Dennis-Yarmouth School District Approves New Innovation School
Unanimous approval brings total Innovation Schools statewide to nine
The approval of the Marguerite E. Small Innovation School complements the recent announcement by the Worcester Public Schools that their School Committee approved five new Innovation Schools that will also begin operating in September.
"I'm heartened to see so many local educators and community leaders embrace the call to action to start Innovation Schools," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "We are experiencing a renaissance in innovation in public education right now and our students will be the beneficiary of these new and expanded efforts taking shape across the Commonwealth."
The Marguerite E. Small Innovation School is a conversion of an existing school, and it will better prepare 4th and 5th grade students in particular for middle school success. The school will utilize the autonomy and flexibility of the Innovation School model to provide students with more concentrated and tailored instructional time, while increasing student engagement in learning and extracurricular activities, and building critical social and leadership skills. The school will also operate a creative schedule which will maintain the same length of day for teachers but extend the school day by 40 minutes for students to maximize time for learning and professional development.
"The Marguerite E. Small Innovation School demonstrates how committed public school educators can create and implement inventive solutions to improve learning for our students," said Dennis-Yarmouth School District Superintendent Carol Woodbury.
"I commend the principal and her staff for their efforts to improve educational opportunities for all students," said James R. Dykeman, Jr, Chairman of the Dennis-Yarmouth School Committee.
"The Innovation School is a real step forward and is just another indication of the leadership we are so fortunate to have in our district."
"Our Innovation Plan is about opportunities," said Emily Mezzetti, Principal of the Marguerite E. Small School. "As an Innovation School, we will increase student achievement in all subject areas by restructuring our school schedule and providing more time for learning, and we will provide our teachers with the chance to enhance the curriculum and participate in more professional development opportunities."
Three unique Innovation Schools have been in operation since September this year, each opening less than nine months after Governor Patrick signed the bill authorizing Innovation Schools, starting with the Paul Revere Innovation School in Revere, the Pathways Early College Innovation School in partnership with the Ralph C. Mahar School District and Mount Wachusett Community College and the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield.
The Innovation Schools initiative, a signature component of the Governor's education reform act signed in 2010, gives educators the opportunity to create in-district schools that operate with greater autonomy and flexibility while keeping school funding within districts. These schools can implement creative and inventive strategies related to curriculum, budget, school schedule and calendar, staffing, professional development, and school district policies to improve learning outcomes for all students and reduce achievement gaps.
Innovation Schools can be established in any school district in Massachusetts. A wide range of applicants including teachers, school and district leaders, parents, union representatives, non-profit business partners, institutions of higher education, and community partners can create a new school or convert an existing school. In addition, multiple districts can work together to create an Innovation School that serves students from different communities. The approval process is entirely locally-based; school committees authorize the establishment of Innovation Schools for a period of up to five years, and work with superintendents to monitor progress and impact over time.
The Executive Office of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education have secured Race to the Top funding as well as grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Boston Foundation and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to award planning and implementation grants and provide site-based technical assistance to applicants. Twenty-four planning grants were awarded in March and additional planning grants will be awarded at the end of the calendar year. The deadline for the first round of implementation grants is June 30, 2011.
Guidance documents and additional information about funding sources are available at the Innovation Schools website: www.mass.gov/edu/innovationschools.