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Report of the Superintendent – October 1, 2014

by Dr. Richard Canfield

This is the prepared report to the School Committee written and presented by Dr. Canfield

Christopher Melanson Memorial Scholarship Fund Donation

This evening it is my pleasure to welcome the Melanson family, Scott, Deb, and Barb and Jenn, sisters of Christopher, for a special donation in memory of Christopher Melanson.  Many months ago I received a phone call from Scott Melanson informing me that he was willing to contribute the balance in the scholarship fund established in memory of his son Chris, if it would help to repair the swimming pool.  I found that offer incredibly thoughtful and generous, but knew the scope of pool repairs would require a very large investment from the community.  I suggested that he hold onto the funds, and that we would all do our best to make the case for the repair and reopening of the pool.

At our last School Committee meeting I reported that while the replacement of the HVAC system was nearing completion, the final repair would involve tiling and regrouting, but that bid had come in much higher than anticipated.  It meant that funds from the Town Meeting Article could not include new starting blocks and lane lines, as we had planned.  This was personally upsetting because I knew from our competitive swimmers that the old blocks were warn and wobbly.  The lane lines were also in very poor condition. We had all believed that we would have the funds to address the need, but that would not be the case.

That evening, I recalled my conversation with Scott Melanson, and wondered if he would consider funding the blocks and the lane lines.  The next morning I mentioned my thoughts to Joan Caulkins.  Little did I know that Joan’s son Robert, and Chris had been swim team co-captains.  The tragic accident that took Christopher’s life touched the heart of this community, and especially our swim team families.  Joan liked the idea and reached out to Deb Melanson. Deb and Scott embracesd the idea with enthusiasm and are here this evening to present a donation from the Melanson family, in memory of a beloved son and brother, Christopher Melanson.

I asked Joan Caulkins to provide me with some background about Christopher’s accomplishments, and she provided the following information from her son Robert.

After the conclusion of an undefeated season of the Pilgrim Conference, Chris Melanson, a co-captain of the Swim Team, was named the Swim Team’s Most Valuable swimmer in a ceremony held at Sandwich High School honoring the winter athletes in March of 1994.  Robert Caulkins, also a co-captain of the Swim Team, reflected on that season with Chris.  Robert felt that a quote from Swim Coach Tony Compton, which appeared in an article in the Sandwich Broadsider, best depicted Chris’s dedication to swimming and diving.

 Most Valuable Swimmer – Chris Melanson

“A candidate for High School All-American honors, this young man set new team and pool records for both the six-dive and 11-dive formats that should stand for many years.  Runner up in last year’s State Division II Championship, he returned this year as one of the premier divers in the state.  He went 10-1 in dual meet competition, losing only to the eventual Division I runner-up.  He went undefeated in Pilgrim Conference meetings.  At the Conference Championships he established a new Conference record while defeating the defending league champion.  For the second year in a row he was named to the Pilgrim Conference All Star Team.  He was also voted the winner of the league’s Sportsmanship Award for the Pilgrim Conference.  He was the South Sectional runner-up.  He came back in true form in the State Diving Championship by establishing a new state record for Division II Diving, and for the second year in a row placed in the elite tier of top six divers from both divisions.”

The gift from the Melanson Memorial Scholarship Fund, will pay for new starting blocks selected by coach Tony Compton.  It will also pay for new lane lines and the storage reel used to remove and protect the lane lines.  A plaque will be placed on the wall nearest the starting blocks to commemorate the gift of starting blocks and lane lines by the Melanson family in memory of Christopher.

You can read more about the Melanson Family’s donation in the Sandwich Enterprise.

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 Budget 2015-2016 and Wing School – October 1 Enrollments

We have begun the budget work for FY16, as we collected our October 1 enrollments.  We are in the process of verifying the counts for mandatory state and federal submission.  There is much data and information to gather as we prepare a recommended budget for the 2015-2016 school year.  With all of the planning to be completed for the opening of school next September, I am hoping that we can come to an agreement with the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee to have some joint sessions, and to be open and transparent with the proposed school budget.  We all, town and schools, need to own the impact, good or otherwise, of the choices we make.  In many ways a budget is a belief statement as it reflects what we value and what we will spend through our funding sources.

On Tuesday evening, Alan Hall and I will be attending the Finance Committee meeting to provide an update on the capital projects funded through town articles.  I hope to foster a productive and meaningful working relationship with the town committees.

Currently, the town is asking that while we not use the Wing building as a school, that we not surplus it as our facilities department clearly has the know how and the experience to deal with the aged mechanicals in that building.  The property management services that we can provide can help the town ensure that the Wing does not degrade to a point where it becomes an eyesore within the historic village.  There are many details to be worked out, but the cost for maintaining the building will come from the same source, the Sandwich taxpayer.  We are willing to enter into a formal agreement to protect both the interests of the town and the schools…clearly, we are better when we all work together.  I will keep the Committee informed as discussions progress, as you would need to support the plan.

 PreK-2 and 3-6 Update

 I want you to be aware that we are in receipt of applications for the 4 planning groups.  This will be one Sandwich Elementary at two campus locations.  Forestdale, PreK-2 and Oak Ridge Grade 3-6.  A SMART goal with 10 pages of actions and timelines, that was shared with you at the last meeting, will drive our planning.  A Collaborative Design Teams at both schools will provide opportunities for faculty and staff input.  The teams will be led by the principal at the respective schools.  The Reorganization Planning Teams, one at each school, will provide opportunities for parent and community input.  Updates on progress will be shared with the Parents’ Council and with the School Committee.

Superintendent’s Oak Ridge Principal Search

 At the last meeting of the Parents Council, it became very clear to me that the reorganization would move ahead more efficiently and effectively if I were to appoint a principal for the Oak Ridge School.  This is an option for me under Massachusetts General law, but I am committed to being more inclusive in executive searches.  I am confident that we have strong internal candidates, and our recent experience in the marketplace, as well as feedback from some of my Cape superintendent colleagues, convinces me that there is more to be gained with an internal candidate who has the institutional knowledge to work with our parents, faculty, staff, and our children as we complete the resizing of the district.  The applications close on October 7 and I will organize a search committee with representation from each school.