School board approves $200,000 Harvard contract

The Board of Education has approved a $206,620 contract establishing a two-year partnership between county schools and Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research.

Initially approved during the consent agenda portion of the Thursday, Aug. 9 meeting, the contract was brought back up for discussion by board member Allen Dyer, who moved to reopen the issue to discuss adding language notifying Harvard of "the open question" of whether or not public entities can hold copyrights.

"If you've got a leaky basement, you should disclose that you have a leaky basement," he said.

Board vice chairman Frank Aquino, Brian Meshkin and Cindy Vaillancourt all voted with Dyer and the issue was reopened.

But a tied vote — Aquino, Vaillancourt and Dyer in favor, and Board Chairwoman Sandra French and members Ellen Giles and Meshkin opposed — failed to add the language Dyer requested. Board member Janet Siddiqui abstained from the vote.

The board voted to reconfirm the contract, 6-1, with Dyer voting against it.

The partnership with Harvard establishes a plan to rigorously analyze data across the school system in an effort to better serve students through more effective policies and programs, and better-budgeted resources.

Recently appointed Superintendent Renee Foose announced the partnership as part of her entry plan in June, and a meeting among Harvard fellows and central office staff in July further outlined the future of the partnership. An initial report on the Harvard group's findings will be presented to the school system in September and a final report in October, and over the course of the next two years, analytic fellows will work within the school system to improve teacher effectiveness and the success of college-bound students.

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