School Improvement Plan

2016-2018 Argenziano School Improvement Plan 

2017-2018 School Improvement Council Meetings

  • August 24, 2017, 6:00-7:15pm
  • October 5, 2017, 2:45-4:00pm
  • November 2, 2017, 6:00-7:15pm
  • December 7, 2017, 2:45-4:00pm
  • January 4, 2018, 6:00-7:15pm
  • February 1, 2018, 2:45-4:00pm
  • March 1, 2018, 6:00-7:15pm
  • April 5, 2018, 2:45-4:00pm
  • May 3, 2018, 6:00-7:15pm
  • June 7, 2018, 2:45-4:00pm

School Improvement Council Meeting Notes  

Notes from School Council Meeting, April 6, 2017

In attendance: Lex Mathews, Donal Waide, Janice Fahey-Flynn, Libby Amero, Nancy Kun, Sharyn Lamer, Stephanie Hirsch

Survey updates:

Parent survey: The parent survey has been completed, though a full summary with each comment is still underway. Next steps for results:

Teachers will review at May ILT

A summary can be sent home to parents (Mr. Mathews will draft)

We will plan for an AFAS family summit or meeting to review results and perhaps identify a vision/mission statement with metrics.

Teachers may want to undertake a visioning process during August PD.

Faculty survey: Faculty survey results are completed. Lex and Glenda have the results, but haven’t had a chance to review and summarize them. The ILT and Administration will review the results (high-level results only) in an ILT meeting that’s open to all faculty.

Student survey: It is ready to go, but hasn’t gone out yet. Will be administered after MCAS

Budget updates:

Out-of-school time:

Program was funded at $10K, vs. requested $39K. Will need to figure out how to scale back program. Could do two days for one hour or one day for two hours. Needs to go on bus days, which are M, W, and TH. Bus costs $300/day. Would like to have a focus – probably language, but also mentioned was mindfulness.

Suggestion of drafting letter from School Council to advocate for more out-of-school time for low-income kids. Many students are not being served, and those results were also reflected in the survey. Also, older kids can’t participate in events because they have to take care of younger siblings.

Other wish was for more counselors. A member said that additional counseling support has a “huge ripple effect”, helping both the kids getting served and the other kids in the classroom. A member said: “Newcomers come with significant trauma exposure.”

AFAS will have another K next year due to demand in the neighborhood (75 requests). This will also help bring over more ELL students who would otherwise need to start at the Capuano and then move to AFAS in 1st. A members said that it would be great to keep grade 5 for SEIP so that there’s less disruption in education. Mr. Mathews said he’d like the AFAS to be a four-strand school as much as possible.


SIC Meeting - March 2, 2017
Motion to approve the minutes:

Minutes - 
Mr. Mathews update:
1.  Will form a letter statement about values with teachers when find time
2.  Drop in ELL numbers enrollment at AFAS for 2017/18 year
3.  Differentiation and After-school time - moved to staff planning
4.  Whole school assemblies, cross-grade collaboration, links in school

Jocelyn shared the PTA Requests to School Committee Report: 

  1. Language and science exposure in the younger grades
  2. Differentiation Coach at schools to support teachers
  3. Additional support for 1st grade teachers
  4. Resources for teachers and staff around diversity and tolerance/prioritizing diversity in staff hiring
  5. District level support for after-school programming
  6. Playground area snow removal

Survey Results:  
190 families have filled it out so far
pretty good out of 400 families
Forum with parents to go through the results 
April meeting - look at survey results more, and plan around them
Teacher survey and student survey (3rd-8th) under way as well
Budget Requests:
Mr. Mathews said that after discussion with staff - he made a request for an additional teacher in 1st grade
He was informed afterward, that due to a drop in ELL numbers we will have a lower 1st grade population next year - so now we have to make sure we don't lose a teacher to keep ratios lower.

Our immigrant students can't sign up for afterschool due to tax documents
Kids who need English most have to get on the bus after school
Suggestion of a free afterschool program for serving ELL students.  Could we use Tufts and Bunker Hill Future Teachers?
Structural problem  of Tues/Wed/Thurs - already have a bus, additional support for students

Need for more Counseling at AFAS - we have additional outside providers like The Home for Little Wanderers, Riverside - embedded counselors, is the district tracking needs and unmet needs?
Counseling services are not equitable, not per capita - AFAS has 580 students, other schools have less students and the same amount of counselors.
We ask for a piece of that increase - have counselors start to log how many students asked for services and didn't get it to demonstrate need
Citizen Schools and Breakthrough Collaborative - slated to get here
School Improvement Plan Draft:
# of people attending matters - Monday March 20th 7:00 pm
We need to work on engagement in our community
Can ask for electronic copy of this draft from Mr. Mathews
Thursday 3/9/17 - 2:45  - feedback from the group

Mr. Mathews stated that he supports the policy about not volunteering in your child's classroom but it is up to the community ultimately.

