By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — Andover High School has been given marks and continued accreditation, but a short list of items to rectify has officials rolling up their sleeves and eager to get to work.
The New England Association of Schools and Colleges voted in April to continue accreditation at Andover High School, according to a letter sent to school officials June 7.
In the letter, NEASC highlighted 23 commendations, which school Principal Chris Lord said is “definitely something to celebrate.”
“They usually recognize eight or 10 of these things in these letters,” he said. “I was really blown away to see so many.”
Along with the commendations, there are also 15 recommendations that highlight areas the school needs to improve upon within the next year, the letter reads.
The first six items on the list must be in progress by Feb. 1, 2014, while the other nine must be moving forward towards remedy by Oct. 1, 2014.
:HIGH PRAISE: Community, collaboration are strengths
Among the 23 commendations at the school, NEASC officials highlighted many aspects of the high school and its relationship with the greater Andover Public Schools community, at one point celebrating “the collaborative working relationship between the superintendent, school committee, and the principal.”
The report also highlights “the extension of the responsibility of some program advisor positions to grades 6-12 or K-12 in order to improve vertical articulation” of school programming.
With that, students move through the full system as if progress through elementary school directly correlates to high school preparedness, according to Superintendent Marinel McGrath.
:NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Student pride, library could use work
While the report sings the school’s praises, there are areas that need improvement by midway through next school year.
The school’s library and media center are mentioned frequently throughout the report, with an immediate concern calling for officials to “ensure the library is available for students before, during, and after school.”
“(Students) arrive between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m., and I’ll often go by there and the kids are sitting out there waiting for it to open,” Lord said. “Same thing in the afternoon. Sometimes, they have a faculty meeting and you can’t go into the library.”
The report also asks officials to respond to deficiencies in the library’s materials and space issues by Oct. 1, 2014.
Along with upgrading print materials and electronic resources in the library’s media center, officials are tasked with developing and implementing “a plan to address the physical appearance and space issues in the library.”
Both are in progress, according to McGrath.
A $225,000 space needs study approved at Annual Town Meeting in May will look at several aspects of the town’s school system, one part being the high school.
The library is one of several areas targeted as part of the study.
The school also must “develop and implement a plan to increase students’ respect for the facility underscoring their role and responsibility for its cleanliness.”
:THE ROAD AHEAD: Discuss, lay out plans for work
With reports due back in February and October, the district will continue making improvements on the recommendations and any others officials receive from NEASC throughout the process up until the fall of 2017, when officials will begin gearing up for the next reaccreditation visit in 2022, according to Greg Waters, chairman of the school’s reaccreditation Steering Committee.
The full report can be read online at http://www.aps1.net/DocumentCenter/View/4851.