Students return to school early

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The summer flew by and school started a week earlier this year, breaking the tradition of starting after Labor Day. By the time this article is published, teachers will have returned to work and received professional development training and students will have already had a week of classes. The feeling of the start of the school year is unique, one characterized by excitement, anticipation and hopes as families, students and educators prepare for the first day of school.

Summer activities around the district included curriculum institutes for teachers; professional development for teachers and administrators; facility and technology enhancements; safety upgrades to schools; the hiring of 25 new staff; a redesigned and extremely successful summer programs for students; and Board of Education strategic planning. Recentl-received student achievement scores showed strengths on the Advanced Placement Tests and the Scholastic Assessment Test and identified areas for improvement on the Smarter Balanced Math Assessments. Student enrollment was projected to decline by 44 students and, as school started, the actual enrollment was five students more than last year. The total increase was 23 students above the projection. The three teacher assistants reduced in the budget process were restored over the summer to accommodate the larger Kindergarten class sizes (19).

This year, the District looks forward to supporting new advanced placement courses; a middle school talented and gifted program; middle school Chinese language course; a new strings program; upgrades to school safety; and a focus on the social emotional wellness of students; a community mentoring program; implementation of Next Generation Science Standards; the provision of afterschool late buses; and, a few extracurricular clubs. The District’s Equity Taskforce will continue work on implementing recommendations to reduce achievement gaps and the high school kicks off the year for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges decennial accreditation visit.

In addition to school starting early this year, a BOE-commissioned School Start Times Taskforce will conduct a study to explore the impact of different school start times on students’ wellness and academic performance and to assess the feasibility of implementing new start times for all Granby schools. Recommendations and community input will be received this year with implementation of any resulting changes in the fall of 2020.

As another school year commences, the town and school district extends a special welcome to families new to Granby and to students who will be joining the school system for the first time. Every student entered the school doors last week with new book bags and supplies but they also entered with excitement, new hopes and aspirations to be successful. As educators, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to work with our young people. We look forward to fueling our students’ passion and keeping the flame alive on the first day of school and every day! 

I encourage the community to stay involved, to help us navigate the changes that lie ahead and to keep education a priority for the town, ensuring the highest quality education for all of our students.