While other local districts are wrapping up last year’s initiatives, Marblehead’s is preparing for new programs and challenges.
The priorities for this year’s elementary schools in Marblehead — Lucrecia and Joseph Brown School as well as Glover School — include making sure both elementary school experiences are aligned.
“When we opened the Brown School, it was an opportunity for Glover and Brown to make sure that curriculum, instruction and assessment were aligned so we can become a school system,” said Dr. John Buckey, superintendent for the Marblehead Public Schools.
Currently, both elementary schools are in the second year of implementing a math curriculum and putting together an exploratory committee for a comprehensive literacy curriculum.
“There is ongoing DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] work. We have iReady, which is an assessment program, in its second year, so a lot of initiatives are at play in the district currently,” said Buckey.
In the next five years, the elementary schools will work under a strategic plan called “Plan for Success.” Each year they will work on a strategic initiative with five pillars, including curriculum, instruction and assessments, teacher satisfaction, technology, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It’s remarkable the work that Hope and Mary have been able to do with their staff. In building culture and looking at data and aligning the experiences so that third grade is third grade, and not contingent on the neighborhood, on your school, or the classroom that you are assigned,” said Buckey.
Marblehead Schools projected a decline in enrollment but numbers have increased with the use of NESDEC (New England School Development Council), which provides an enrollment projection twice a year.
“Certainly, the pandemic impacted enrollment, but this year we are actually seeing enrollment increase for families that have left during the pandemic to go to a private school or homeschooling or different educational experience coming back to the district,” said Buckey.
To ensure safety for the elementary schools, there is a safety committee made up of all the buildings’ principals, the chief of police, the fire chief, the head of the ambulance service and representatives from the Charter School.
This school year, they have installed additional security cameras, card swipe technology and replaced radios. “We are doing a lot of work to make sure the schools are safe,” said Buckey.
According to Buckey, the Brown School is a state-of-the-art building that has several security features to ensure students and staff are safe.
The district has an fiscal year 2023 budget of $43.98 million, with an estimated 14 percent of it coming from Chapter 70 and the remaining amount coming from local tax receipts.
At a meeting planned for Jan. 17 with the School Committee, the principals and directors will give their budget requests, which will provide a better idea of the budget constraints and whether the district needs more to fulfill their needs for the school year.
When asked if the district is planning to ask for additional funding, Buckey responded, “I think that we are asked to do two budgets: to do a level service look forward and then to look at what we need to effectively operate the schools. I think that we will provide both of those to the community for their consideration.”
“I am proud of the work that Mary and Hope are doing, bringing the creativity and innovation that they have brought to the schools, and the school culture that is thriving, and people enjoying being in the work and aligning the experiences so that the children and families of Marblehead benefit,” added Buckey.