Brien McMahon’s School Governance Council (SGC) is a committee that consists of multiple students, teachers, administrators and parents. According to the Connecticut Department of Education, “School Governance Councils provide a remarkable opportunity for Connecticut schools to engage with families and community members in the essential dialogue about student achievement and preparing all students for success."
Meeting approximately once a month, the SGC includes members such as Class of 2019 President Victoria McCaffrey, Principal Scott Hurwitz, McMahon teachers such as Ms. Tom, Mr. Seuch and Mr. Scalise, and parents such as Lisa Dunn or Amy Rooney.
On February 26, 2019, the School Governance Council met and discussed topics such as the school budget, the UCONN health report, the Black Bridge Motors Program and the Comprehensive School Climate Inventory Survey.
Despite the absence of several members - notably Class of 2020 President Olivia Bartilucci (whose seat was temporarily filled by junior Caitlyn Hocker) and Scalise - the School Governance Council had a busy agenda.
Following a vote on the Excellence in Education Award, Hocker promised that she would take a leadership role in an upcoming school grounds cleanup on April 27th. Also discussed was the school budget, which has been under scrutiny by the Norwalk Common Council. “What I am hearing is the initial look is that the budget will not be funded at the full level by the Common Council… there will be approximately a $1.9 million budget cut,” said Hurwitz.
Furthermore, SGC councilmembers deliberated on improving parent participation in the Comprehensive School Climate Survey. “The Comprehensive School Climate survey is the survey we give out every school year to students, staff and parents… Last year we had 154 parents respond, less than 10% of our total parent group... Students will do it through a variety of classes,” clarified McMahon’s principal.
“You have to tell [parents] why it's important for them too,” asserted Ms. Tom.
As a final measure, the results of the UCONN Health Survey of BMHS’s air quality were discussed. Seuch believes that the air ducts in the locker rooms are original to the building, and the ducts throughout the school have not been cleaned in the last 15 years. Other issues that hinder the air quality of the school include birds nesting in ventilation, and uncleaned tunnels (circa 1962) beneath the building.
“There has been mold in this building,” Principal Hurwitz says. “The rooms had not been cleaned. Someone went back in that room in August, and saw mold growing on the desks. The area was bagged and cleaned by professional cleaners. It it had been left longer, we may have had a bad situation. But there is no sense that that is what the problem is here [in regards to the UCONN report].”
Regardless, members of the School Governance Council are hopeful that their efforts are improving the school - as demonstrated by McCaffrey’s crusade to repair McMahon’s bathrooms last fall.
“[It was] very encouraging in today’s meeting, I think we are moving in the right direction,” said Principal Hurwitz.