Boucher named permanent Hansen school principalBy Mike Berger
A round of applause by audience members, including administrators and school principals, followed the announcement by School Superintendent Jeff Granatino on January 19 that Peter Boucher has been appointed the new permanent principal of the Hansen Elementary School.
Boucher, who previously served as the district’s wellness coordinator, took over in the role of interim principal in July. The announcement follows a lengthy search for a permanent principal headed by Granatino and curriculum director Jen Henderson.
Granatino said Boucher has impressed both administrators and parents during his brief stint as interim principal.
“Peter has done a terrific job in a short period of time developing Team Hansen,” said Granatino. “He has been well received by students and parents. Everyone in the search committee agreed he was the right person for the job.”
In other news, given a choice of three budgets, the School Committee decided to send a preliminary FY13 operating budget to the Finance Committee that is almost six percent more than the current spending plan of $30,440,978.
FinCom had asked the school board to send a preliminary plan by the end of January as both boards await the final budget figure from the town’s revenue committee, which consists of Finance Director Jim Murgia, Town Administrator Bill Friel, and a member of both the Board of Assessors and FinCom.
The revenue committee is expected to meet this week now that Governor Deval Patrick has announced plans to submit a higher-than-expected school aid plan and a level-funded local aid package.
The three spending plans proposed by Granatino included a $31,375,830 budget that rolls over all current programs, staff and services, representing a 3.7 percent increase; a “restoration level-services budget” of $31,879,625, showing a 4.73 percent increase; and a “needs-based enhancements budget” — the one selected by the committee — which amounts to $32,254,434 and represents a 5.96 percent increase.
The second budget, which calls for roughly $500,000 in additional spending, would restore staff levels to meet committee-approved class size guidelines, replenish school supplies to adequate levels, provide for transportation and technology obligations, and reinstate funding for before and after-school supervisory coverage.
The needs-based budget, which includes an additional $878,000, would allow for a broader array of course offerings and increased special education programming.
Granatino said after the meeting that none of the budget options addresses reductions in fees associated with sports or extracurricular activities. A special committee is studying that issue and plans to report back to the committee in the next few weeks.
The committee realizes that there are many variables affecting the school budget for next year, including the finance director’s target number as well as state aid and contract negotiations.
Commenting on the choice of the budget, School Committee Chairman John Bonnanzio said, “Basically we need to send in a ballpark, make-believe budget that is subject to so many variables. But the message we want to send is that we are moving forward and not backward.”
In other news Thursday night:
* Canton High School Principal Doug Dias informed the committee of a new student ambassador program that has begun at the school. Beginning this month, two students identified as ambassadors will greet visitors, oversee the sign-in process, and give directions to those unfamiliar with the campus.
Dias said the initial objective of the program was to find a way to better assist visitors when they entered the school. But he now believes the real value of the program is to develop and increase school pride by giving students the opportunity to demonstrate “real responsibility.” All CHS students with studies are eligible to participate in the program, which was developed by teachers, administrators, and school secretaries. The ambassador sits by a 10-foot “welcome” sign donated by the school’s Alumni Association.
* The committee endorsed a three-year contract with an option for two more years with the Michael J. Connolly & Sons bus company. The contract will pay the company $85,000 per year, which is the same figure as this year. If the committee extends the contract the extra two years, the rate will increase by 12 percent.
* Granatino reported that an inspection of school buildings by Building Inspector Ed Walsh and school facilities director Brian Lynch identified the need for repairs to a wall at the Galvin Middle School. The inspection was voluntary and was conducted following news of a wall collapse in December at Marshfield High School.
* Granatino reported that Lowe’s has donated $4,900 to the Hansen school for an outdoor classroom, and the Sheehan family has donated $900 to the Hansen for use in the arts and music programs. The Bank of Canton has donated $250 to the schools from its “Change Makes Cents” customer donation program.
* School Business Manager Ken Leon reported that a punch list of items still needs to be completed on the new heating system in the Rodman building and the four-room addition at the Kennedy school. Although the classrooms are almost ready and are slated to open in September, the committee still needs to spend additional capital money for desks, chairs and classroom supplies.
* The committee heard a presentation by K-12 Wellness Coordinator Katey Swanson outlining some of the new programs that have been implemented for students and parents in accordance with the school district’s new Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. Swanson said that since the fall, there have been in-house and out-of-district training programs for staff, a new web page for parents on the school website, and classes offered at the middle school by School Resource Officer Chip Yeaton. All schools will be doing some kind of activity on January 25 as a statement against bullying and name calling. High school students will be wearing special black T-shirts on that day to reflect that message.
* The committee will next meet on Thursday, February 2, at 7 p.m. at CHS.
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