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Entry Plan Report
Swampscott Public Schools
Entry Plan Report
Matthew H. Malone, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
The entry plan process was designed to assist me in developing a comprehensive understanding of the Swampscott Public Schools and the community of Swampscott, Massachusetts. The entry plan consisted of myriad components including interviews with students, faculty, staff, leadership, parents, community stakeholders, community leaders, the review of pertinent documents and student achievement data, and an action research immersion into the fabric of the community to gather both quantitative and qualitative data that would more likely prepare me to make informed judgments into the current state of the Swampscott Public Schools.
My initial superintendent transition strategy focused on a model known in the research literature as “sustaining success”. I based this strategy on the perceived reputation that the Swampscott Public Schools has within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and my initial analysis of student achievement data.
From the outset, let me be clear; the Swampscott Public Schools is a good public school system. This is a direct result of the determined work of a cadre of caring and effective teachers, strong site level leadership, sound governance, committed residents and taxpayers, and truly phenomenal students.
However, based on my entry plan analysis, I have retooled my superintendent transition strategy from “sustaining success” to “renewing success”. The gap between our being a good school system and becoming a great school system is not a wide one. In fact, becoming a great school system is within our reach if we can unify ourselves to create and implement the systems we will need to support an aligned and coherent theory of action focused on improving the instructional core at the classroom level. As such, I am proposing a five-year plan of deep organizational redesign to provide a roadmap for continuous improvement for all of our students in all six of our schools. The difference between great school systems and good school systems is that the great ones do not tinker around the margins of renewal and instead display tenacious and courageous leadership at all levels to reinvent, redesign, and recapture the hearts and minds of all of our stakeholders.
As current research suggests at the national level, there is no silver bullet or one best way to make the leap from good to great. Our success will depend on the collective intellect, skill, and will of all of us to redesign the systems needed for our unique school system. We need to honor the work and success of our educators and students for our past accomplishments. As a result of their work, we have the foundation in place. However, we must also be innovative in our design of the next steps so that our vision for the future guides our internal compass and points us in the right direction.
Theory of action; my personal belief system: Increase student achievement by improving instruction in every classroom for ALL students (ALL meaning EACH), at every grade level in each school, by focusing on renewing the conditions necessary for student success at each school 2
site (culture, structure, and instruction), aligning the instructional core and instructional operations of the district to support teacher practice in the classroom.
Goals of the 90 Day Entry Plan:
Entry Plan Purpose: To assist the superintendent in developing a comprehensive understanding and analysis of the Swampscott Public Schools, including the students, staff, and community stakeholders, leading to the creation of a report and recommendations. The initial components of this entry plan consisted of a series of interviews and meetings with individuals and groups, as well as a review of documents and plans, in an effort to develop a sense of the Swampscott Public Schools and provide a basis for the setting of future goals, objectives and activities.
The 90 day plan is broken into three main components based on three essential questions aimed at attaining key information and developing an action plan.
Days 1-30 “Where are we?”
Days 31-60 “Where do we need to go?”
Days 61-90 “How will we get there?”
Specific Objectives of Entry Plan:

 To get to know the Swampscott Public Schools; its staff, faculty, students, parents and community partners as fully as possible in a brief period of time, ascertaining critical information relating to values, beliefs, culture, structure, and instructional program.

 To begin to identify a set of cultural norms for how the organization will function in the future based on the norms which have governed the organization in the past.

 To review the ground rules and procedures which have governed how the school board has operated in the past, developing with the school board a set of ground rules and procedures that will govern future operations as necessary.

 To determine the key priorities in which the school board wants to concentrate for the next year, rank ordering them as a board.

 To begin to develop an action plan to address these key issues (what they are, how they will be addressed, who will be responsible, what will achievement look like, and how will results be measured).

 To begin to determine the key issues at the school site level.

 To begin to determine the key issues at the stakeholder level.

 To begin to clarify roles and responsibilities at the district and site levels.

Key Questions:

 How are we organized to support teaching and learning in the classroom?

 How are we organized to support school sites?

 How does our budget and budget process support our core values and priorities?

 How are external funds (Title I, Grants, etc.), aligned with supporting teaching and learning in the classroom?

 How do we use data to measure student achievement?

 How do we use data to analyze and inform classroom practice?

 How do we evaluate and measure programs?

