Parents Plead: Keep Falmouth High School Laboratory Technician

Patrick Dillon (left) and Robert Griffin present plans for updating the school's emergency plan at the 24 school committee meeting.
ELIZABETH W. SAITO/ENTERPRISE - Patrick Dillon (left) and Robert Griffin present plans for updating the school's emergency plan at the 24 school committee meeting.

Several parents and a high school student urged superintendent Bonny L. Gifford and the Falmouth School Committee to reconsider cutting Felicia McGinty, the high school’s laboratory technician. The position has existed for 42 years, and Ms. McGinty is vital in mentoring science fair participants and managing lab supplies, they said.

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In a rare move for the school committee, one of its own members spoke during the public comment period. Former chairman Judith Fenwick left her usual seat and addressed the rest of the board and Dr. Gifford, asking,

“Can we reconsider?” eliminating both the high school lab tech and the Lawrence School librarian.

Ms. Fenwick said she had been contacted by many of her constituents over the past two weeks who wanted to know why other initiatives at the school—a new kindergarten curriculum, Chromebook laptops for all 6th graders, and a re-instated administrative position—could not be put off to save money.

“What other shiny things can we postpone a year,” Ms. Fenwick asked, in order to save those two positions?

Although the Falmouth School Ccommittee must approve the total figure for the school budget, it generally leaves individual staffing decisions up to the school administration.

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The elementary schools will host a free reading camp this summer for students entering 3rd grade. Reading camp will run from July 8 to August 14 from 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

The brochure for the camp cites the statistic that children who are not reading “at grade level by the end of 3rd grade are four times less likely to graduate by age 19.”

Parents interested in enrolling their children should contact their child’s principal before July 1.

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A panel of school staff and town emergency personnel charged with updating the school’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan suggested several areas in need of improvement.

Clarifying protocols for the “reunification of parents and children after an emergency is a priority,” Morse Pond School principal Patrick J. Dillon said. Unifying language between buildings, so that a “modified lock-down” means the same thing at all schools, is another goal, he said.

“But we will never see the end line of this plan because it constantly evolves, and we can always make it better,” Mr. Dillon said.

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English department head for Lawrence School and Falmouth High School, Joanne M. Holcomb, will retire in December of next school year. From August to December, she will work with the district’s new assistant director of curriculum to develop literacy and writing programs.

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Two women have submitted applications for the one year school committee term left vacant by Samuel H. Patterson, who was elected to the board of selectmen in May. They are Gina L. Palanza and Heidi K. Marotta. Ms. Marotta served on the Falmouth school committee from 2004 to 2010. Ms. Palanza is a Teaticket PTO and school council member.

At a joint meeting between the school committee and the board of selectmen on July 14, the two boards will appoint Mr. Patterson’s replacement. Alan Jacobs is currently the only male serving on the school committee.

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Falmouth's curriculum director Mark C. Wilson presented on the new teacher evaluation system. Poor performance over multiple years may “result in an employment decision,” Mr. Wilson said.

Mr. Jacobs asked if teachers who fail to meet their improvement targets will be “subject to termination.”

“That’s correct,” Mr. Wilson answered.

Mr. Wilson said that discussions with teachers and union representatives have led “to good conversations about professional rights and responsibilities—not just professional rights.”

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Finance and facilities director Michael Ward resigned this month. Dr. Gifford gave a brief presentation in his stead. The broken fence that separates a playground at North Falmouth Elementary School from Old Main Road is a priority, she said.

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As usual, at the end of the meeting, each committee member reported on the school events they attended. Alan Jacobs said he frequently encounters people “who really aren’t happy with what’s going on” in the schools.
“I’m not getting a pat on the back. I’m getting tough questions,” he said.

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Tuesday was the last day of school for Falmouth public school students. 

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