The School Committee’s new policy sub-group — led by Jenn Schaeffner and Alison Taylor — discussed adding a second recess in the elementary schools at its first meeting on August 4.
“We would need to work with the administration to see how that could happen,” Schaeffner said in the Zoom meeting. “I strongly consider we amend the [wellness] policy to include two recesses.”
Elementary schools went from two to one recess to ensure that students were meeting state standards for “time on learning.” Taylor said recess should be included in time on learning.
“There is no statute or rule that says time on learning is not inclusive of putting on your snow pants and waiting in line patiently, learning how to walk as a class in line,” she said.
Schaeffner said she researched recess times in other districts.
“In Norwood, the physical activity policy, as recommended by Shape America, is 60-minutes a day of physical activity. That’s inclusive of PE.”
Lexington’s policy is that two recess breaks will be provided and that schools can’t withhold recess as a punishment. Newburyport has one recess, Schaeffner said.
Karla Stroble has three kids in Marblehead schools and spoke at the meeting.
“I am an advocate of two recesses in the school,” she said.
Mom Naomi Casselli agreed and said having only one recess put a lot of stress on her kindergartener last year.
“It’s really, really critical that he gets time to move. I really encourage you to reconsider that recess plan. Now that he’s going to be in first grade, I worry it will be worse.”
Acting Superintendent Michelle Cresta spoke up to say it may be too late for any recess changes this year.
“The schedules have already been set for this year. I would hesitate to move anything ahead really quickly. We are welcoming teachers back in two-and-a-half weeks right now. I reviewed the schedules with the union as well. It does involve union negotiations and principal schedules. We can visit this issue, but it’s not going to happen overnight. There are reasons that this change was made, so I don’t want to rush into anything. I just want to caution you.”
New Assistant Superintendent for Learning Julia Ferreira agreed that schedules are already set. “We really just need to sit down with you at the table. We would love to collaborate, if we could slow down the process and all sit down and collaborate.”
New rule for coaches
Schaeffner proposed that all Marblehead school athletic coaches become MIAA certified and Cresta said that was already in the works.
Only seven of Marblehead’s 25 or so coaches are MIAA certified. The cost for each certification is $95, according to Cresta.
“At the current time we are planning on using one-time funds, most likely coming from a donation fund, to cover the cost of having all athletic coaches MIAA certified,” she told the Current.
Schaeffner wants to update the district’s policy for handling public complaints. Right now, policy dictates that complaints go first to the teacher, then the school building administrator (principal), superintendent and, finally, the School Committee.
“I’d like to consider adding some verbiage memorializing and documenting complaints that come up the chain of command; that we have some kind of policy around how those will be documented and filed electronically, so there is some kind of electronic paper trail before it gets to the superintendent or school committee,” Schaeffner said.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.