Concord/Concord-Carlisle SEPAC november 2019


  • Co-Presidents Comments
  • 10 Questions...
  • CMS Building Project Update
  • Upcoming Events!

Co-Presidents Comments

Our fantastic Event Chairs, Tali and Andrea, have planned a year of interesting and relevant topics. From the recent Basic Rights: Eligibility and Evaluation (part 1 of 3 Basic Rights presentations) to the upcoming presentations by Elise Wulff from Aspire, and Myrto Flessas from the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, this year's events will benefit every parent. You can find details on our website and in the Upcoming Events section below. So get those calendars out and save the dates!

- Carol Yelle and Shaina Brito SEPAC Co-Presidents

10 Questions with...Ruth Grube: Director of Student Services

What most interested you in coming to Concord/Concord-Carlisle? "Concord's reputation is outstanding and the challenge of working in a high performing district was very motivating for me."

What have you found different and what have you found similar to your experiences in Peabody? "There are more similarities than differences and that was not what I had expected. Similarly, parents are amazing advocates for their children and want to work in conjunction with their school district to provide each child individualized supports in order to help him/her succeed in school. Both districts are similar in the amount of talented, qualified staff who support our students daily. The passion that the staff and family have towards ensuring that students succeed is also a similarity."

"The differences I see are the number of resources available in Concord/Concord-Carlisle Regional vs. my other district. My other district was larger and not quite considered an Urban district so we did not qualify for that kind of funding and at times that hindered the supports we could offer a student."

From your perspective, what is strongest about special education in our districts and what is the biggest challenge facing the districts right now? "I would say that some of the strongest are the number of caring, passionate, qualified staff and that is huge. Staff can look at a situation and draw from the vast experience they have had and make some "in the moment" shifts for student success. Parents are another huge strength also because of the passion, knowledge and true advocacy they bring for their children. Leadership is also key in the mix. To have a path or an explicit plan to follow from administrative leadership means consistency in language, expectations, and feedback and that in turn makes our students successful."

"I see the challenges as keeping up with training that supports the presentation of some of our students. Students presenting with both trauma and anxiety is prevalent throughout some districts and having the ability to recognize that, understand how to assist students by giving our staff more resources to draw from in a timely manner is critical. We are fortunate because, in this district, the Leadership team prior to me coming has recognized this as a priority but continuing with the understanding that no disability is the same and each student is an individual is a necessity that we cannot lose sight of. Arming our staff and communities with as much information as soon as possible is a task that this district is up for."

What's the most valuable thing you have learned to date working in special education? "... I have learned that once I have met a student with a disability, I have met a student with a disability. By this, I mean that although a student may fall within a category of a disability, that does not mean that all students under that given category will present the exact same way. Our students are absolutely amazing but treating them as the individual they are is not only respectful but necessary."

What is your favorite saying or one that you feel best sums up your philosophy or outlook? "Always treat people how you would like to be treated."

What is the best piece of advice you've received? "Regardless of how intelligent you are, you will never know everything. Know your resources, do your needs assessment, listen to staff and students, and always do well by children."

What is your greatest wish for the Concord and Concord-Carlisle School Districts? "My greatest wish for Concord and Concord-Carlisle Regional District is that we continue our open dialogues about special education as a more inclusionary model with students as it warrants and to secure a seamless vertical alignment between the transition years (pre k -k, grades 5-6, grades 8-9, and high school-post-secondary)"

If you could visit any place in the world where would you go? If I could go to any place in the world, I would go to Ireland to meet my mother's family.

What's your favorite way to spend a weekend? My favorite way to spend the weekend is to be outside with my dogs and husband. In the late winter, my daughter is expecting our first grandchild so my weekend plans may change.😊

What’s your favorite food? "My favorite food is Spaghetti and Meatballs."

What is a fun fact about you? "I wrote my college notes backward from the right side of my notebook to the left-hand side. I can also write forward and backward at the same time.

CMS Building Committee Update

Taken from the CMS Building Committee Report. Dated 11-7-19

Designer Selection Process--Members of The Design Subcommittee met on October 28 to create a short list of finalists to be interviewed as more than 20 firms expressed interest in the project. The Subcommittee advanced five firms to the interview stage in the selection process and met on November 6 to conduct interviews. The Subcommittee forwarded a recommendation that ranked the firms to the full Building Committee which met on November 7. Based on those recommendations, members of the Building Committee selected the top two firms in order of preference; the top ranked firm is SMMA of Boston.

The Design Subcommittee members were pleased with the finalists and remarked that all of the firms were capable of delivering a design that reflects the charge established in the Article adopted at Town Meeting. The Subcommittee members shared their belief that the top two firms were exceptional and the rankings should reflect the notion that there was minute separation between the two. The Committee ranked all design firms with a particular focus on the top firms for the sake of contract negotiations which is consistent with the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s designer selection process. The process of ranking firms is conducted in case contract terms cannot be reached with the first preference which then allows the Committee to move on to the next ranked firm.

The selected firm will work with the Building Committee to conduct a feasibility study and to develop a schematic design for a single new middle school building at the site of the current Sanborn building to replace the two existing facilities. The feasibility and schematic design process will yield the information necessary for Concord residents to make an informed decision on funding the middle school construction project at a future Town Meeting. The Building Committee retains the option to consider whether or not to re-engage with the firm following a decision at Town Meeting to move forward with construction.

The design firms responded to A Request for Services that included background and context for the proposed project, project goals, sustainability goals, scope of services, draft schedule scenarios, minimum qualifications for firms to be selected, and the selection criteria that will be used by the Building Committee to choose the designer.

You can watch the finalist interviews and design committee's subsequent discussion on the Minuteman Media Network's YouTube channel. To get updates on the CMS building project you can join the Concord School Committee Subscriber list or visit the CMS Building Project webpage.


The first two SEPAC events of the year took place last week with great turnout. Thanks to all who attended. If you were unable to attend, we're sorry we missed you. You can find the handouts and slide deck to Basic Rights: Eligibility and Evaluation Workshop and the Q&A with the Superintendent Laurie Hunter and Director of Student Services Ruth Grube on our website. See our upcoming events below.

Upcoming Events

  • SEPAC Board Meeting All are welcome to attend! When: Thursday, November 21, 12:30-2:30 pm, Hunt Recreation Building
  • Elise Wulff, from Aspire at MGH Breaking Down Inclusion, Building Up Students In this workshop, Elise Wulff will provide an overview of core principles guiding inclusion practices and empower parents to engage these concepts in building your child’s educational success. The discussion will include review of some key theoretical and legal foundations of inclusion practices as well as specific recommendations for how schools can implement inclusion with fidelity. When: Thursday, December 5th, 7:00 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. Ripley Building Conference Rm 4. RSVP
  • Mediation and Facilitated Team Meetings presented by Myrto Flessas from the Bureau of Special Education Appeals will talk about the mediation process. When: Thursday, January 16th at 9:30 a.m. Location to be determined.
  • Basic Rights: Understanding the IEP - Provides an understanding of the Individual Educational Plan (IEP); why it is important, how it is developed, what information belongs in each section, what types of services are included, measurable goals, what to do when you receive a proposed IEP, and procedural due process rights for resolving disputes. When: Winter 2020
  • Basic Rights: The Transition Planning Process - provides an understanding of the transition planning process: why transition planning is important, services that could be included, who is eligible, student and parent roles in transition planning, role of student’s vision, how to prepare for a transition planning meeting, age of majority, anticipated graduation date, and procedural due process rights for resolving disputes. When: Spring 2020


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