By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER
At the Jan. 8 meeting of Plainville’s Board of Education, Plainville High School’s principal Roberto Medic and his staff discussed the state of the school, the addition of new classes, and how reshaping the curriculum will help their students throughout their education and after graduation.
Medic said that his staff has been monitoring the PSAT and SAT scores by looking at “cohorts,” what he described as groupings of students that begin high school at the same time and have the same intended graduation date. Medic explained that the current seniors would be cohort 2018, the juniors would be cohort 2019, sophomores as cohort 2020 and freshmen as cohort 2021.He explained that when talking about cohorts 2019 and 2020, they look at the scores on the PSAT.
“Cohort 2019 saw an increase in their total average PSAT score,” reported Medic. There was an “increase of 51 points in a year’s time with 27 points in English and 24 points in Math.” Among some of the newly added classes offered are SAT prep courses, which Medic current sophomores are taking advantage of.
PHS also offers are at least five new English courses, such as Literature and Film, and Science-Fiction and Fantasy, which English teacher Shaylene Krupinski, said allows the students to meet the graduation requirements while studying something that interests them.
Science teacher Paris Godbout and Math teacher Jen DeLorenzo both explained that by reordering how their subjects are taught, students will be better prepared for the SAT, state exams and college.
Godbout said that currently, freshmen are required to take a half year science course called Planet Earth in conjunction with biology. “We’re hoping to prepare kids better for the future by requiring them to take a full year of earth science,” said Godbout.
DeLorenzo reported that after talking with a representative from Tunxis Community College, the math department realized that there was some necessary re-sequencing of courses. Traditionally, high school math is taught in the order of Algebra I, Geometry, and then Algebra II. But, PHS has decided to start with Geometry, as the majority of math questions on the SAT are Algebra I and II based.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maureen Brummett recapped the capital budget for school year 2018-19 that she presented to the Finance Sub-Committee earlier that night. She reported that the Town Council had requested that the school board cut about $220,000 from their proposed budget. In order to do so, Brummett worked with her staff to make cuts and postponements that they thought would have the least negative impact.
One area that was not deeply affected was the technology budget, which remained mostly intact. They plan to move forward with the purchasing of new Chromebooks and protective cases. “Those are directly tied to how our kids learn,” said Brummett. “If they don’t have the proper technology, their ability to have access to all of our educational programs will be impacted.” The technology portion of the budget came to the total of $224,900.
Most of the cuts came from the facilities portion of the budget. The new total for facilities is $28,535. These savings were due to postponements of projects such as the removal of the underground storage tanks at the middle school and repairing the smokestack at the high school.
In order to reach the recommended reduction of $220,000, Brummett and her staff looked closely at where savings could be made, and how those savings could impact the school district, the students and their families.
By not replacing the teacher that retired from Wheeler School, $60,000 could be saved, said Brummett. However, this will effect class sizes. By putting off replacing cleaning equipment, $75,000 could be saved, but runs the risk of higher spending down the road to replace or repair the equipment. After talking with administrators and teachers, $50,000 can be cut from ‘instructional supplies’ such as books for classrooms and classroom supplies. For the 2018-19 school year, $20,000 can be saved by not paying a retainer for legal fees, but that cost could rise for the following school year. And, $5,000 can be saved in each of these areas; previously updating the boilers at the middle school, a new Title IV Grant transfer that was written by Assistant Superintendent Stephen LePage, and by eliminating transportation home from after school programs in the third session.
The capital budget was passed unanimously by the board.