Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January 2020

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a safe and healthy 2020.

This blog post will provide an update on the Dale Street Project and the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Please remember to follow me at @JeffreyJMarsden and @DaleStProject for updates on Twitter. Search #medfieldps to see all of the great experiences happening in our schools. Don't forget to join the over 1,300 people that have downloaded our new app from the Apple Store or Google Play. Search "Medfield Public Schools, MA"  

Click here to see some recent Medfield Public Schools' news stories!

Dale Street Project Update

School Committee Chair Anna Mae O'Shea Brooke sharing at a recent visioning meeting.
The important visioning process continues to move forward. The Education Visioning Group consists of teachers, parents, town officials, administrators, and community members. This group has been working with consultant David Stephen to begin the visioning process for a new elementary school. The process will continue on January 28th and again on February 4th. The February 4th meeting will also include the second Community Forum beginning at 7:00 PM in the Dale Street Cafeteria. This will give anyone in the community an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. A third Community Forum will be on February 24th at 7:00 PM in the Dale Street Cafeteria.

Last week, a design team from Arrowstreet met with all teachers and staff to hear about their learning goals and priorities. This information will be used as the basis for the creation of the Dale Street Educational Plan. This plan is required by the Massachusetts Schoool Building Authority (MSBA) and is a key document in the design process. Also, members of the design team, our project manager, the Chair of the School Building Committee, Mike Quinlan, and I met with the Medfield Energy Committee to discuss sustainability features for the potential new school.

Two major decisions related to the project will take place during the spring; site selection and grade configuration. Our focus for site selection was on town-owned land with potential for school construction. The following sites were reviewed: Red Gate Farm, McCarthy Park, Hospital Hill/Sledding Hill, Hospital Campus, Dale Street School (existing site), and Wheelock site (land behind the school). It was determined that the only two viable sites are the Dale Street site and the Wheelock site. More analysis and public input will be done on both sites prior to any decision. Another major decision is related to the grade configuration of the new school. The MSBA has given us two options; a Grades 4 and 5 school or a Grades 3,4, and 5 school. Projected student enrollment, teacher/staff input, as well as parent/community input will all be considered before any decision is made. To participate in the Dale Street School grade configuration survey click here.

The Dale Street School Project website can be found here.

FY21 Initial Budget

It is that time of year again as we begin to build the budget for the 2020-2021 school year or also called the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. After many meetings with principals, directors and department leaders, we presented an initial budget to the Medfield School Committee on December 19th. School Committee members Jess Reilly and Meghan Glenn are serving on the FY21 Budget Subcommittee.  This version of the budget is our first pass "draft" which includes additional personnel and supplies requested from each building. The current budget increase stands at 4.02%. The FY21 Public Hearing will take place on January 30th at 7:30 PM in the Lowell Mason Auditorium at MHS. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

The Initial FY21 Budget presentation and a detailed line item FY21 Budget can be found here.

Did you know?

Our SEL Task Force at a recent meeting. This group of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members is tackling important issues such as student and teacher wellness, school schedules, and student use of mobile devices.
  • You can now access the same documents and informational items the Medfield School Committee receives prior to each meeting. Many items of interest can be found here.
  • The Office of Social Emotional Learning has a great website with outstanding resources for students and parents including Challenge Success and SEL Task Force. Click here.
  • Medfield is a member of INTERFACE- a referral service for mental health support. Their helpline is 617-332-3666  X1411 or 888-244-6843 X1411.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

November Post




School Cancellations, Delays, Dismissals...

We will once again utilize the Blackboard-Connect System to notify parents if school is closed, delayed, or dismissed early. The phone call will be sent to each household and parent cell phone number that is currently on file with the district.
Yes...it will be here soon.

In addition to the phone call, the announcement will appear on:
  • A push notification from our App (Download from the Apple Store/Google Play-This will be done first!
  • Twitter- Follow me @JeffreyJMarsden
  • Television Stations: Boston 25, WBZ 4, WCVB 5, and WHDH 7
  • Our district website: www.medfield.net
Please remember that there will be times when school is not cancelled, delayed, or dismissed early and the weather is still inclement. Those days will feature slower travel for buses and cars, but will not necessarily require a change in the normal schedule. Important:  If you feel it is unsafe for travel, you always have the option to keep your child home.

Friday, October 11, 2019

October Post


We have had a great start to the 2019-2020 school year! This blog post will feature an update on the Dale Street Project, a money-saving energy initiative and our new Director of Instruction and Innovation.  Please remember to follow me on Twitter@JeffreyJMarsden and follow #medfieldps to see all of the wonderful learning experiences happening in your schools! A special welcome to our families that are new to Medfield.
IMPORTANT- The Town's EEE curfew will be moved to 6:00 on October 15th

New App is Launched!



Dale Street School Project

The Dale Street Project continues to move forward. Next week School Building Committee Chair Mike Quinlan, School Committee member Leo Brehm, Principal Steve Grenham, Director of Finance Michael La Francesca and I will be attending a Massachusetts School Building Authority meeting that will decide a "shortlist" of architects. Please see the graphic below for more information.






