March 17, 2017
The school committee officially adopted the FY’18 budget at their March 8 meeting. The budget is identical to the one discussed over the past three months,
This past week’s blizzard, and the ongoing potential for even more inclement weather after the official start of ‘spring’ on Monday, March 20, remind us that the old adage, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes” by Mark Twain has much truth to it. While we all recognize that the official starting and ending times for seasons are based upon the sun’s position (equinoxes and solstices) relative to the earth, we also know that the weather patterns don’t necessarily adhere to the astronomical seasons. We’ve certainly experienced that this year with a warm spell in February and a cold snap on both sides of the most recent storm (hence the need to cancel school for two days, one for the actual storm and another to clean up and prepare for the students to return). What the weather has in store for us moving forward remains unclear and we know that it’s still possible to have a significant snow storm in April.
At this point we have missed 8 days of school due to weather related issues. In spite of this, our current last scheduled day of school is Wednesday, June 14 due to the use of five “Blizzard Bag” days where work that students completed out of school allows us to count those days as school attendance days. (Graduation remains on Friday, June 2.) This also means that we will not have to shorten April vacation to make up any lost days. Of course this is only one aspect of the blizzard bag idea and we remain committed to gathering input from staff, students, and parents to inform future decisions around the modification and use of blizzard bags as we move forward.
It seems as though our students and staff are always active throughout the year and it’s sometimes impossible to think they could get any more involved and busy. However, as we move into spring and all of the activities surrounding the end of the year, the pace will pick up substantially. With the spring sports schedule, the performing arts activities, final exams (all high school students will have a common final exam schedule this year), holding additional information gathering sessions for the Gateway 2025 project, graduation, and closing the year, things get a little crazy. This is all compounded by the state’s required testing schedule during this time of the year (MCAS and PARCC) that mandates exactly when certain assessments will occur and how these assessments are provided. With a little luck, we’ll be able to avoid any more school cancellations, which become even more disruptive at this time of the year, and be able to complete all of our responsibilities without having to reschedule the end of the school year.
In the meantime, we continue to expand student opportunities through the Gateway Education Foundation and are already beginning to plan scheduling and activities for next year. Of course we also hope to have to decrease town assessments based upon additional state aid for education through the state budget process, which we are all following closely as we inexorably move closer to our own towns’ annual town meeting. I certainly hope that we’ll all be seeing the spring weather we anticipate in the near future.