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Reflections on the 2015-2016 School Budget

Dr. Canfield spoke to the Sandwich Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 4, 2015. His remarks are below.

Good evening Mr. Moderator.

On behalf of the more than 3000 students and 2,000 families served by the Sandwich Public School system, I thank all our residents for supporting our hometown schools.  Sandwich has a proud tradition of educational success within its schools, and the district will continue to stress giving back through community service offered by our students and our staff.

This FY16 budget provides funding to complete the reorganization of the school district…to re-size and reorganize to address today’s enrollment.   The efficiencies realized by what our involved parents are now calling “Sandwich U-Knighted” allows us to provide high quality programs at significant savings.  With this budget, Sandwich continues to spend less per student than any other town on Cape Cod, and less than the state average.  This speaks to the efficiency of our operations, and our ability to provide a high quality education through those efficiencies.

I am proud to say that this budget provides full-day kindergarten at no cost to our families.  The educational benefits of high quality, early childhood learning are well documented in research, and encouraged by both the state and federal governments.  Support for the families of our youngest students at Forestdale are being described by other districts as “living the dream”, because the unified approach allows us to design a unique program, with partnering organizations that offer family support services. Additionally, academic support services for both intervention and special education can be tailored to meet specific grade level needs at each school.  This is a very good thing for Sandwich.

While Oak Ridge becomes a large school of over 900 students, the scheduling needs provide a silver lining, because study halls are not, and should never be an option in our schools. The repurposing of some positions from the Wing School closure, will provide an enhanced program that includes health, graphic arts design, and a STEM project-based class designed to challenge and grow higher order thinking skills among the students.

The Sandwich STEM Academy has been recognized as an exemplary model for STEM education in Massachusetts. The purpose of a recent visit from our state university provost and dean, was to explore the feasibility of developing similar models in other parts of the Commonwealth.  Our advisory boards of parents, and professionals in STEM related fields, and in arts and humanities related fields bring amazing opportunities to our grade 7/8 students.  This includes the recently announced partnership with the Institute for Marine Innovation, Research and Sustainability that will also provide opportunities for internships for high school students.

The Mandarin Chinese program has been selected as a Confucius Classroom School through UMASS-Boston, and our enrollment in Chinese language classes is skyrocketing.

Using the nationally, top-rated Project Lead the Way engineering program, designed by engineers for schools, 100% of our grade 7 & 8 students have engineering class and through project-based learning they discover the close relationship between STEM and the arts and humanities. This budget extends the STEM opportunities into the high school, beginning with grade 9.  Curriculum strands involving medical sciences, and computer programming or code, as well as cyber security and forensics will provide students with greater opportunities.  Our success is evidenced by our college acceptances that include the most competitive tier of colleges and universities, including the Ivy League and top engineering schools such as MIT.  Named as one of the top high schools in America, and named to the College Board Advanced Placement Honor Roll, we consistently perform near the top in MCAS performance. Additionally, this year through the national scholastic aptitude testing program Sandwich has the distinction of having a National Merit Finalist.

Changes to the administration of our athletic program, and the quality of our coaching staff, is producing excellent results measured not just in wins and losses, but in the percentage of student participation, and parental and student feedback on the quality of the experiences our athletes receive.  This now includes the unified 7 & 8 grade teams of the Academy that will help to sustain our programs now and in the future.

Our visual and performing arts programs, including Sandwich Soul, the 7 & 8 grade unified Squire Choir, our Jazz musicians, and in particular our Knight’s Theatre Company for grades 7-12 are among the best on and off of the Cape.

So, Sandwich now offers an excellent unified 6-year program on the high school campus, in a facility that includes the beautiful auditorium/theatre complex, stadium, and very soon, the pool. This high-quality program and this facility are difficult for other schools to match.  This budget supports the best game plan I can give you as your superintendent, to keep students in Sandwich.  Support for the program now, and in the future, represents the best plan.

Why? Because parents need to be confident that the program that extends curricula and opportunities emanating from the STEM Academy, that they have experienced as 8th graders will continue through their graduation.  While STEM is only 1-year old, the planning has gone on for 3-years.  It represents the recognition that education is not stagnant, and it must change and adapt to remain relevant and meaningful in an increasingly competitive and complex world.

The accomplishments cited here are yours too, for they can only occur with the support of our taxpaying community.

Thank you.

Dr. C. Richard Canfield

Superintendent of Schools