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Did You Know? School Committee Happenings November 29, 2017

by Stephanie Hall, Chair – Sandwich School Committee

Members were greeted this week by a packed auditorium at Town Hall!  A large number of SHS students were present and members appreciate their time, efforts and respectful commentary with regards to the Senior Project topic.

*Senior Project update – members heard from three speakers at public forum regarding this issue and each raised similar themes.  They spoke of the value of the Senior Project in theory but had issues with its implementation, timing, communication and classroom support.

Next, SHS Principal Mr. Mulcahy joined us to offer his input and guidance on this project at present and beyond.  Mr. Mulcahy noted his belief in the concept of Senior Project also and its value to students but agreed with prior speakers on the variety of issues raised.  He believes that administration needs more data on how this program can work in our district before making it a requirement for all.  Mr. Mulcahy spoke of the concept of differentiation of instruction for every student; how the project can be meaningful while also supported academically at every level.  He applauded students who had completed their projects or those in process and assured the SC that distinction at graduation will be made to these students, along with notations on their transcripts of their work.  Going forward, Mr. Mulcahy discussed some preliminary ideas regarding Senior Project going forward including re-implementation of classroom support, beginning the Project in the sophomore or junior years to increase its relevance for college admissions and possibly adding alternatives to the traditional Project like a civic/community service requirement.  Dr. Gould added her support to Mr. Mulcahy’s recommendation while also reiterating her belief in the concept and her appreciation for those students who have taken the initiative thus far.  Both administrators look forward to the opportunity to continue these discussions on the upcoming SHS program of studies.  Each SC member had the opportunity to ask questions of Mr. Mulcahy and Dr. Gould and offer his/her own thoughts on this subject.

A motion to change the Senior Project from “Required to Encouraged” was made and passed.  The Senior Project will not be a graduation requirement for all 2018 SHS seniors.  Administrators will return to School Committee with their recommendations on this topic for the new SHS Program of Studies in early 2018.

*Facilities presentation –  This week, Mr. Nelson joined us to share his “State of Facilities” report for the district.  As with Technology, we received additional capital funds from the Town last year for Facilities and the district made a commitment to begin work on a very long “to do” list for our buildings- Mr. Nelson detailed a long list of accomplishments to date through FY17 including the SHS Chiller replacement, wastewater repairs at Forestdale and Oak Ridge, budget development and capital funding planning and the Collaborative lease of the Wing school.  Additional projects planned for FY18 have already been completed; these include the School for Early Learning move to Forestdale, flooring replacement in all three buildings, security upgrades at Oak Ridge, science lab and bathroom updates at Oak Ridge and more.  For more information on upcoming projects, please click here to access Mr. Nelson’s presentation: Facilities- School Committee Report 11-29-17

While the list of needs is long, the School Committee appreciates the attention, investment and support in our facilities by our administrators.  We believe this work will resonate with town leaders and we look forward to returning to the Tri-Board meetings with this update of accomplishments.

 *SHS Ski Trips – the Committee heard about two upcoming ski trips by the SHS Ski Club and decided to waive the second reading and approve the trips unanimously.  They are planned for Loon Mountain on 1/20/18 and Waterville Valley 2/10/18.

*Coming up in December and January –  Coming up in December and January, it’s all about the FY19 Budget!  Administrators are hard at work crafting the FY19 budget and the SC will hold a budget workshop prior to our next business meeting on 12/20/17 for members to have an introduction to the new budgeting software called “My Budget File”.  The Superintendent’s recommended budget for FY19 will make its debut on January 3, 2018 and we will host a public hearing prior to the vote later in January.  (date TBA)

As always, we welcome your input and participation.  Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 12/6/17 7pm at Sandwich Town Hall – there will be two public forums available.  You can watch the meeting on SCTV, Channel 14, view online anytime at and email the SC at