It’s difficult to believe that students will be back in less than a month on Wednesday, August 29. Summer seems to go by quickly, especially when there is so much to accomplish before staff and students return. Progress is being made on many different fronts and I’m sure that everything will be in place in a timely manner. This includes the finishing touches on a number of building improvements ranging from replacing floors to updating the audio/visual components of the Performing Arts Center, with many smaller projects in between. We’ll also be prepared to welcome our youngest students in full day preschool at both the new location at the middle/high school and at Chester Elementary, are making progress on improving our literacy programs, and continue our work with student interventions including a full inclusion program for grades Kindergarten to second grade.
Of course the normal maintenance and deep cleaning are also occurring and are progressing well so, despite the various items still in hallways, things will be shipshape for our returning students. This has been a strange summer in terms of weather with a long period of no rain and then many days of wet weather (although unusual weather patterns seem to be almost normal over the past few years). Despite this our grounds are holding up well although a more consistent rainfall would certainly make things even better.
In the meantime, we’re waiting for a final state budget to be signed by the Governor and then seeing if there are any legislative overrides to finally determine what state aid for the district will be. We’re heartened to see that extra funding for small and rural schools was put into the joint budget and hoping that this will remain in the final budget. We also have to see how this potential additional money will be earmarked for the district before we can make any final recommendations to the school committee. Thankfully our earlier decreases in local contributions due to anticipated increases in state revenue to the district seem to be on target.
I’m also pleased that town and school officials continue to move forward in an ongoing collaborative effort around budgeting, planning for shared services, and deliberating on potential changes to bring the regional agreement up to date. This work is very likely to continue to move the towns and school district forward and result in our ability to further capitalize on our successes from this past year. I am sure that everyone will be hearing more about these activities as the year progresses.
I certainly hope everyone is getting opportunities to enjoy the summer and is partaking of the many activities available in the local area. Of historical note, our local fair season starts with the Littleville Fair the first weekend in August and continues the following week with the Middlefield Fair and then the Blandford Fair on Labor Day Weekend and hopefully they’ll have good weather, great attendance and provide opportunities for folks outside of the Gateway towns to see how nice our area is for so many things!