At his first Belmont School Committee meeting, John Phelan told the members what he has been doing this summer.
And Phelan, the district’s new school superintendent, has been doing much in the first two-and-a-half months on the job.
“I had a very, very busy summer but also a very, very productive summer,” Phelan said during the abbreviated meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 16.
There were many “coffee talks” with residents and teachers, greeting teachers, visiting four of the six district schools on the opening day and attending retreats and group forums, all part of Phelan’s “road map” to better understand Belmont community and the educational culture.
“I want to thank you for the warm welcome I’ve received,” said Phelan, saying he found the environment in the schools “as being engaged in learning.”
As part of his school-year long, three-part “entry” plan into the system – which will be released next week online and in print form at each school –Phelan met with the district’s Leadership Council, made up of the district’s principals, top administrators and senior staff, which during a two-day retreat in August, pointed out several areas for Phelan and the School Committee to consider as key issues to focus on in the coming year.
“I walked into the room with the Leadership Council and the wall was plastered with sheets of paper with all these notes on them. The energy was palpable, and it was a great experience,” Phelan told the committee.
On Tuesday, Phelan said he is committed to placing three of the Leadership Council’s ideas into the district’s strategic plan which is the town’s educational blueprint:
- Safety in all the district’s schools.
- Create a plan to deal with the district’s growing enrollment and increasing class sizes.
- Meet the social/emotional needs of each student, looking beyond test scores to produce successful citizens.
Phelan said implementing this plan will likely take the entire school year to complete and then can only be successful if the school budget can accommodate the items.
“We have to generate a budget before we can complete our long-term plans,” he told the committee.