Concord School Committee
Jan McGinn, Chair
The Concord Public Schools faculty, families, and administration remain focused on improvements and enhancements to student learning as the measure of our success. In order to support this focus, the School Committee has worked on a variety of issues during the past year, including the following:
Work on the school facilities has involved a significant portion of the School Committee's time and attention. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in September, folks from across the community gathered at the new Thoreau School for the ribbon-cutting and attendant speeches. Relocation of the Thoreau School to its Prairie Street address has allowed for the demolition of the "old" Alcott School, which had housed the community of Thoreau learners and faculty for two years. These exciting milestones mark completion of the second of three legs in the elementary school construction program.
At a March election and a vote of the Town Meeting, the community authorized expenditure of $1.8 million for the design of a new building at the Willard site. A broad-based committee of professionals with expertise in multiple disciplines has worked tirelessly since late summer to move the design process ahead. The School Building Committee is mindful of adhering to the regulations of the Massachusetts School Building Administration in order to maximize potential reimbursement for the construction costs. The Board of Selectmen has indicated a willingness to schedule a Town Meeting in the fall of 2007 to consider authorization for construction funds, thereby allowing the School Building Committee sufficient time to complete its design work.
Investments in the ongoing maintenance of school buildings have resulted in improvements, particularly at the two buildings of the Concord Middle School. A number of projects to improve hallways, locker space, lighting, and technology capacity have resulted in more effective environments for student learning.
The School Committee declared land at its Strawberry Hill Road property "surplus," thereby allowing the Board of Selectmen to consider alternative uses for the property. In concert with this, the Town purchase of fourteen acres of land adjacent to the Ripley School will allow for a substantial holding of contiguous land that will address future school site needs.
The Concord Public Schools have seen small but perceptible declines in enrollment over the past year, and this trend is likely to continue next year. With a slightly reduced professional staff supporting the K-8 system and the FY07 override, we have been able to implement modest programmatic expansion across the curriculum.
At the elementary level, schools have introduced a standardized writing curriculum and most faculty have taken advantage of the program's professional development. At the Concord Middle School, the faculty and staff have developed an increased focus on writing across the curriculum.
The School Committee continues to work with representatives of the Concord Teachers Association to conclude a fair and respectful contract. The contract expired on June 30, 2006 and it is the parties' hope to bring the issue to closure in the near term.
The School Committee recognizes that none of this forward movement would be possible without the ongoing financial support of the Concord taxpayer. We are grateful for their willingness to support financial requests in excess of the levy limit at the 2006 Town Meeting. We are pleased we can recommend a budget for the next fiscal year that will continue to deliver a high-quality education to our K-8 students with no need for a budget override.
We appreciate the support of the Board of Selectmen and of the Concord Finance Committee as we have worked to move issues forward.
And finally, we are grateful to the talented group of faculty, support staff, and administrators who serve on the front lines of education each day. They are the individuals who breathe life into the Town's commitment to educational excellence.
Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee
Michael Fitzgerald, Chair
2006 represented a year of continued efforts on a long-term facilities plan for cchs, developing plans for dealing with the fiscal challenges of the budget, and providing the support necessary for promoting the success of our students.
The Regional School Committee continued working on finalizing and implementing a plan for the future of the high school facility. The Massachusetts School Building Authority's (msba) moratorium on the funding of school construction projects ends July 1, 2007. The Regional School Committee believes that financial assistance and support from the msba is essential for moving a construction project at cchs forward. During the year, members of the Regional School Committee and school administrators, with representatives of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance Committees of both Concord and Carlisle met with the team from the msba. The meetings were informative and productive.
msba issued new regulations for communities to follow when applying for construction assistance funding. The new regulation process requires a review of all existing school facilities within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by a team of experts selected by the msba. Based upon their scale, the msba's team rated the cchs facility a "4." The msba defines a building rated "4" as a building that is in poor condition and a possible candidate for major renovation or replacement. The cchs facility is one of only eleven High Schools in the Commonwealth rated "4" by msba.
The Regional School Committee approved the filing of a Statement of Interest with the msba, the first major step in the review and project approval process established by msba. The Statement of Interest defines the problems and deficiencies of an existing facility, and offers evidence supporting the need for a future construction project. We will continue to work to move the process along and further define the long-term plans for the high school facility.
In addition to the long-term facility needs, we also made capital investments on projects pertaining to health and safety issues associated with the existing facility. During the year, new bleacher systems were installed in the upper gymnasium and on the football field. We installed new internal and external door systems necessary to meet fire code, replaced the existing intercom system, allowing two-way communication between classroom and the administration, and installed air handling equipment to improve the air quality of the art and photography rooms.
The financial issues experienced in prior years were somewhat tempered in 2006 by the additional Chapter 70 State aid for education distributed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Change in the enrollment ratio between the two member-communities of the school district resulted in the Town of Concord absorbing a higher percentage of the FY2007 budget as compared to the FY2006 budget. Proposition 2½ override votes were presented and passed by the voters in both Concord and Carlisle. We appreciate the continued financial support from the taxpayers of both communities who reached deeper into their pockets in support of the programs for cchs students.
Students at cchs continue to excel in the academic program offered at the high school. mcas scores earned by our students continue to rank among the highest in the State. Students continue to be accepted by many of the top colleges and universities in the country. On average, 93% of the recent cchs graduates enrolled in either four-or-two-year colleges or universities. This success is a testament to the hard work undertaken by students, support of their parents and dedication of the faculty and school administrators.
We thank the citizens of Concord and Carlisle for their continued support, both personal and financial, of the program at cchs. We also wish to express our gratitude to the faculty, administrators, and support staff for the exceptional work that they do in challenging and educating the children of our community.
Enrollment during 2006