April Agenda:
Discussion about 
Food on Birthdays - District policy 
Minutes Approved 


January 5th, 2016


  • Parent Members:  Donal Waide, Rob Odilon, Helen Hendricksen
  • School Staff: Nancy Kun, Sharyn LaMer, Lex Mathews
  • Community Members: Natalie Viera, Stephanie Hirsch, Marian Berkowitz
  • Participants:  Randy Garry, Dan Futrell, Finnian Moore Gerety, Meghan Bouchard, Jocelyn Kasow, Rene Cordova, Lumina Gershfield Cordova

Natalie motioned to approve December 2016 notes, approved.  Next month Lumina will email notes to council before meeting.  

New Business:  
Mr. Mathews suggested a shift from the ongoing work (Differentiation and After-school) to a mid –year check in.  

Mr. Mathews proposes soliciting short survey.  To find out from constituent groups what to do next.  The current SIC group may not represent everyone in school community.  There is already a survey out asking teachers about new leadership feedback.  Expand survey to families - 5 minute survey to get data here to work on.  

Change focus from Differentiation/Afterschool agenda?  To include more democratic approach.

Why?  We’re a new team and want to know what working for the various constituent groups.  What practices are working for families?  Which need improvement? 

Feedback from SIC after paired discussion:

Asking the right questions. 
Integrating student voices. Parent/Kid version:  parents on front, kids on back.  
Student Aspirations - Jack Schneider - Leadership development for kids, Pedros Project
How fast to get data?  Can it be done in a month?  Timeline? Urgency in addition to quality
System for submitting feedback anytime (a tablet in the cafeteria?)  ipads from the library
Day to day work of Differentiation lives with the teachers, a lot of teachers have it as professional practice goals.  Communicate about progress, steps in that direction.  Survey in the report cards, beginning of February.  Grading window ends January 26th.  February 8 - Parent Teacher Conferences (afternoon)  
Roving parents taking surveys in person at Parent Teacher Conferences
Text message surveys?
Some parents not literate necessitates phone calls. Robo calls from Keiry Nunez - liason
SFLC can target family demographics
Subgroup to draft the survey - Next Thursday 1/12/17 at 3:00pm
Survey draft subgroup:  Stephanie, Megan, Lumina, Sharyn, Nancy and Jocelyn, Rob
Open ended or specific questions by area?  Open ended - not as easy to tabulate, but allow new ideas
Megan has done many surveys.  If it’s not actionable, it’s useless to us.  
Dan mentioned a 3 part survey format.
Do the same thing a year from now and compare progress
Establish topics-- what are the a few areas in which we want to learn how we’re doing?
Communication - do parents feel informed
Spanish language classes - if we had more money 
Parent Conference restructuring - were you able to attend?  Why not?
Values:  List of 10 - list top 3 priorities
More likely to speak to you as a human being, coordinated effort to be out on the playground? 
“We are the school improvement council, and we want to hear what you have to say”
Each topic would create 1-2 questions

2.  Lumina will send an email out to email address list with link to SIC Google Doc and square at the top for adding survey topics.

3.  AFAS School Improvement Plan - to be presented Monday March 20th to the School Committee at City Hall

Draft was worked on in August.  District separated the School Improvement Plan from the Budget process.  

Each school decides how much SIC informs the School Improvement Plan.  

Follow up issues:

No food policy on birthdays  
Evening for prospective parents 1/26 or so?  Becky will plan the Evening for Prospective Parents.  
Using survey data to drive next meeting--potential agenda?


December 1, 2016   6:00pm - 7:15pm


Parent Members: Donal Waide, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon

School Staff: Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Bakey Kun

Community Members: Stephanie Hirsch, Natalie Viera, Marian Berkowitz

Participants:  Dan Futrell, Damon Sidel, Finn Moore Garrity, Randy Gary, Jocelyn Kasow, Lumina Gershfield Cordova

Notes from November meeting reviewed.  Natalie made a motion to approve them and Donal seconded the motion.  Notes were approved.  Lumina assigned as notetaker, she will get instructions from Stephanie for getting notes approved and posting to website.

Lumina will also add future meeting dates to the website.  


Objective of the council, how often it meets, introductions around the table (name and role - SIC elected member / parent / faculty).

