Technology for the 21st century
by Becky Harvey
DUDLEY - The Dudley Charlton School Committee meeting of February 27 kicked off on a dire note: the pending sequestration by the federal government would mean large cuts to the Title I program of the Dudley Charlton School District. There would be substantial cuts to that program, and special education in general, should the sequestration proceed on March 1st. There is a seven-page document listing the numerous cuts, according to Superintendent Sean Gilrein. In conjunction with other superintendents from around the Commonwealth, he wrote to the federal government with complaints about the devastation these cuts would create.
Another not so wonderful bit of news was that there was a bus accident on Wednesday, despite the two-hour, weather-caused delay. The bus was “tapped” by another vehicle, a small car. Only two students were aboard and neither was hurt.
The superintendent put forth a proposal in support of an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and a requirement for all gun buyers to pass criminal background checks. He asked if the committee would support this position statement. Committee Chairwoman, Geraldine Nowicki, suggested that the superintendent consult the local police chiefs to see where they stand with regards to the points made in the document.
Kindergarten registration was held on Tuesday. Sixty-one kindergarteners registered for Charlton Elementary, 28 of whom didn’t appear on the town census. Forty-eight students registered for kindergarten at Mason Road Elementary. Another registration will be held on Thursday.
Daniel D’Arcangelo, the District Technology Director, presented the 2014 technology budget. He reported that the district currently has 1100 computers and that he will be moving all to Windows 7 and Office 2013 within the next few months, as Microsoft has announced its plan to discontinue support for older versions which the district now employs. D’Arcangelo has begun consolidating the servers used from six down to one central. He has also completed the additions of wireless hubs in all the offices of each school, where only the libraries previously had them. The department continues to replace obsolete hardware and upgrade. The new proposed budget is $715,700, more than that of the previous year. This is due to a concerted effort to move into the 21st century.
Gilrein followed with a request for the committee to approve the preliminary budget of $48,492,786. While discussing the proposed budget, he raised concerns about growing class sizes, as large as twenty-six to twenty-seven. The vote passed unanimously. The proposed budget would bring assessments to Charlton in the amount of $12,257,525 and to Dudley in the amount of $7,702,056.
Digital learning and student readiness was addressed with regard to the Project 24 Framework. School employees did a self-assessment. It included framing their visions for student learning. Steps: investigating, envisioning, planning and staging. The overall readiness of the district was right about “midway” to where they want to land. The teachers felt that they were extremely strong in the area of curriculum development collaboration. The preliminary evaluation showed that the district was ready to move into the planning stage. The highest score achieved was in evidence-based decision-making, where they scored a ten out of ten. Overall, the schools are ready for a move on this, but as noted by D’Arcangelo, this will not be cheap. If the schools are to keep up with the times, and keep the schools and students digitally equipped, funding will need to be made available and not just for a one-time output, but on a consistent basis. This would be to keep the technology up to date once they get up with the times.
The Dudley Charlton Education Foundation generously donated $4000 to an art show in May at the Shepherd Hill High School called Reflection: Art through the Ages. This will be a program to showcase all students’ work in grades k-12 and will show between 2500 to 2700 pieces of art created by the district’s students. The committee unanimously agreed to accept the donation.