  lower Composite Performance Index (CPI) data for the 3rd grade MCAS assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

    o   Competitive priority (preference over an application of comparable merit that does not meet the criteria) will be given to districts with the greatest need as defined by:

    §  higher percentages of low-income students;

    §  higher percentages of students who are English language learners; and lower Composite Performance Index (CPI) data for the 3rd grade MCAS assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics.

    How much money is available through these grants?

    ·         FC701 – Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o    

    ·         FC702 – Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   A total of approximately $150,000 is available for this competitive grant. Funds will be awarded to eligible districts based on the following amount per classroom: up to $10,000 for each part-time kindergarten session to be transitioned to a full-day kindergarten classroom. Grant awards may be adjusted to a lower amount per classroom.

    How many districts apply for these grants?

    ·         FC702 – Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   8 proposals were received. 5 districts were awarded money and 3 districts were not recommended to receive fund.

     

    Who received these grants for FY2014?

    ·         FC701 – Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    ·         FC702 – Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   Billerica Public Schools           $90,000

    o   Hopkinton Public Schools        $20,000

    o   Mansfield Public Schools        $10,000

    o   Scituate Public Schools           $10,000

    o   Stoneham Public Schools        $20,529

    When do school districts apply for these grants?

    ·         FC701 – Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   FY14 FC 701 Quality Full-Day Kindergarten non-competitive grant applications were due August 15, 2013. See the Funding Opportunity documents for full details.

    ·         FC702 – Transition to Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   FY14 FC 702 Transition to Full-Day Kindergarten competitive grant applications were due October 15, 2013, and Intents to Apply were due September 26, 2013. Interested applicants were encouraged to participate in one of the optional informational webinars (held on September 30 and October 4, 2013).

    Is there any other criteria that is necessary for obtaining either of these grants?

    ·         FC701 – Quality Full Day Kindergarten Grant

    o   NAEYC Accreditation

    §  The Quality Full-Day Kindergarten grant program, which follows the Transition to Full-Day Kindergarten grant program, requires districts to seek accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This is an early childhood organization whose accreditation system is recognized by research to raise the level of program quality and improve child outcomes. a ratio of 1:11 in a class of 22 children; and a ratio of 1 staff person per 12 children for the maximum acceptable class size of 24.

    ·         For more information on accreditation, visit NAEYC Accreditation.

     

     

    All information provided may be found at http://www.doe.mass.edu/kindergarten/

    School Choice seats for 2014-15

    posted Mar 11, 2014, 5:39 AM by Dianne Georgantas

    The Longmeadow School Committee, at its meeting on March 10, 2014, voted to accept School Choice applications from students residing in the state of MA and interested in attending the Longmeadow Public Schools.  The School Committee opened 4 seats in the full-day kindergarten (fee-based) program.  The full-day kindergarten program in Longmeadow has a $3,000 fee associated with the program.  Parent(s)/Guardian(s) are responsible for payment of that fee.  Children who are entering kindergarten must be five years old by August 31, 2014.  

    Those interested in submitting an application for the full day kindergarten School Choice seats should complete an application available as an attachment to this page and return the application by the due date.

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