School Board Announcements
After meeting throughout November and December, the School Board arrived at a budget proposal for the 2017-2018 school year. As with most school budgets, the increases over the current year’s spending level included some mandatory expenditures as well as some increases that were optional.
Major mandatory increases in the School Board’s budget proposal included increases to teachers’ retirement benefits (~$106,000), increases to the Special Education program (~$205,000), additional funding to the school’s hot lunch program (~$18,000), and Deerfield’s share of the new SAU-level curriculum coordinator (~$28,000), all totaling more than $357,000.
Major optional increases included an update to the elementary-level math curriculum (~$11,000), salary raises for multiple administrative and front-office personnel (~$13,000), an engineering study of DCS and a demographic study of Deerfield for planning purposes (~$18,000), renewal of the paraprofessionals’ contract with raises (~$30,000), and adding a new bus route to the transportation system (~$55,000). These major optional increases total $127,000.
Together, these major increases in our proposed budget total approximately $480,000. At our December 21st meeting, the Board acknowledged that this represents a significant increase over the current year but concluded that (1) for various reasons we are unable to change the mandatory increases to the budget and (2) these optional additions would be valuable to student safety and education.
Please remember that the Deliberative Session at 9 am on Saturday, Feb. 11 will be your chance to make adjustments to the 2017-2018 budget’s bottom line before it is placed on the warrant for March. Babysitting will be provided for the morning. We hope to see you there!
Happy 2017, Deerfield! Over the course of 2016, the School Board took many steps to begin looking to the future of DCS. One example is that we have been working with Superintendent Patty Sherman to support the DCS search committee charged with nominating a replacement for Principal Paul Yergeau, who is retiring at the end of the year. At our December 21st meeting, Ms. Sherman notified the Board that finalist interviews are scheduled for early January, and a community night to meet the finalists is planned for Tuesday, January 24th.
Another example of trying to anticipate future concerns for our school is the Board’s desire to execute an engineering study of the current state of DCS as well as a demographics study of Deerfield’s population changes and trends. In several recent meetings the Board has discussed and agreed on the need for developing a clear picture of our building’s structural integrity so that we can be aware of and budget for any upcoming maintenance projects. DCS was built in 1993 and we are starting to see more signs of the building showing its age; until we run an engineering study it is difficult to know what other concerns exist within its walls.
At our December 21st meeting, budgetary discussion circled around the inclusion in the 2017-2018 budget of estimated costs for both of these studies (approx. $15,000 for engineering and $3000 for demographics). While these estimates came from a limited inquiry prior to our last meeting, the bid process required by our purchasing policy (Policy DJB) likely will result in a lower final cost, with unused funds returned to the taxpayers. Following our discussion, the School Board determined that more information is crucial to making educated decisions about our building and so including the two figures in the budget is the best course of action.
Remember that your chance to cast your vote on what the March warrant looks like is on February 11th at our Deliberative Session. Save the date!
The school board meeting for Tuesday, January 4th has been rescheduled for January 18, 2017.
School Budget Public Hearing: Tuesday, January 10th, GB White Building 7:00pmSchool Deliberative Session: Saturday, February 11th, Deerfield Community School Cafe 9:00am
One issue that has been on many students’ and parents’ minds lately has been concern over our bus system. Most of us on the School Board have heard complaints this year about problems ranging from space shortages and disorganization to safety concerns. At our December 7th meeting Beth Marino, an 8th-grade DCS student, presented her firsthand account of the problems she has seen recently on her bus. Her report corroborated many of the other complaints that we have heard.
Our contract with our current bus provider, Dail Transportation, is expiring this year and the Board has taken advantage of this opportunity to work on our lines of communication with Dail as well as its parent company, Student Transport Services (STS). We have been informed of recent developments at Dail that indicate that they are taking significant steps to address overcrowding and we have heard from Assistant Principal Chris Smith that use of the new video-recording system has led to increased safety.
One step that would alleviate much of the crowding, adding another bus route this year, is not financially feasible. We will continue to work with DCS administration and Dail to address this year’s transportation situation. Looking ahead with student safety in mind, the Board has tentatively added another bus to the proposed budget for next year. Also, due to the marked improvements in communication recently, the Board has agreed to renew our contract with Dail for another five years.
The December 7th meeting touched on a couple of personnel topics that we would like to share. First, the initial phase of the principal search is complete. Superintendent Sherman announced at our meeting that a decent number of applications has been received. The DCS search committee has looked through the application packets and decided which candidates to advance to the initial interviews, which will be taking place before the holidays.
The search committee, chaired by guidance counselors Greg Boisvert and Heather Swanson, is comprised of faculty and staff representatives from many different DCS departments as well as a community representative. Sue Fifield, president of the PTO, was asked to represent the community during this process; if community members have any input they should pass it on to her. Emails to email@example.com can be forwarded to Sue.
Second, the Board is pleased to announce that we have agreed with Deerfield’s paraprofessionals on a three-year contract, which community members will have an opportunity to confirm at March’s town meeting. Due to our paraprofessionals’ effective work at providing educational supports to our students, the contract awards a small raise each year over its three years. In order to offset some of this raise in pay, the paraprofessionals agreed to a less expensive health plan with higher co-pays.
At the school board’s November 2nd meeting, two representatives from Concord High School, Principal Tom Sica and Assistant Principal Tom Crumrine, presented the third annual report of Deerfield students’ progress at CHS. This report, http://tiny.cc/ConcordReport2016, which can be found at the DCS website (sau53.org/dcs), compares our students’ academic and co-curricular experiences with their Concord counterparts and illustrates the various successes that our students are finding in their high-school education. Through the Curriculum Review Board (CRB) and other avenues, DCS will be using this information to reflect on our curriculum here at the middle-school level.
In a move that will likely complement this self-analysis, the SAU Executive Board recently proposed to the full SAU Board the creation of a new SAU-wide Curriculum Coordinator position. This new position would help DCS in such ways as coordinating curriculum with Concord and applying for grant money. Our budget would be only slightly affected as funding for this new position would be divided among the five school districts of SAU 53, and some room has been created in the SAU budget by eliminating another position. Last week the full SAU board voted to include the new position in the proposed budget for 2017-2018.
One of the recent extra-curricular additions to DCS, the after-school enrichment program that began last year, has not yet run this fall due to a lack of adult volunteers. Our children clearly enjoyed and benefited from this valuable program, as evidenced by the large participation, and DCS looks forward to running it again. If you are interested in sharing your talents and hobbies in this stipended position, please contact Kathy Berry (firstname.lastname@example.org).