 Is the core curriculum coherent and aligned with state standards K-12?
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 How effective is our professional development model to support teaching and learning in the classroom?

 How are decisions made and who makes them at the site and district levels?

 How are priorities established?

 How are discretionary dollars spent and who can spend them?

 How are new educational programs approved and reviewed?

 How do we assess teacher performance?

 How do we assess administrator performance?

 How do we assess student performance?

 At the end of the day, who is accountable?

Specific Activities of Entry Plan:

 Individual Interviews with various stakeholders. My goal was to meet with as many people as possible to speak about their broad perspective of the district at large. As such I met with many people to speak about specific issues and personal concerns that they may have had beyond those who are noted herein. The people noted herein are those who meet with me to speak about the system in the broader sense. *Note; each person listed below was provided a minimum of a 30 minute interview.

Governance: Dan Yaeger (SC Chair), Mary DeChillo (SC Vice Chair), Paula Bonazzoli (SC), Shelley Sackett (SC), Phil Rotner (SC), Jim Toomey (SC Legal Counsel), Mike Gilbert (MASC representative).
School Leaders: Michael Tarlow (Assistant Superintendent), Maureen Szymczak (Director of Student Services), Carolyn Murphy (Principal – Clarke), Kevin Cushman (Principal – Machon), Lois Longin (Principal – Hadley), Pamela Angelakis (Principal – Stanley), Carla Guarnieri (Principal on special assignment), Ron Landman (Principal – SMS), Sandra Rivers (Assistant Principal – SMS), Carol Blotner (Interim Principal – SHS), Martha Kelleher (Assistant Principal – SHS), Kristen Vogel (Assistant Principal – SHS), Steve O’Brien (former Principal – SHS), Tara Sisco (METCO Director)
Union Leadership: Paul Maguire (SEA President), Jon Flanagan (SEA Vice President), Mike Citino (SEA Vice President), Carl Reardon (Support Association).
Support Staff: Kathie Leonard (Superintendent’s office), Carol Brand (Superintendent’s office), Linda Perry (Business office), Nancy Kelly (Business office), Clare Gorman (Business office).
Teaching Faculty: John Solazzo (HS Guidance), Bill Bush (HS Phys. Ed.), Lindsay Coppens (HS ELA), Susan Kaplan (Stanley), Joanna Defeo (HS ELA), Chris Ratley (HS Math), Catherine Porter (SMS), Mona Blumstein (Special Education SPS), Ellen Morse (Extended Day Coordinator), Marisa Jackson Hedges (HS SS).
Parents: Ralph Bennett, Harriet Whalen, Brent Kimball, Glenn and Hilory Paster, Paul Mignone, Kirsten Fagone, Peter McNerney, Jen Nisbet, Ellen Long-Keller, Lorrie Generazzo, Pam Schorr, Sandy Tennant, Karyn Walsh (Hadley PTA), Matthew Poska, Marianne Hartman (Building Committee), Linda and Gordy Hall. *Note; many of the people mentioned in other interview categories are also parents of SPS students.
Coaches: Steve Dembowski (football), Frank DeFelice (baseball) 4
Swampscott Town Officials: Andrew Maylor (Town Manager), Chief Carmody (Fire Chief), Chief Madigan (Police Chief), Gino Cresta (Superintendent of Public Works), Dan Santanello (Selectman), Marc Paster (Selectman), Reid Cassidy (Selectman), Charlie Baker (Selectman), Bill Hyde (Selectman and former SFD Chief), Joe Markarian (Building Committee / Finance Committee), Martin Goldman (Town Moderator), Cinder McNerney (Finance Committee / Parent), Nick Menino (Building Committee / Parent), Lori Jackson (Building Committee / Parent / HS PTA), Rose Cheever (SPD / Detective / SRO), Ted Delano (SPD / Detective), Tim Cassidy (SPD / Detective), Christopher Mauriello (Building Committee / Parent), Mary Marrs (Finance Committee / NS Voc-Tec rep).
Community Stakeholders: Susan and Lou Spano, Kelly Cunningham, Lynn Havusha (parent of alumnae), Richard Feinberg (former School Committee), Kevin Breen (Fire Captain /former SC / HS BC), Bill Dimento (former SC), Gerry Perry (Mass Dept of Revenue), George Derringer and Neil Zolot(Swampscott Reporter), Carlo Capinigro (contractor), Jean Maguire (METCO, Inc Director), Henry Dembowski (former School Committee), Gail Reeh (former Nahant SC member and parent), Henry Collins and Debra Glidden (Lynn Item), Steve Lehmuehler (Salem Evening News), Phil Poinelli (Architect for the HS project), Dr. Brian Cousin (DMD, Rotary), Debra Macgregor (Essex County DA’s Office), Carrie Monahan (Essex County DA’s Office), Kristen Fraher (Essex County DA’s Office), Kate Keyes (Essex County DA’s Office), Cynthia Shannon (SUCCESS), Myron Stone.

