State to mandate concussion training for parentsBy Mike Berger
As part of a new set of guidelines established under the state’s new concussion law, parents will soon be required to attend an information session every September or take an online education course on concussion safety in order for their children to participate in interscholastic sports.
Although Canton has been at the forefront of concussion safety and treatment, state health and education officials are reportedly “fast-tracking” a set of guidelines that would require every community to file a formal program by March 1.
Janet Donnelly, Canton Public Schools nurse leader, and CHS Athletic Director Danny Erickson presented their draft for the formal program to the School Committee last Thursday. Erickson noted at the onset of the presentation that in 20 years as a coach and administrator he has “never seen a program move so fast.”
In a little more than a year, Canton has administered a baseline screening test to 370 students who are involved in contact sports such as football, basketball, field hockey, and soccer. Erickson said the day is fast approaching where every freshman who is entering school sports must be screened.
Canton has further advanced its concussion safety program by requiring every coach to undergo training, and there is now formal coordination between students, parents, doctors, coaches, trainers, nurses, and teachers when a student-athlete suffers a concussion.
One of the newer aspects of the program involves parent participation. Although Erickson already encourages parents to attend an information session, the new state guidelines makes it mandatory to do so; otherwise, parents must certify that they have completed a 20-minute online course. Further details will be forthcoming once the program is formally approved.
In other school news, although the committee is still awaiting final budget figures from the town’s Revenue Committee, both School Superintendent Jeff Granatino and School Committee Chairman John Bonnanzio said they were optimistic that the schools will have more money to spend next year.
They cited several factors, including the governor’s recommended budget — which calls for a substantial increase in Chapter 70 education funding — as well as projected revenue growth from the town, including revenue from a new solar farm, a new hotel, and the annual 2.5 percent tax increase as allowed under Proposition 2 ½.
Given a January 1 deadline for submitting a preliminary budget to the Finance Committee, the school board submitted a $32.25 million budget — almost six percent above this year’s spending plan. The committee realizes that the budget is subject to many factors, including final local aid figures from the state and the budget figure approved by the Revenue Committee.
Currently, the overall town budget is built on a ratio of 65 percent for the schools and 35 percent for municipal operations, including police, fire, DPW, library, and other town departments. Bonnanzio said he would like to discuss this ratio with selectmen in a formal setting, noting that the town’s needs change every year.
Bonnanzio also said the committee will resubmit a warrant article for the creation of a stabilization account to address the constant fluctuation of special education costs. He pointed to a report by School Business Manager Ken Leon, who said Thursday night that unexpected out-of-district tuitions have reduced a projected budget surplus to nothing within a month’s time.
In order to establish the stabilization account, the School Committee must first identify a new source of revenue. Bonnanzio is considering the possibility of suggesting the local option meals tax if it passes at this year’s town meeting. The meals tax article ended in a tie vote last year.
In other news:
* Gene Manning, chairman of the Canton Association of Business and Industry, along with Steve Cesso of Computershare, presented a $500 donation to the Hansen School to be used in a wellness program that promotes the CABI-Reebok Road Race in September.
* The committee approved a CHS trip to Europe planned for next April vacation. Students will raise money and self fund a trip to England, Ireland, and Wales. CHS teacher Katey Swanson presented the request early so that interested students can begin saving for the trip now. She said the trip can accommodate anywhere from six to 30 students and is open to juniors and seniors who are in good academic standing.
* The committee heard a presentation from technology director April Goran about a possible capital budget request of $1,700 to spend for a new library software program called “Destiny,” which enhances a student’s research skills on the Internet. It modernizes the library’s cataloging system and reduces the time library staff spend on student research information. It also connects to the Canton Public Library. If the committee approves the request, it will have to cut $1,700 from another area of the capital budget.
* Granatino reported that Galvin Middle School students raised $8,000 to benefit cancer victims.
* The committee will next meet on Thursday, February 16, at 7 p.m. at CHS.
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