School District Faces Shortfall

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By Kim Becker

Due to rising special needs costs, the district will need the town to forgive an estimated $129,000 for the current fiscal year. According to the statement of accounts presented to the Board of Education in March, the general fund forecast changed by $52,000 because of a revised special education cost forecast and a freeze in spending in substitutes, purchased services, conferences, supplies, books, and library books.

The district also had several unanticipated expenses including $26,000 in increased student activity costs to fund among other things the robotics team competing at nationals in St. Louis and moving graduation to the athletic field. Additionally, the cost of maintenance and repair work increased by $43,000 partially due to the harsh winter, and $34,000 was needed to cover an overhaul of the middle school fire alarm system. This upgrade replaces a 25-year-old system and includes all new smoke detectors and fire alarm panel.

Technology Update

The technology department has been working hard to implement the one-to-one computing initiative in grades 7–12, perform network and systems upgrades, improve software applications and spearhead an effort to redesign the district’s website. Professional development was also provided to teachers to smooth the transition to one-to-one computing in the middle and high schools.

In order to rectify issues with the Chromebooks at the middle school, the department negotiated the return of 750 devices to Dell at the end of this school year. The company agreed to replace the devices with differently designed, sturdier Chromebooks for September. The department is continuing to work on getting cases for the devices that will appeal to the students and therefore be used.

The department also implemented several new software systems, including the Star Learning assessment software, PowerSchool, the new library system and a tracking system for the Chromebooks. Hardware and security upgrades were accomplished as well this year.

Board Member Change

Ben Perron (R), vice chair, has resigned from the Board of Education. Board chair Ron Walther accepted his resignation and stated that he “appreciated (Perron’s) guidance and sage advice” over the years. He also commended Perron as “instrumental in getting the field done.” For his part, Perron urged the board to continue “making a good system great.” The Republican party has selected Stephan P. Royer, presently an alternate on the P&Z Commission, to fill the vacancy.