Snow days have hindered our routine this past week. I realize many students, and some staff, rejoice at the sound of my recorded voice canceling school and use the time to catch up on rest and homework, but for others it means canceling meetings and doubling up on work to make up for the missed time. Amidst the clogged downtown traffic and towering snow banks, I am very grateful for our DPW workers and the many hours they have committed to clearing our streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.
I am pleased to welcome our new School Committee Vice Chair Ed Zuchowski. Mr. Zuchowski has served on our School Committee for five years and serves as the Chair of the Budget and Property Subcommittee. With this transition, we are so very thankful for Stephanie Pick and her twelve years of School Committee service as well as her leadership as Vice Chair. She consistently demonstrates a passionate commitment to our students, teachers, and administrators. Ms. Pick will continue to support us all during her last year in office representing Ward 5 and then as a supportive citizen for many future years.
Budget work continued this week, with principals and central office staff preparing to work within our guidelines for FY14. During our regular School Committee meeting last evening, I shared some of the ideas we are using to draft our FY14 budget: increase in fees in athletics, school lunch, and possibly full-day kindergarten, review of the possibility of reducing/eliminating our bus service to the high school, and the reduction of some teaching and staff positions. All told, our budget will reflect bridging the gap of about $800,000.
The ad hoc High School Late Start committee continued their work and information gathering this week. They appear to be on track to provide a recommendation by April.
Johanna McKenna, Karen Jarvis-Vance, David Pomerantz, Captain Scott Savino and Captain David Callahan, met with me this week to continue our discussion of the safety plans and resources for our schools. Key points discussed: increase key distribution for all faculty and staff, purchase more walkie-talkies for in-building and outside communication, complete the camera and buzzer system at the high school, and reconfigure JFK and Leeds entrance areas. We are also interested in building an “adopt-a-school” program with police officers who would visit schools and classrooms to build relationships with students and teachers.
I wish for everyone a safe and healthy February Break.
Brian L. Salzer