 Community Meeting, Presentations, and Open Forums: Town Selectman Meeting, Town Meeting, HS Building Committee Meeting, HS PTA Meeting, Clarke PTA, HS Parent Open House, Rotary presentation, Marine Corps League (North Shore Detachment, Swampscott, Parent Open Forum (AM), Parent Open Forum (PM), HS Student Open Forum, Faculty / Staff Open Forum, HS Faculty and Staff Open Forum, SEA Executive Board Open Forum, SPS Opening Convocation, HS Renewal Presentation w/ SHS faculty and staff, Swampscott Senior Center board of directors, SHS football, cheerleader, Boys’ soccer, and Girls’ tennis teams.

 Swampscott At-Large Community: several football games, field hockey game, cross country meet, Pop Warner scrimmage, “powder puff” championship, chaperoned 12th grade dance, refereed high school dodge ball tournament, participant middle school dodge ball tournament, “Old Timer’s Dinner”, and 4th of July weekend festivities.

 School Instructional Walk-Through’s and Visitations: All Six Schools one per week.

 Elementary School Recess: Stanley, Hadley, and Clarke.

 Document Review: Budget documents FY 05 and FY 06, Strategic Plans, Collective Bargaining Agreements, Recent Financial Audits, Town Financial Plan, Policy Manual, Administrator Job Descriptions and Evaluations, Curriculum Guides, School Improvement Plans (each school’s yearly plan), Crisis response / emergency management plans for all sites, Handbooks and Promotional Material, Annual Town and/or School Reports, NEASC Accreditation Reports, DOE reports, MCAS reports, AYP Reports, Student Achievement Data, School Committee Meeting Minutes and Agendas 04-05, Program Evaluations and Forms, Pending Litigation, Special Education Appeals,
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Hearings, and Decisions, Organization Chart, Teacher Evaluation Process and Products, School Committee Goals 04-05, Capital Improvement Plan and Policies (master plan), HS Building Architectural Drawings, Town-School Partnership Agreement, Swampscott – Nahant Agreement, Special Education Reports, METCO Reports, Expulsion Reports.

Major Findings:
The entry plan process allowed me to interact with a significant and diverse number of stakeholders both adults and students. These interactions occurred both during the school day and outside of the normal school day in order for me to more fully focus on areas of strength and areas of concern. In addition, the document review provided me with a history of what currently exists in place as well as how effectively these materials are utilized on a day to day basis. The major findings of the entry plan process are as follows:
1. Tradition, Pride, and Passion: Swampscott has a strong sense of tradition and as a community, takes great pride in our robust past accomplishments and current achievements. There is a great deal of pride within the community and within the school system. The “BIG BLUE” is synonymous with high achievement in the classroom, on the ball fields, and on the stage. The Swampscott Public Schools has a great deal of spirit.
2. The Swampscott School Committee: The School Committee is a group of people with a strong commitment to the Swampscott Public Schools. The group is composed of people with diverse interests, communication and management styles, who all share common expectations for the improvement of student achievement standards for all students within the Swampscott Public Schools. The School Committee does an exceptional job of working together as a governing body and with the superintendent in the establishment of priorities for the school system. The school committee cares deeply about our system of public education and is committed to continuous improvement.
3. Record of strong academic achievement: We have demonstrated success in strong student achievement on the state MCAS assessments. The entire district deserves credit for these achievements. A few of our highlights are as follows:

10th Grade ELA MCAS
Proficient / Advanced
Growth
2005
81%
2002
79%
2%
2005 10th gr. cohort in 7th gr. (2002)
78%
3%
10th Grade Math MCAS
Proficient / Advanced
Growth
2005
78%
2002
60%
18%
2005 10th gr. cohort in 8th gr. (2003)
60%
18%
3rd Grade Reading 2005
100% passed