Community Advisory Board for Salem Public Schools to hold open meeting Monday

Posted by Ryan Mooney,

The Community Advisory Board for Salem Public Schools - a recently created subcommittee of the Salem Partnership - will be holding a public informational meeting on Monday, June 11, from 7 to 8 p.m. at The Enterprise Center at Salem State University to promote awareness of the Mass Math and Science Initiative (MMSI).

In Salem High School's first year involved in the program - which is in 53 schools across the Massachusetts, the largest high school math and science program aimed at underserved students the state has to offer - the number of students earning qualifying scores on Advanced Placement (AP) exams in math, science and English increased 129 percent. Currently, 24 percent of Salem High School's juniors and seniors are enrolled in an MMSI AP course.

"It's a remarkable change that we're seeing," said Salem State President Patricia Meservey, president of the Salem Partnership.

Since its inception in 2007, the MMSI has doubled enrollment in AP courses throughout Massachusetts, and nearly doubled the number of AP exam scores that qualify for college credit.

"The real value of it is getting kids sort of from the middle, who may have been overlooked, and it's bringing them up," said Tom De Santes (CQ), communications specialist for MMSI founder Mass. Insight Education. "It creates a school culture where there's a higher standard across the board, and helping people achieve."

The Community Advisory Board, made up of local leaders in community, business and educational affairs, was created in direct response to the pressure being put on Salem Public Schools by the state Board of Education to improve MCAS scores and overall academic performance.

The committee hopes to act as a liaison between district administrators and the general community, partly by promoting program awareness through public forums such as the one on Monday.

"We helped create this committee in response to Salem schools' crisis," said George Atkins, an attorney with Ronan, Segal & Harrington, and chairman of the Salem Partnership. "So it is actively something we as a partnership are participating in by way of support and leading. But it's a committee of broad-based community people, not just the partnership."

At Monday's meeting, members of board will be invited to interact with students through a variety of formats, such as visiting classrooms and hosting workplace visits, providing summer jobs and sponsoring MMSI events.

The event, the first initiative of the board, will also serve as a way for the committee to introduce itself to the public.

"There are two purposes. One is to announce to the community that the Community Advisory Board to the Salem Public Schools has been established," Meservey said. "Our intent is to help with the communication as the public schools are going through some changes. And then we wanted to promote the Mass. Math and Science Initiative as an example of some excellent work that has been occurring in the schools, and to hopefully inform more parents about it so they can encourage their students to participate."