“If #8 does not pass wait until they get the new budget……!” – Supt. Mike Hammer at the Board Meeting following the Public Forum
After Monday’s Public Forum, the Board voted to eliminate all scenarios EXCEPT:
#8 – “Move 7th and 8th Grade to KES and move 9-12 KHS to the NEW MOUNTAIN BROOK complex – close KMHS.
#11 – No Change – Schooling continues as is.
The Board has the votes necessary to pass #8 in December.
The Superintendent’s remarks:
This update is a little difficult as people may misinterpret my comments about “staying the same”.
A brief update on last night’s meeting: the board whittled down its options for consolidation at last night’s meeting. One option that remains as a choice for consolidation is to move the 7th and 8th grades from KMHS to KES and have 9-12 grade students move up to the Dyer Brook complex (building and grounds qualifying as “a complex”). The second option is “no change”.
The idea to have two K-12 building gained a lot of support and discussion last night. It does not offer the amount of savings as are in the other plans. It would offer significant financial investment in renovations to either facility. This option has some benefits; however, it does not bring the educational benefits to a combined 9-12 grade facility/complex. It was not voted as an option to for further consideration.
Personally, and again in my opinion as the current superintendent, we cannot have “no change”. The public did speak last night from 5:30 to 6:20 or so. They were heard by the board. Thirteen people spoke in favor of “keeping things as they are”. I asked the board for clarification of what this means to them and I believe we have many opinions about what that might be. For me, I will not embrace keeping things the same. There are opportunities that we can build on and enrich for our students. Our teachers do a wonderful job and as Principal Jon Porter pointed out to me in an email we have made some gains in our “report cards”. That’s another story.
From my recent visits with town managers, selectmen, community members, teachers, and board members, I conclude that many do not truly embrace “no change”. The one thing we count on is change. The board has put these two options as an agenda item for decision at the December 14th board meeting. If the vote is for no further consolidation, I will passionately advocate for the board to make additions to the budget that will enrich, support, and extend the educational opportunities for students in their “own” school.
Some wonder what the specific offerings would be if the high schools were together, increases in electives, (creative writing, drama, forensics, anatomy, physics, chemistry labs on both white and colored days, two sections of English, updated lab equipment) the list goes on. We need to compete globally; we’d like pathways that prepare students for career and higher education. Many of these items are already being developed, in isolation, for small groups of students. Some of these opportunities would be easier if our students were in the same complex, some won’t take a lot of financial resources, that being said, they will require the voters to support the education of their students. This is a truly complex challenge, I understand we don’t want to have “winners” and “losers”, I don’t want to take the identity from a community. The truth is, people are passing by these communities due to a variety of causes or they are on a fixed income, they also love it here and want to raise their children here. There are not currently multiple industries moving into the communities. The financial support we enjoyed in the 80″s and 90’s and early 2000’s is no longer reality. We have declining enrollment and high teacher attrition. I want to focus on the positives, increasing opportunities for students and moving the district toward a common vision. I will work at this regardless of what the vote is in December.
Lastly, I want to thank the 4th graders who invited me to their ceremony and the veterans for their service to our communities. Please take time to remember them tomorrow as we celebrate Veteran’s day.”