In a spirited meeting of the Englewood School Board, the team tackled a broad spectrum of topics, with a significant focus on advancing math and reading proficiency, reimagining the middle school culture, and bolstering sustainability.
Superintendent Dr. Hazelton, in her inaugural board meeting, applauded the graduating class of 2023. She showcased the impressive work of Dwight Morrow high school club, Mission Green, represented by students Luana Case and Lena Kim. The students proposed an environmentally conscious agenda to make Englewood more sustainable, including plans to reduce food waste, plant more trees, and hold school cleanups.
In a deep dive into the operations of Genesis Middle School, the board revealed their revamped schedule, which extends instructional time and incorporates a core values class centered around conflict resolution and decision-making. Strategies to decide on student placements in honors programs were also discussed, alongside specific interventions for English as a Second Language (ESL) and special-ed students.
The board’s strategy for ESL learning was scrutinized, with an additional ESL teacher budgeted for, and tiered ESL classes proposed based on students’ English proficiency levels. Amid the discourse, one member commented, “We’re finding that we have to place them accordingly so the teachers have the ability to be targeted and apply the appropriate rigor.”
One contentious topic was the use of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s assessment software, which helps evaluate students’ performance relative to grade-level proficiency. The influx of ESL students and the ratio of paraprofessionals to students in the classroom raised additional concerns, leading to a rich discussion around grouping strategies and linguistic differences between Spanish-speaking regions.
Significant improvements were noted in math scores for the general student population and economically disadvantaged students. However, the board also expressed dissatisfaction with current proficiency levels and emphasized the importance of improvement. A poignant moment arose as the board mourned the loss of the AVID program, known for preparing students for high standards and rigor, calling for its reinstatement.
Finally, the board discussed the importance of school culture, competition with other educational institutions, and the role of Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) in their schools. Noting the lack of a high school PTO, the board still highlighted the significant turnout at middle school events due to the school’s core values, teachers, students, and administrators.
In the same discussion, middle school culture was another significant focus. One speaker celebrated a “rebirth” and “reinvigoration” in the middle school, attributing a decrease in student suspensions and increased staff attendance to enhanced relationships with students. School beautification, parent outreach, and a unique counselor-led program offering support during recess and lunch were spotlighted as crucial parts of this cultural transformation.
The board concluded the session with a state-mandated presentation on pre and post-pandemic student academic data, emphasizing the need to focus on student progress.