“The test scores at Saltonstall indicate that there is no proof that the extended-year program is effective ...” he said, reading from prepared remarks.
“As a School Committee member, I feel compelled to make sure that we are addressing all students’ needs and, with limited resources, I feel that the money spent on the extended-year program would be better served helping needier students,” he said.
Lisa Lavoie and Deborah Amaral voted with Driscoll to keep the 190-day schedule.
Amaral was sharply critical of her colleagues for spending so much time on this issue.
“We have time to turn the Titanic around,” she said, “and yet some of us are choosing to rearrange the deck chairs.”
The school board vote was preceded by an emotional, 11/2-hour comment period by members of the community. About 20 people stepped to a microphone in the Salem High School auditorium, many of them Saltonstall parents.
Several pleaded with the school board to save a program that is embraced by parents and students and is based on an expanded learning model that schools across the country are adopting, that is used by virtually every state charter school and that even Salem is pursuing through a grant request to the National Center On Time & Learning.
“Do not push away innovative thinking and design,” said Saltonstall parent Kim Sullivan. “Don’t look to destroy choice and have cookie-cutter schools.”
Judith Nunez, a Carlton School parent, said Salem elementary schools are noted for innovative programs like the one at Saltonstall.
“My husband and I wanted to come to this city because all the schools were unique,” she said. “Please don’t take that away.”
Several people argued that the school board should not be eliminating an extended-year program but using it as a model while focusing on improving learning and test scores at all schools. They called this move counterproductive and divisive.