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Parents at Lynch Given Option to Change Schools

Because Lynch is a Title I school and is considered a failing school, according to No Child Left Behind, parents can opt to move out of Lynch and to another school in the district.

is a Title I school, but it is also considered a “failing” school, according to No Child Left Behind. , Lynch is considered a school that needs improvement.

Since Lynch is a Title I school and a “failing” school, the district is required to give parents a school choice option.

Lynch parents will receive a form this week and will have the option to transfer their children to another school within the district. Parents will have 14 days from receiving the letter to make the decision.

If parents choose to change schools, they need to rank the other schools in the district, according to which one they would like their child to attend. Parents can only choose between Lincoln, Muraco, or Vinson-Owen/Parkhurst.

According to Superintendent William McAlduff, students from low-income homes get first priority. After that, the school administration decides (based on the parents’ ranking) what school to send the children too. McAlduff said that the district cannot use “lack of capacity” as an excuse when deciding assignments.

If a student is going to switch schools, the district would need to provide transportation if the students’ home is more than two miles away from their new school.

“I believe the Lynch School community is much more than the MCAS scores,” McAlduff said. “That is just a small success of the students at Lynch.”

“I’m concerned about the school choice,” said School Committee chair, Chris Linskey. “I’m not sure how this will effect the community.”

Improvement Plan

At the next School Committee meeting, McAlduff plans on unveiling the district’s Intervention Pilot Plan, to help struggling students at Lynch.

The pilot plan, which if approved by the School Committee would go into effect this year, would help Lynch students who are in the failing/warning or the needs improvement category for the MCAS.

McAlduff said that the program would either be after or before school or a combination of both. It’s a program that’s already provided at the high school.

Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 26, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Why are students from low-income homes given priority? Why is Ambrose not an option? When would students be leaving Lynch and becoming students at the other schools?
Daniel Marra October 26, 2011 at 09:11 PM
Hi Lauren, Thanks for the comment. Here's my understanding, students from low-income homes are given priority because that's what it says in No Child Left Behind. Ambrose isn't an option because they're also a Needs Improvement School, so kids from one "failing" school can't go to another. However, since Ambrose isn't a Title I school, those students are not allowed to switch schools. If any parent decides to have their children switch schools, it would begin next year. And even if Lynch improves its MCAS scores, those students can stay at their new school until they can move up to McCall. I hope that answers your questions. Thanks, Dan
Rachel October 26, 2011 at 10:43 PM
I'm still confused as to why low income families have priority over which schools they would like to transfer too. Can you expand on the contents of "No Child Left behind" policy? I cannot see one valid reason why they have priority over other families. It reads discrimination.
Daniel Marra October 26, 2011 at 11:45 PM
Hi Rachel, I pasted below what I found online about low-income families. If you go to this link: http://www.doe.mass.edu/sda/choice.html and open the "Federal Non-Regulatory Guidance on Public School Choice under NCLB" document, the info. is in there. But here is the section about low income families receiving priority: "An LEA (Local Education Authority) must provide all students in a school identified for school improvement, corrective action or restructuring the opportunity to transfer to another public school. In implementing the option to transfer, however, certain circumstances may require an LEA to give priority to the lowest-achieving students from low-income families. For example, if not all students can attend their first choice of schools, an LEA would give first priority in assigning spaces to the lowest-achieving low-income students. Similarly, if an LEA does not have sufficient funds to provide transportation to all students who wish to transfer, it would apply this priority in determining which students receive transportation."
Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 27, 2011 at 12:43 AM
It sounds like the assumption is that the lowest achieving students are also from the low income families, which makes no sense at all, but we can't expect government policy to make sense, now, can we? And if the school system cannot use "lack of capacity" as an excuse when assigning schools, why is priority necessary? It seems like all Lynch parents would be able to choose any of the 3 schools. Will they have to split the students up equally between the 3 schools? And it is difficult to imagine that capacity isn't an issue, because local fire codes do limit the number of people in a classroom based on the square foot of the room. Also, my understanding that the Winchester teachers have class size limits written into their contracts, so that will complicate matters as well.
swimmom October 27, 2011 at 02:15 AM
Rachel and Lauren Must be nice to sit up on your high horse. What does low income mean to you? Not all of us living in Winchester are rich. We live in this town because of the great schools. Not all kids from Lynch are low income and why not give them priority? Cause it inconviences the higher class to have to attend school with poor kids? News flash, all of these kids will be in the same school at McCall and WHS. I wonder what school district your in? Just remember what people in glass houses shouldn't do
RWinchester October 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM
Swimmom, What is up with the personal attach on Rachel and Lauren? You have no idea their lot in life same as I have no idea about your life. All they are saying is that these kids are both going to the same school and getting the same subpar education. I think the point of moving kids from a Failing school should be to get the kids a good education. I don't see why a "rich" kid needs that education less than a "poor" kid. Why should that come into play? As you say all the kids will be mixed in the middle and high school so why at this level do we give preference to low income. I personally don't think income should even be considered as a criteria but since the law says so the Town must follow the law.
Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 27, 2011 at 10:43 AM
Swimmom, you seriously need to take a deep breath. My questions were all perfectly valid. You have NO IDEA what you are talking about and I am NOT interested in playing class warfare games with you. I am not "rich", not that it matters in this discussion. My husband and I bought a house we could barely afford BECAUSE of the school system in this town. I grew up here and I wanted the same quality education for my kids. Just because someone at Lynch is not "low income" does NOT mean that they can afford private school. I stand by my position that there is no valid reason to give priority to any child at Lynch simply because of their parents' income. As stated above, that is the way that the law is written and the town has to follow the law, but it simply does not make sense. I am perfectly aware that all of these kids will end up at McCall and WHS, but how does that fact support your opinion that "low income kids" should have priority. And as I taxpayer, I will throw stones as I see fit.
Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM
Growing up in this town, my parents taught me an important lesson...there are always going to be people who have more than you and there will always be people who have less - appreciate how lucky you are. And let go of the bitterness and jealousy, as it will get you nowhere.
Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM
And the fact that Ambrose is the other Winchester school that is in trouble proves the point that income has NOTHING to do with the problems in the schools.
Logic October 27, 2011 at 02:23 PM
The scores at Lynch seem to be FAR below the scores at all of the other schools. And yes, there may be more ELL students there, but doesn't Lynch also have the highest student/teacher ratios in the district for Kindergarten? I think they are even exceed the town's guidelines for the ratio.
Susan Verdicchio October 27, 2011 at 03:05 PM
The MCAS scores specifically for Lynch are here: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/ayp/ayp_report/school.aspx?linkid=31&orgcode=03440020&orgtypecode=6&#
DonnaD October 27, 2011 at 04:55 PM
My children received a fine education at Lynch and are now happy and performing very well in selective private high schools. The school has a dedicated and hard-working staff, and a vibrant spirit. I just received this in an email at work, and it seems to apply: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community October 27, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I don't think there is an assumption that the lowest achieving students are also from low income families. The excerpt from the DESE website says first priority is given to the "lowest achieving low income students." In other words, both low achieving AND low income.
Suburbanmama October 27, 2011 at 06:17 PM
It does seem like there should be more follow-up by school officials than "blaming" ELL students. Muraco has a higher percentage of ELL students and no problem with the test scores. So what is the difference?
Lauren Tavares Fogarty October 27, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Muraco and VO both have a higher percentage of "limited English proficiency" students at 8.6%. The percentage at Lynch is 5%.
Joe Peters October 30, 2011 at 12:58 AM
Let me help some of you out here. Have you ever read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?" Well this whole mess of an issue is a bit like "If you give the federal government and education program." No Child Left Behind is a federal initiative (Bush Administration in specific). Education is a state responsibility/service via the Constitution. Here in Mass. the state administers that service municipally (cities and towns have their own school committees, etc.). So .... when you have someone run for president and they want to pander to electorate with claims of fixing the nation's schools, it is a fairly hollow promise because the federal government has very little to do with education. So how they do it is they invent programs likes NCLB and connect them to other federal programs (like Title 1). That's how you get these messy connections between income and test scores. The shame of it is here we have people taking offense, calling each other names, when we should really be focused at those pandering state and national politicians. Essentially Bush supported a platform of school choice and standardized testing and he got into all our schools through NCLB whose hook to Winchester is Title 1. Now if you know the history of Title 1, that came during Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." Essentially Title 1 was all about making sure the disadvantaged economic or otherwise, had fair access to education.
Mayberry Mom October 30, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Lauren and Daniel, Just to clarify that families who take advantage of school choice are given a 14 day window to do so and are assigned one of the three schools within 2 days and children are immediately moved to the new school-not next year. This was explained to me by both the principal and the superintendent.
Susan Verdicchio October 31, 2011 at 11:50 AM
No Child Left Behind requires all schools to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" toward achieving 100% proficiency by 2014. Realistic? An article about a New Hampshire middle school in today's newspaper notes that 90% of NH schools are expected to be "failing" under NCLB by next spring. Here in Winchester, schools are making improvement plans to help the students in each school, to be implemented this year. Here's the NH article http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/education/no-child-left-behind-catches-up-with-new-hampshire-school.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

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