hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

April 18, 2012

Teachers to vote on Tilton School change

Tilton Elementary School hopes to reinvent itself and turn the tides on its lagging MCAS scores — but first it must gain the support of its teachers.

They are expected to vote early next month on a plan that would transform Tilton into the city's first "innovation school'' — a kind of charter school with creative teaching methods.

If two-thirds of the teachers are in favor of the plan, it would open the door to grant money of anywhere from $25,000 to $75,000 for teacher training. The money would enable Tilton to become an innovation school starting this fall. The state awarded the school a $10,000 grant earlier this year to form a committee to study the concept of innovation schools, allow team members to visit schools of its type in the Boston area, and identify teaching methods at Tilton that are working and not working.

This kind of charter-like school would give teachers more power than they have now to try different teaching methods, allow for greater flexibility in the school day, and allow for new policies such as school uniforms as well as a rewards-based program for students who work hard, school officials said.

"We would finally have the autonomy to make the kinds of changes so many of us want to make," said third-grade teacher Erin Barnard, a member of Tilton's innovation planning committee. "This is crucial. We have to make changes. What we've been doing isn't working."

School officials announced in January their intention to convert Tilton to an innovation school.

At last week's School Committee meeting, Tilton Principal Mary Beth Maranto said if the plan is approved by teachers, she will bring it before the School Committee for public hearing on May 10 and then for a vote on May 24. A majority vote would allow Tilton to submit its plan to the state Department of Education.

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