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Math and Science Academy may earn ‘innovation’ status

Recorder file/Paul Franz
Danny Provost, Allison Lynde and Katherine Fortin of the Math and Science Academy in Greenfield make fleece blankets for the Linus Project by cutting fringe and then passing it through a small hole in itself to finish the edge.

Recorder file/Paul Franz Danny Provost, Allison Lynde and Katherine Fortin of the Math and Science Academy in Greenfield make fleece blankets for the Linus Project by cutting fringe and then passing it through a small hole in itself to finish the edge.

GREENFIELD — The school department’s three-year-old Math and Science Academy — an offshoot of the middle school that emphasizes accelerated math and science achievement for its sixth- and seventh-graders — is on track to be the third Greenfield school to receive “innovation” status.

Innovation schools are public in-district schools that outline specific goals and strategies. Superintendent Susan Hollins presented a proposed innovation plan to the School Committee last week — one step in a required series of events that she hopes will ultimately lead to the committee granting the school its new status.

The vote — which needs to follow a public hearing and could occur as soon as the committee’s June meeting — would officially clarify the school’s mission but would not make any fundamental changes to the school.

Greenfield already has two innovation schools: the Discovery School at Four Corners, which emphasizes community and environmental preservation, and the Massachusetts Virtual Academy, the cyber school that will transition from an innovation school to an independent state-authorized school on July 1.

The Math and Science Academy, currently housed in the Green River School building, teaches about 40 students in a combined sixth- and seventh-grade program. It also offers a pilot fourth- and fifth-grade program that would not be part of the new innovation school.

The school hosts longer academic blocks, up to 90 minutes long, to allow students to participate in experiments and labs in their math and science classes. The acceleration allows students the option to take Advanced Placement courses in math and science in high school.

Students also take English/language arts courses, geography and world history, Spanish, robotics and art electives. The school emphasizes “habits of scholarship” — daily homework assignments are given and teachers try to instill participation and organization skills in their students.

Under the new label, teachers would work four extra days in the school year, would meet weekly with the rest of the staff and have more flexibility in their daily schedule — all changes Hollins said her office and the teachers’ union had approved.

Other business

Member Francia Wisnewski told the committee at last week’s meeting that she is working with high school officials to begin incorporating two student leaders into the committee’s monthly meetings. The committee supported the idea, saying that there had been student participation in the past — but not in recent years.

Next year’s school calendar was approved: the year will begin on Aug. 28 and end June 11, unless there are any snow days.

The committee voted to request the town to transfer over $128,494 in owed expenses. The town had agreed last year to cover contract increases among school faculty and staff.

And the committee approved a plan by French teacher Tamara Grogan to take between 30 and 40 students on a trip to Quebec in February 2014.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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