6:05-6:10:  Principal updates

  1. Spanish/English lessons: a trade.  Flyer - Dec. 13th - 2:45 pm
  2. Nets arrived—finally.  Protect from flying footballs
  3. I continue to meet people and learn about the community; some practices reflect that, while others are my way of working
  4. Upcoming conversation about values—in a community in which many worry about their positions, there’s a new need to be explicit.
  • Clearly establish for our community what our values are as a school. 
  • Conversation somewhere in January.  SIC will help facilitate.  Incidents of aggression, remarks, and anxiety. 
  • Where diversity is valued and all views are welcome.  Discussion of Somerville as a sanctuary city. 
  • Want students to be present and part of the conversation.  
  • Address particular issue of being undocumented. As a school we don’t care what your status is.  Resolution from the school committee regarding being a sanctuary city.  We will have to reach out to our fellow parents and personally invite them to participate in this important discussion to be sure all are included.

5.  Parent Teacher Conference Discussion: Change in format for report card night? 

  • 3 total meetings a year, each 1.5 hours.  LM proposed combining 2 remaining all into 1 - to be voted on by the teachers for approval.  
  • 7/8 grade teachers do 5 min slots, all full.  We teach 90 kids but only get to a portion of the kids the way conferences are right now are not good for parents, not good for teachers, not good for anybody.  Almost every teacher stayed more than the allotted time. 
  • Have the entire school here for a longer time would calm things down.  
  • “How do you get the parents of the kids that the teachers really want to see?”
  • How does the Teacher’s Union contract affect school ability to change the Conference format?  
  • How can we know more about Union contracts?   There is a lawyer representing the school committee.  Lawyer goes with Superintendent to go in with the Union President.  Staff has a colleague that is a Union rep to ask for clarification.  Lots of work we can do without Union approval.
  • Possibility of having a PD day for Conferences?  Friday May 12 - meeting?  Required Evening meetings.  Contractual issues?  Evening hours vs. day hours?
  • Haven’t said as a School Committee or District we want enough time for every kid.
  • Agreed that this combining of two-meetings solution will be a temporary solution before we create a better infrastructure for parent teacher meetings.  SIC voted in favor of LM taking issue to teachers for a vote.  


  1. Awards—how can we change them to support our community?  Brainstorm, then decision: proceed or move to a work group?

Current award format—share then react in groups of three.  Next, trio decides on goal of an award ceremony.  Now, trio considers if it’s what we want, and what else could potentially be better

small group feedback:

  • each kid sets their own goals/contribution plan/leadership plan, get awards on whether they met their goals
  • opportunities for leadership
  • clear criteria
  • Avoid gender bias
  • increase frequency of school wide awards
  • find someone who demonstrates explicit school values not just academic


Introduction of dual language conversation that school committee is having about AFAS

Long waiting list at Unidos - expansion?  (Clarification that Mary Skipper remarked, “maybe it would work at the AFAS”)  

Suggestion that SIC should own whatever happens at AFAS,  it should come from us, to push the Superintendent.  Do we as a community, do we want Early language exposure?  Or do we want to be play based learning?  


Update on differentiation:

PDs, decision to extend beyond first year; conversations in different grade levels

Ran out of time for this, need to hear update at next meeting.


Update on after-school

Meeting with after school (follow up from last meeting) and subsequent action


Work groups make time for work, meetings that occur prior to next SIC

Ran out of time for this.


Items for next meeting:  

  • How to structure a conversation about our values as a community
  • Always the first Thursday of the month.  Next meeting is Jan. 5th, 6:00-7:30, bring a friend.  Translator can be arranged.

Additional Notes:

  • Extracurricular clubs (like Drama Club)
  • Revive student led newspaper?
  • AFAS will be a Pilot site for recycling due to student efforts
  • Hiring people of color at AFAS, AFAS interviews are open to community.   Dan Futrell told us that Superintendent is very focused on revamping HR hiring, how we attract and develop pipelines for people to become teachers.  Training for current teachers re: race?  Post-election talk is not new to this school.  How to engage in the conversation about race and equity.  
  • Gratitude to Mr. Mathews for making parents feel welcome to join the SIC conversation
  • Mural - hours are Wed midday, can it be into evening?

Argenziano School Improvement Council

Meeting Minutes 11.3.2016  6:00-7:15pm

Attended: Principal Mathews, Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Kun, Stephanie Hirsch, Marian Berkowitz, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon, Meghan Bouchard, Donal Waide, Damon Sidel, Paris Barker, Lumina Gershfield Cordova


6:00-6:10 - Principal Updates

  • Funeral
  • Learning walk—Harvard students
  • Late family bulletin
  • This meeting as a forum for general questions (small but consistent time slot)
  • Robocall today - funeral arrangements set, not giving notice to all students
  • Paper hearts activity for students
  • Learning Walk - $600 for the school
  • Family bulletin forthcoming, needs to be translated


  1. Data story--what’s our biggest achievement challenge?
  • Achievement Gap among ELL relative to Winter Hill and ESCS
  • Discussion: is the data we reviewed on this apples-to-apples?
  • This may be a good opportunity to benchmark with other schools


Each work group presents for three minutes or so.  What’s the current status of your work?  What’s been done?  What needs to be done?  What obstacles exist?

