Possibilities broached for new school budget

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

In a Special Meeting of the Plainville Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maureen Brummett reviewed a detailed plan for enrollment and class sizes, the budget and budget timeline, and reductions for the upcoming school year. Also presented were the possible additions of a school resource officer and the possible return of the indoor track program.

“Everything we talk about tonight, and anything that’s been recommended in the budget,” said Brummett, “is to fulfill our vision for the district of what’s best for students, teaching and learning, and my job is to enforce that, even in these trying economic times.”

Brummett said through previous analysis, enrollment had been underestimated, but after re-evaluation, “steady enrollment is projected.” Due to that, new teachers at the elementary level may need to be added in order to keep class sizes from being too large.

The projected number of in-district students for the upcoming school year is 2,352. Assistant Superintendent Steve LePage said that the district will have until March to declare how many seats will be occupied because of the Open Choice program.

Plainville High School principal Roberto Medic presented the concept of adding a school resource officer (SRO), who would be stationed primarily at the high school, but would be shared throughout the district. Medic has had some preliminary conversations with Police Chief Catania.

Before coming to PHS, Medic served as the Assistant Principal at Watertown High School, where they had an SRO. Medic described the role of an SRO to be a counselor, coach, and mentor to students because the SRO is a law enforcement officer, a law related counselor, and a law based educator.

BOE Chair Andrea Saunders wondered how an SRO would be applicable, saying that when she searched for the definition online, she was concerned about what it implied.

When she looked up the definition, she said “it talks about a drug prevention officer, it talks about crime prevention.” Saunders said, “So of course my first thought was ‘What’s going on at the high school that we aren’t hearing about?’”Medic said that the cases at PHS aren’t necessarily about drug or crime prevention, but rather, have an added level of complexity, especially when incidents occur online.

The National Association of School Resource Officers defines an SRO as “by federal definition, [an SRO] is a career law enforcement officer with sworn authority who is deployed by an employing police department or agency in a community-oriented policing assignment to work in collaboration with one or more schools.”

Sam Adlerstein, director of business and operations, explained that he serves on the BOE for the town in which he lives. When they were in the process of making their decision on whether or not to hire an SRO, they interviewed a number of superintendents that have SRO’s in their district, and Adlerstein said the common consensus was “I wasn’t so sure we needed it before we had an SRO, but now that we do I’d never run a district without an SRO again..” Adlerstein’s town has two SROs.

Brummett said that she views the position as an added level of security.

Athletic Director Chris Farrell, hopes to bring the resurgence of the indoor track program to PHS. Farrell explained that indoor track was cut from the athletic offerings in the early 2000s. But, there were still students interested in participating.

Farrell said that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference offers a “team of one” where a student can train with and be transported with another school, but compete wearing their home team’s uniform. For indoor track, teams of one can have three student athletes. Currently, three Plainville students compete in indoor track as a team of one with Bristol Eastern High School. But, this doesn’t accommodate the many other students that wish to participate.

He went on to explain that, to bring back indoor track, he was able to rework his current budget because he would only need funds for transporting athletes to and from events, and the possible addition of coaches. Plainville already has the rest of the needed equipment.

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.