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School Committee Quick Notes

A run down of what was covered in Monday night's School Committee Meeting.

  • $98,430.89 was transferred from the private school tuition fund to get repairs done to the gymnasium floor. When the insurance check comes in and pending residents vote to transfer the money back in the spring Town Meeting, it will go back to the private school tuition.
  • $13,407 was transferred from the medical therapeutic line and $2,793 from J. C. Solmonese salary fund for an ABA specialist contract.
  • From the teachers salary at Henri A. Yelle Elementary, $49,346.50 for constructional hardware at J. C. Solmonese. This is to make up for the slow network connection since computer usage is up.
  • principal Riitta Bolton gave the opening school report to School Committee members. She was happy with the condition of the school upon the students return this fall, noting new paneling, paint and ceiling fans.

Enrollment at the school is down 40 from last year, with 111 kindergarteners, 125 first graders, 123 second graders and 142 third graders.

 Though not all the questions have been released, staff at the JCS are working to identify specific areas of improvements. As a whole, students received adequate results in math, but need to work on English Language Arts skills. Measurements the staff will take toward this goal include writing programs with concentration in open response questions, implementing complete sentences when students ask or answer questions and practicing multiple choice questions. Though third graders are the only ones taking MCAS at the school, benchmark levels will be studied at in other grades as well.

  • A new themed format has been given to Norton Public Schools Strategic Plan. Instead of being implemented over a five-year span, goals will be carried out in three years.

“It’s manageable, I think, for everyone involved,” said Superintendent Dr. Patricia Ansay.

 Committee member Andrew Mackie agreed, saying, “It helps keep things nimble, and moving.”

 Some goals include becoming more high tech and taking away fees for kindergarten enrollment.

 School Committee member Tom Golota asked how these changes would be possible with a decreasing budget. Ansay was hopeful, saying at some point the new superintendent would be on the receiving end.

 “It isn’t something that made any to approach the town site in the last three or four years,” Ansay said. “The funding just wasn’t there. But I think everybody needs to keep their eyes open, and when the timing is right, then strike,” she said.

  • Marge Werner and Beth McManus of the School Committee volunteered to sit on the Superintendent Search Committee who will be responsible for screening prospects. In the event that Werner has a scheduling conflict (she was not in attendance at the Monday night School Committee meeting), Tom Golota offered to stand-in.
  • The Committee voted to authorize chairperson Beth McManus to sign the State Financial End-of-Year Report, which must be submitted to the state by the end of October. At the present time, it being looked over by Town Accountant James Puello to be checked for errors. According to Ansay, this report “indicates where every cent of the school budget is spent.”
  • Changes to the school handbook were voted in to include information about a 504 Plan. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. This law protects a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • The School Committee voted to approve the principal contracts for 2011-2012.
  • Committee member Tom Golota gave an update on the high school building project. He noted that right now, the Project Committee is weighing what the needs are, versus what would be nice to have to stay within the budget.

The Committee also reminded residents that the s will be held this Friday before the homecoming football game.

  • In closing, the School Committee discussed the MCAS and how it affects the graduation of special education students. Ansay said that though special needs students have not been denied from graduating, there is summer tutoring available, along with alternative assessment that would show what the student has learned in another way. Concerned parents are urged to speak with guidance counselors.

For a story on how the SPO at JCS is planning to get a new playground, tune in later to Norton Patch.

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