Work Group: After School:

  • Proposal to survey families to assess needs relative to after school
  • Discuss with Community Schools the need for more after school spots at Argenziano


Work Group: Differentiation:

  • Book group for high-level readers began week of Oct 31
  • Faculty will be learning about differentiation - PD Day Nov 8 will be dedicated to this
  • 91 parents have offered to volunteer, some of whom are willing to help with reading
  • 14 hours of PD remaining after Nov 8
  • ELL students are part of differentiated groups


General concerns and questions

  • How is SIC put into place? Discussion
  • It’s an open meeting, anyone can attend
  • Only SIC can vote
  • Do new parents know about SIC?
  • Community members - Ron, Meghan, Stephanie, Natalie
  • Parent members - Donal, Helen, Rob
  • Teacher - Sharyn, Nancy
  • But all are welcome to participate


Agenda items for next week, formally adopt notes from prior meeting

How do we ensure different kids get Superintendent’s Award?


Meeting Minutes 10.07.2016

School Improvement Council

Attendance:  Principal Mathews, Sharyn Lamer, Nancy Kun, Stephanie Hirsch, Marian Berkowitz, Helen Hendrickson, Rob Odilon, Meghan Bouchard, Natali Vieira, Donal Waide, Damion Sidol

Meeting Structure

  • Note-taking role will rotate
  • Facilitation

Goals of the meeting/possible goals brainstorm

  • Support the running of the schools by group of stakeholders
  • Prepare the school improvement plan and prepare for the presentation to the Superintendent and School Committee
  • Opportunities for systemic issues raised by parents (or teachers)?  
  • In past the SIC has conducted parent surveys to better understand parent feedback and perspectives that can inform goals for the SIC  Those surveys would be framed to identify systemic issues, stay positive, and avoid personal attacks.  
  • Take our direction from the community.  
  • Council should identify the issues in the school and vote on priorities for the year.
  • Process to identify important issues
    • Council could identify the key issues and then gather more data.
    • Also offer opportunities for issues we may not have identified.

Pair share on identifying working projects & Report back on the following issues raised:

  • Classroom support (paras, volunteers etc)
  • Access to afterschool programming like tutoring and other programing
  • Appropriate teaching for little kids to allow for play time (homework, recess time, reasonable expectations)
  • Afterschool programming for afterschool (perhaps with focus on 6, 7 and 8 grade).  When afterschool opportunities are taking place at other schools but transportation is tricky.. Teachers run the programming for older kids, but doesn’t have a lot of capacity after school. (Note:  our middle school is doing an amazing job, 2nd in the state!)
  • Different types of learning opportunities for kids in the classroom (differentiation, doing both enrichment/advanced work and remediation) (Came up in two groups)
  • Parent conferences - want parents to come in and make it valuable and meaningful.  
  • Out of school time, fewer low-income and ELL kids as a proportion are served in current programs.  
  • What about the school gym - the school should use it for student needs, and should not be charged by the city to do this.
  • Concept of making schools a place where students can be from 7am to 6pm and should want to be there.  
  • Cross-cultural relationship building
  • Recycling
  • Morning drop off (safe play before school starts)
  • Parent engagement is linked to school performance.  How can we support parents of ELL learners to help overcome barriers to engagement (i.e transportation, after hours, translation).  This has come up at the PTA. SFLC is considered the parent engagement arm of the schools with a multi-lingual team, but underfunded.

Voting process:

  • Parent engagement (2,2,2)
  • P/T conferences (1,2,3,2)
  • Homework lower grades (2)
  • Classroom support (3,3)
  • Differentiation (1,1,3,1,1,1,3,2)
  • Cross Cultural Relationship Building (2,2)
  • Afterschool (3,3,3,,3,2,1,2,1,1,1)
  • 8th/9th grade transition (3,2)
  • Parent homework help ()

Discussion: Differentiation is the focus of the leadership team (55% of teachers identified differentiation as their top priorities).  Will need to determine how this group can do something alongside that additional work.

Next steps:

  • Divide into working groups – Differentiation and Out-of-School time.
  • PTA is already working on differentiation, so this group will be merged with the PTA conversation.  Could be held after the next PTA meeting in a smaller group.
  • Workgroups will report out at November meeting
  • Next meeting discuss membership of the SIP, and ensure we have the correct elected representation into the group.