Upgrade to Save Over $90,000

We are pleased to announce that the Medfield Public School District will save an estimated $91,000 per year in energy costs thanks to a project that will replace all of the light bulbs and several fixtures in each of the district's five schools.
In total, all 6,363 light bulbs will be replaced with ENERGY STAR Certified LED light bulbs at Medfield High School, Blake Middle School, Memorial School, Dale Street School, and Wheelock School. There will also be dozens of outdated light fixtures replaced as part of the project that began in early August and is expected to be completed by the end of October. Eversource in partnership with Illuminate Mass and Commonwealth Electric Company, fully funded the project, with no cost to the district.
LED light bulbs are said to use less energy and last longer than traditional light bulbs. In addition to funding the new bulbs and fixtures, Eversource is also paying for the recycling and disposal of all the old bulbs and fixtures that were replaced.
These new LED lights have truly made our schools brighter, not only aesthetically, but in our efforts to help make our schools as green and environmentally friendly as possible. We thank Eversource and its partners for their generosity in providing this tremendous service at absolutely no cost to the district. 
Through energy audits provided by Illuminate Mass, the district is estimated to save approximately $200,000 in equipment and labor costs due to the project. In addition, once all of the new fixtures and bulbs are installed by Commonwealth Electric, the district is estimated to save an additional $90,078 in annual energy costs. Special thanks to Director of Facilities Amy Colleran for spearheading this project!


Medfield Resident (and Parent) Christine Power hired as the Director of Instruction and Innovation
We are excited that Christine Power has been hired as the district’s new Director of Instruction and Innovation! Mrs. Power holds a Master of Education in Learning and Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a PhD Candidate at Boston College with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction. The Director of Instruction and Innovation position has been open for the last year so we’re pleased to welcome Mrs. Power and the experience she brings to this important role. Bringing innovation into the curriculum is important in order for our district to keep up with the constantly changing environment of education.

In this new role, Mrs. Power will work directly with the district’s faculty and administrators to focus and reflect on curriculum development and teacher practice. This will include evaluating how assessments in the district impact curriculum and exploring meaningful initiatives for teacher professional development.

Prior to returning to Medfield, Mrs. Power was the Director of Practicum Partnerships and Professional Development at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education where she worked with pre-service and in-service PK-12 teachers to improve their practice.

"Through my previous position at Medfield High School, I know that I love the K-12 environment and the Medfield district," Power said.  "Since I’ve returned, I’ve been able to see Medfield’s increased focus on innovation and the expanded opportunities for teachers to think beyond what has been considered traditional curriculum and instruction. I was excited to be given the opportunity to return and make a difference and I hope to help the district build upon all the great initiatives I’ve seen since my return."

Mrs. Power has served on the boards of the Massachusetts Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and the New England Research Organization (NEERO). She participated in numerous Department of Elementary and Secondary Education task forces and presented and presented at several national and regional conferences on the topic of teacher development and assessment.



The first Superintendent Parent Advisory of the year is on October 16th at 9:30 in the Blake Middle School Library. All parents are welcome!










Thursday, April 11, 2019

April Update


This April Update will have important FY20 Budget information, a recap of Design Your Learning Day, the recent One Love training at MHS and important links for parents. Don't forget to visit #medfieldps or Twitter or Google to see all of the great experiences our kids are having in the Medfield Public Schools! I wish all of you an awesome April break!

FY20 Budget Update

The Medfield School Committee voted unanimously to support a revised, lower FY20 budget proposal to present at Medfield Town Meeting later this month. The Warrant Committee also voted to support the budget at it's March 29th meeting.
The revised budget included a reduction of the proposed budget increase from 4.54% to 3.99%. The reduction will help the town to bring a balanced budget to residents at Town Meeting on April 29th and avoid the need for an override.The revised budget now comes in at $36,471,424, a 3.99% increase from the FY19 budget of $35,070,766.
I am pleased that the school committee has accepted the newly proposed budget for FY20 and we are confident that we are presenting a sound, balanced school budget for Medfield residents to consider at Town Meeting. Our goal each year is to always look for ways to keep our budget as low as possible, while still being able to provide an exceptional education and learning environment for our students.
The reductions in the revised proposal, which total $190,030, included freezing the FY19 Budget on March 25 and using the $85,000 in savings toward the special education tuition rates in the FY20 Budget, and taking out a $30,000 increase to the technology budget. There were also individual retirement and leave of absence personnel matters that were resolved that further reduced the district's spending.  A new kindergarten teacher will be added to address increased enrollment and multiple part-time positions would be added to the special education department, including a teacher, transitional coordinator, and psychologist.

