Enrollment increases from 77 to 101
By Becky Harvey
After the crushing decision to pink-slip 30 teachers across all levels of the Dudley-Charlton regional school district, the School Department was faced with larger class sizes. It was seen as manageable until a recent boom in kindergarten enrollment. In the short time since the decision to make cuts was made, at which time the tally for next year’s kindergarten enrollment at the Mason Road Elementary School was seventy-seven, the numbers have jumped to one hundred and one. With four classes, the original class size would have been under twenty. With the new enrollees, the class size would have sky-rocketed to three classes of twenty-five and one of twenty-six.
AT the July 18 School Committee meeting, member Michael T. McConville stated that “it can only get worse” before the beginning of the year, indicating that another teacher was necessary. The members of the school committee agreed that having classes that large during the formative years was highly undesirable. What they didn’t agree upon was whether or not the system could handle hiring another teacher. A motion was made to hire another kindergarten teacher in order to reduce class sizes. The motion included the stipulation that the position be funded by the school choice fund. The vote was split four to three, but passed. A new teacher will be hired, keeping the class size in the kindergarten under 21. Opposed to the hiring, solely due to funding issues, not to the reduction of class sizes, were: Elaine M. Rabbitt, Geraldine A. Nowicki, Chairperson, and Raymond J. Chalk.
MSBA renovation request for Shepherd Hill
Also addressed at the meeting was the submittal of a Statement of Interest (S.O.I.) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which has the mission to, “Partner with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public school facilities.” Shepherd Hill High School is not falling apart, but it is showing its age with “miles of forty year old copper piping, an aging boiler, a nearly twenty year old roof and science labs which, although retrofitted with updated equipment, don’t meet modern standards,” according to Superintendent Sean Gilrein.
The MSBA will meet in October to decide which school systems out of all the submitted SOIs it will choose to move forward onto the feasibility study step. Should the school be selected, it will cost between $500K to $800K, but that includes model designs and conceptual designs. At this point, Gilrein believes the school stands in good position to be among the schools selected by the MSBA. Representatives were impressed with the maintenance of the school and believed it to be in good condition considering its age. Gilrein noted that the reimbursement rates of projects such as this are raised by a full point or two when the MSBA determines a building has been well maintained, which was noted in their walk-through of Shepherd Hill. Another important sidebar by Gilrein was that having a feasibility study completed in no way guarantees funding of a project. This being said, the school needs improvements sooner, rather than later. It’s better to improve the site than to wait for it to be unfixable. As it stands now, the school can be brought up to modern standards through repairs and additions, which is much more cost-effective than having to build a new school from scratch.
3-year strategic plan
Another topic to do with improving the school was the district’s Strategic Plan. The past two plans were each five year plans. As a whole, they were successful. Only five items from the last plan were incomplete and that was due to a lack of staffing. (They included the inability to completely integrate the technology district-wide and to hire a grant coordinator.) The last plan, dated 2007, was a five-year plan, and as such needs to be updated. Chairwoman Nowicki suggested that the new plan be created to reflect a three year term, as she believed and Gilrein agreed, that technology and information move so fast these days that keeping it to three years would help to prevent outgrowing the plan before its completion. The superintendent will be actively looking for parent, teacher and community member input for the completion of these plans. Over the next few weeks Gilrein will put together a list of potential members and solicit volunteers to serve on the Strategic Planning Team.
The Dudley-Charlton Regional School Committee will have its next meeting on August 16th at 6pm (please note the earlier time) at the Charlton Middle School in the library.
- Wednesday, 25 July 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Region