The formation of the 13-member group last week was a result of the school being named one of six underperforming schools by state education officials on Nov. 14 due to consistently low test scores and other criteria.
If the school doesn't show significant growth in three years the state could put it into receivership.
Tonight’s meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Bentley School, is open to the public.
“I am really looking forward to getting started with the rest of the stakeholder group,” Leanne Schild, the loan Bentley parent on the committee, said via email yesterday. “We will have a lot of work to do these next few months but I am confident that we will come up with the right solutions for a successful turnaround. I feel that, with the support of the Salem community behind us, we are already headed in the right direction.”
Joanne Scott, the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, is also on the committee.
“I’m looking forward to lending assistance any way I can to solve the problem in the schools," Scott said during a phone interview yesterday.
“This is brand new process for me and I imagine most people who will be involved and I think initially we need to figure out what exactly is the problem and work backwards from there to figure out how to solve it.”
Besides Schild and Scott, the stakeholder’s group includes a State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education representative (Amanda Trainor), a School Committee designee (Brendan Walsh), the teacher’s union president (Joyce Harrington), a administrator from the Bentley (Principal Renata MacFarland), two Bentley teachers (Edward Mercier and Gabrielle Montevechi), a social service representative (Mari Matt of the Salem YMCA), a representative from a workforce development agency (Mary Sarris of North Shore Workforce Board Association) Department of Early Education and Care representative (Lynd Coffill) and two community members (Kathy Winn and Rosario Ubiera Minaya.)
The group has until Jan. 28 to submit recommendations to the superintendent, and a draft of the school's turnaround plan has to be sent to the School Committee and state education commissioner by Feb. 27. A turnaround plan has to be set by April 27 so it can be implemented by the fall.
“Certainly I’m not an expert on the problem, no one else in the group is, but we are well intended, well meaning, well educated people who have really shown a commitment to kids in Salem. I’m sure all together we can come up with good solution,” said Scott, whose three children all graduated from the Salem school system.
“And we have a time table to work with so that will be quite motivating. … We have to [find a solution] there is no choice here. We have to come to a good solution.”
Justin A. Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.