A group of students presented a strategic three- to five-year district plan to Medford’s Board of Education during its latest meeting to involve students to find solutions for challenges such as rising stress levels and a stronger desire for healthier school lunches.
A group of 24 students volunteered to join the Community Awareness Response Team in an effort by Superintendent Joseph J. Del Rossi and the district to include students in the its future plans. A few of those students presented the program’s findings for the first time in front of the board.
“They (the students) really don’t get a second chance to weigh in and have a formal voice. This really afforded the opportunity to be able to voice their opinion and make a difference,” said Del Rossi.
The mission for the CART program was to come up with goals for present and future challenges that the community and district are facing. In addition, they reported both short- and long-term solutions to Del Rossi.
Students were broken into three groups over the past school-year to devise plans for present challenges, future challenges and district evolution needs.
They found that their highest priorities to address in the future were increasing stress levels among students and faculty, school start times and a stronger desire for healthier school lunches.
Over the past three years, Del Rossi met with three groups of stakeholders to get a wide range of advice. From 2016 to 2017, he met with teachers and support staff. From 2017 to 2018, he met with parents and community members. But in the last school year, he worked with “the most important group of all,” the students.
According to the presentation, some of the evolution that the district has encountered is an increase in homework, a stronger desire for healthier school lunches and a decrease in enrollment.
Present challenges include an increase in stress among students and faculty, the school having been unable to meet the needs of all students and a possible change in school start times.
Future challenges that the school may encounter are all of the present challenges in addition to a possible decrease in state funding.
Del Rossi explained in the meeting that he and business administrator Marie Goodwin took the findings from the students to the district’s lunch provider to share the health concerns of the students. As a result, a new lunch program will be instituted for the next school year.
“I actually took your (students’) presentation boards to my presentation, and presented that information to the company,” said Del Rossi about his proposal to the lunch provider. “Almost all of your suggestions that you put out there are included in that company’s proposal. So already, you’ve made a difference.”
The next Medford BOE meeting will be held on Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Board of Education Offices, located at 137 Hartford Road.