School principals outline improvement plans for 12-13By Mike Berger
In anticipation of the start of school this week, the Canton School Committee invited each of the school principals to its meeting last Thursday, August 30, to provide an overview of their school improvement plans for the 2012-2013 year.
The one exception was new CHS Principal Derek Folan, who began July 1 and was therefore given more time to develop his plan. However, Folan did mention to the committee that he was quite impressed with the “Boomerang Project” where upperclassmen are matched up with incoming freshmen in a mentoring program. He also said he wanted to improve the quality of instruction in all areas and develop a parents’ council along with a network of community business leaders.
All of the school principals mentioned improving the quality of instruction. Robie Peter of the Luce School said she also wanted to focus on school safety and developing a fall and winter enrichment program, while Kim Sefrino of the Kennedy School emphasized reading beyond the regular school day, more enrichment opportunities, and improved electronic communication.
Peter Boucher of the Hansen School stressed the continuation of the “Team Hansen” concept, featuring his philosophy of always “doing your best and doing the right thing.” He also expects every student to make measurable progress academically and socially.
Galvin Middle School Principal Dr. Bill Conard talked about developing an improved master schedule for greater flexibility and is looking to create an enrichment period within that schedule. He also mentioned working to create a culture for student achievement and growth, and he talked about the committee’s efforts to create more budget money for technology staff.
Committee member Cindy Thomas said she hopes there is better alignment of the foreign language program between the middle and high school after parents challenged Conard’s decision to drop the German program, which was later reversed at the end of last school year.
Early Childhood Coordinator Kelty Kelley talked about more parent involvement in the program, which expanded to well over 100 students.
In other school news, Superintendent Jeff Granatino announced the continuation of a revised schedule for fall sports practices and games due to the ongoing threat of EEE and West Nile virus. Granatino has decided that until September 21, all CHS grass practices will end at 6 p.m. and all games on the turf field will begin at 6 p.m. with the goal of everyone being off the field by 8 p.m.
The schedule will go into effect this week, starting with the first home football game this Friday night at 6 p.m. against Dennis Yarmouth.
Granatino said the county has sprayed all CHS playing fields every Wednesday for the past six weeks, and he has been told that the mosquito population has decreased significantly as a result. School administrators will review the situation after September 21 and may or may not extend the policy depending on the weather conditions.
Meanwhile, two School Committee members who previously had concerns with the revised state-mandated snack policy said they have read the entire revised district wellness policy and praised School Department Nurse Leader Janet Donnelly for her efforts.
“I am getting to be okay with this,” said committee member Reuki Schutt after reading the wellness policy. Chairman John Bonnanzio, who was most critical of the policy, said, “I like the holistic approach to this. I think it works.”
Donnelly and K-12 Wellness Director Katherine Swanson are creating a list of approved snacks in keeping with the revised state standards released in June. The snack list is for parental reference and pertains to classroom parties and field trips. A full explanation of the snack list and the wellness policy is up on the Canton Public Schools’ website and will be explained to parents in all of the schools.
Donnelly also apprised the committee of an update on “Michael’s Law,” pertaining to emergency medical issues. Although Canton is currently doing what the state requires, Donnelly plans to inquire if any other school administrators besides school principals will need walkie talkies. The topic prompted Bonnanzio to suggest a future discussion on emergency medical procedures on school field trips.
In other news, the committee approved Performing Arts Director Sarah Collmer’s recommendations to make after-school instrument lessons a self-funded program. Fees will rise slightly and there will be an annual $20 registration fee per family. Fees will rise from $20 to $26 for a half hour of instruction, $39 for 45 minutes, and $52 for an hour. Instead of paying teachers directly, parents will pay the School Department either monthly or on a semester basis. Those who pay for a semester will receive a 5 percent discount. Collmer said the new system will allow for a lesson coordinator and scholarship money for families in need of financial aid. Granatino said even with the fee hikes, the cost is much less than what a private music school would offer.
In other news:
* Granatino announced that Marilyn Harris has stepped down after 25 years of leading the Canton Problem Solving program. He said parent Suzanne Bronstein will take over, but more parents are needed as volunteers.
* Granatino announced the completion of another successful Canton Academy this summer. Now in its 10th year, the summer enrichment program attracted more than 100 students and featured classes on various topics, including robotics and computer animation. Several public school teachers participated in the program.
* The committee approved the recommendation of School Business Manager Ken Leon to set the custodian building fee rate for facility rentals at $41.88 per hour and $55.84 per hour on Sundays and holidays.
* The committee presented a plaque honoring the efforts of longtime CHS custodian John McDonough, who recently retired after working in the school department for 32 years. “John was everywhere in the building, a.m. or p.m.,” noted Granatino, adding that it was McDonough who warmly greeted him when he came in for his first interview for school superintendent.
* This was the first committee meeting for newly appointed School Committee members Dave Emhardt and Robert Golledge Jr.
* The committee will meet tonight at 7 p.m. and then meet every other Thursday night or twice a month during the school year.
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