Medfield School Committee Chair Anna Mae O' Shea Brooke added, "The goal at the beginning of this process was to put a school budget forward to residents that meet the needs of all students and staff for the next fiscal year and beyond. I believe this budget has met that goal and hopefully residents agree at Town Meeting in a few weeks."
The overall increase to the FY20 budget would help to maintain most current staffing levels and programs district-wide. The budget would also allow the district to fund increases in teacher salaries and compensation and all other collective bargaining agreements, fund increases to student transportation costs and fund increases in professional development initiatives. Please remember to attend Town Meeting on April 29th at 7:00 in the MHS gym.
Additional budget documents can be found here.

Design Your Learning Day-2019




Medfield's Design Your Learning Day (DLD) was held at Medfield High School on April 4 and featured over 100 professional development programs, activities and education sessions that teachers could take part in throughout the day. There were also multiple speakers who gave presentations about a variety of educational and experiential subjects. Teachers from across Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire traveled to Medfield to take part in the event.
In 2012, Medfield's DLD began as a small professional development day for Medfield teachers focused on technology. Since then, the program has grown and evolved to include teachers from across Massachusetts and other states and covers a variety of topics and activities focused on good teaching practices, social and emotional well-being for students and teachers and the latest in education technology trends.
Our teachers and teachers from districts all over the region look forward to this event every year. Being able to bring so many educators together to collaborate and learn from one another truly is a special experience. The DLD Committee of Neal Sonnenberg, Diane Horvath, Kerry Cowell, Kate Jones, Ann Lodge, and Stephanie Worthley did an amazing job planning this event. There were also about 25 student volunteers who, on their day off from school, helped out during the event.
Some of the sessions offered this year included a yoga class, a cooking class, a data analytics course, a program on examining grading practices, sessions on coding, a student-led course on E-sports, a student-led session on LBGTQ inclusivity and programs about augmented and virtual reality.
Neal Sonnenberg, Technology Integration Specialist summed it up best, "DLD gives teachers the freedom to choose which topics they would like to learn about and offers insight into what other school districts are teaching and how they approach education and learning. The teachers get an opportunity to learn from one another while giving each other new ideas and methods to use in their own classrooms." 
The day started in the auditorium with five teachers giving short speeches called "Passion Pitches" to those in attendance. The attendees then broke off into four different sessions that they chose to participate in throughout the day. At the end of the day, a short video presentation done by student volunteers was shown giving the highlights of the event and a final Passion Pitch was given to wrap things up.
The DLD Passion Pitch presenters Nat Vaughn, Principal of Blake Middle School in Medfield; Jed Stefanowicz, Natick Public Schools and Natick Innovation Fellow; Kim Zajac, Norton Public Schools Speech and Language Pathologist; Melinda Lohan, Medfield High School Social Studies Teacher; Julie Lowerre, 5th Grade Teacher at Dale Street School in Medfield; Rayna Freedman, 5th Grade Teacher Mansfield Public Schools. 

"One Love"Training for Healthy Relationships

The One Love Foundation recently visited Medfield High School and gave an in-depth presentation to seniors about understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Founded in 2010, the One Love Foundation works to educate people about how to maintain healthy relationships, while teaching them about the signs of unhealthy relationships that they or their friends and loved ones may be in.

On Tuesday, April 2, all Medfield High School seniors attended a video presentation by the One Love Foundation and then broke into small discussion groups led by student facilitators. This initiative is led by Mr. Parga, Principal and Dr. Worthley, the Director of Social-Emotional Learning.

"In a few months our seniors will no longer be walking the halls of Medfield High School and many will find themselves away from home at college or in the workforce," Worthley said. "As they venture off on their own, some will soon begin new relationships. We want all of our graduating seniors to know how to build a healthy relationship, how to get out of relationships that aren't working and how to identify unhealthy behaviors. One Love's presentation does a great job of teaching those important skills to young adults."

The week before the presentation, a One Love staffer came to speak with 32 MHS seniors to train them to be group facilitators. The group facilitators were taught how to lead the discussion with their peers following the video presentation. They were taught what warning signs to look out for and how to help someone who may be in an unhealthy relationship.

The 40-minute video, shown to the approximately 190 students in the senior class, follows the story of a girl in college who is in a relationship with her boyfriend. The girl's friends and family members present her with warning signs that she is in a bad relationship. After the video, the students broke out into the group discussions led by the student facilitators.

"The group discussions really resonated with the students because they were able to candidly talk about these issues among their peers," Mr. Parga said. "I want to commend the students for their maturity in dealing with this serious topic and hopefully they all took away the fact that there is help available if you find yourself in a bad relationship."

Some warning signs of an unhealthy relationship include:
  • An imbalance of power in the relationship, a feeling of ownership and having one partner isolate the other partner from their friends and family
  • A partner who is controlling in general. Tries to control who their partner talks to, where they go, who they're friends with, etc.
  • Physical or verbal abuse
  • On again, off again relationships
How to help a friend in an unhealthy relationship:
  • Be supportive
  • Talk to your friend or loved one
  • Focus the discussion on the unhealthy behaviors
  • Don't place blame on the friend or loved one
  • Offer solutions and help in the future
For more information, visit the One Love Foundation's website here.


Important Links