Updates from the Superintendent

Beginning October 2012, below you will find monthly updates from Superintendent Elaine Tomaszewski.  Should you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding these updates, please e-mail information@wocsd.org

December, 2012 Update from the Superintendent

posted Dec 18, 2012, 11:43 AM by Fran Prentice   [ updated Dec 18, 2012, 11:44 AM ]

School Committee News

Sarah Tavares is our newest member of the School Committee. She was appointed by the Ogunquit Select Board on December 4th and attended her first School Committee meeting December 5th. We welcome her and appreciate her willingness to fill the unexpired term until June, 2013.

High School Building Project

The high school Building Committee is making very good progress.  At their meeting December 12th they selected an option for the architects to develop into a concept design.

The diagram for this is attached.  They will next verify what the staff and students reported for what departments they would like to have in proximity. Meetings generally take place the second and fourth Wednesday of each month for 6:00 to 8:00 PM in the WHS library.  They are open to the public. Note we will not meet on December 26th but will resume the schedule on January 9th.

Question of the month:  How is the decision made to call off school on snow days?

Answer: It is a multiple step process.  At about 4:15 AM a phone call update regarding the weather is received.  Next local road reports are obtained and the transportation company is called.  By this time the second cup of coffee is poured and calls from area superintendents   begin coming in (after they have made the similar calls outlined above).  

Based on the best information available at the time the decision is made. If we do cancel or call a delay, more calling or on line work takes place.  We send the information to the three television stations, several radio stations, post it on our website, and develop the message for our automated phone calling system a/k/a " robo call" . The call is set to be delivered at or about 5:00 AM.

Budget Note

Two things have happened regarding the school budget for the current year (FY’13).  In late November we were informed our state subsidy was reduced by $6575.  This reduction was applied to all public schools in the state. The second issue is the potential curtailment as a result of the federal “fiscal cliff” and in response to the state budget, since revenues are not meeting projected targets.  We were told to expect the Governor’s plan last Monday but as I write this we do not have any information on how it will impact our district.  Please know as we learn of any changes we always attempt to keep any reductions as far from impacting students as possible.

The Season

The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut have touched us all. Perhaps it is because Newtown is so close in proximity and its New England town atmosphere and culture so similar to our own that we are so deeply saddened.  Of course it is because of the children as well that the nation’s grief is profound.  It is difficult to think of the holiday spirit so close to this tragedy, but we as a society are resilient. Let us hope all the families and loved ones impacted can draw upon their resiliency as they grieve.

As we turn the calendar to the final month of 2012, I hope you can look back on 2012 and recall many happy memories. May you, your families and all you hold dear find peace and happiness in the New Year.

November 2, 2012 Update from the Superintendent

posted Nov 2, 2012, 10:23 AM by Fran Prentice   [ updated Nov 6, 2012, 8:01 AM ]

Storm Notes

Although we were ready, I don’t think many of us thought we’d be using our storm alert procedures in October, but Hurricane Sandy proved otherwise.  A huge thank you goes out to all our custodians who made sure our buildings were secure through the power outage then up and running when power returned.  We also know all these fine men and women do a tremendous job every day, but times like “Sandy” make the appreciation more apparent.

I will take this opportunity to remind everyone we use an automated message system for all alerts, including storm closing and early releases.  If you did not receive a call at approximately 5:30 AM on October 30, please call Fran Prentice at 646-8331 so we can update your information.

School Committee

Jackie Bevins, Ogunquit School Committee member has resigned her position.  The Town of Ogunquit is now responsible for appointing a member to finish Jackie’s term.  They will be doing this at their November meeting.  If you are an Ogunquit resident interested in serving, contact Tom Fortier, Ogunquit Town Manager.

WHS Building Project

At the October 10th meeting of the Building Committee Zachary “Zak” Harding and Josh Gould were elected Co-Chairs of the Committee.  Both have experience with school building projects and will be enthusiastic and hard working leaders.  We congratulate them on their unanimous appointments.

The School Committee is scheduled to appoint an architect firm on Wednesday, November 7th at their regularly scheduled meeting.  They will also agree to a contract at that meeting.  Immediately following the School Committee meeting they will begin a workshop with the Building Committee members and representatives of the architect firm.  A tentative project timeline will be available.  We will post new information on the district website under “WHS Building Project”.

Legislation Impacts Our Schools

The 125th Maine Legislature was perhaps the most involved in educational issues of any in recent memory.  As a result, schools across Maine are responding to new laws and regulations.  Your School Committee is aware of the requirements and has asked us to develop appropriate policies and procedures for compliance.

I will list a few here and explain our progress in future updates:

LD 1422: “An Act to Prepare Maine People for the Future Economy”. This requires standards based (a/k/a proficiency based) high school diplomas by 2017 (now extended to 2018)

  • We have discussed this with the Administrators, attended conferences and webinars on the topic and met with a Phase One Committee to study the issue.  It will continue to be a focus since this will change curriculum, instruction, assessment and reporting.  The DOE is working on defining the requirement more clearly.

LD 1237: “An Act to Prohibit Bullying/Cyber Bullying in the School”.  This requires the Commissioner of Education to develop – by January 2013 – a model policy for schools to follow.

  • The Policy Committee is following the Commissioner’s work on this and will bring forward a policy when it is ready.  This will require explanation and dissemination through various channels such as student handbooks.

LD 1865: This allows for only five dissimilar days in the school calendars of Technical Centers and sending high schools.

  • This will require work on the part of all the sending schools and will be taken up when we create the 2013-14 school calendar.  Work on the calendar begins in February.  We use the two readings practice as we do with policy adoption so there is time for the public to comment.

Question of the Month

How many of our students continue their education after high school?

The latest information released from the National Student Clearinghouse via the Mitchell Institute indicates in 2011, 67% of Wells High School graduating seniors enrolled in post-secondary education giving us a six year average of 69%.  This is higher than the statewide result of 61%.

In fact, between 2001 and 2011 while the state rate rose from 57% to 61%, and York County’s rate rose from 51% to 61%, Wells High School’s rate rose from 60% to 69%.

If you have a question you would like asked, please contact me via e-mail or phone. 

Enjoy November and Happy Thanksgiving to you, your families, and everyone in your lives for whom you are thankful.

October 2012 Update from the Superintendent

posted Oct 10, 2012, 6:07 AM by Fran Prentice   [ updated Oct 10, 2012, 6:09 AM ]

It is hard to believe we have completed the first month of the school year, but the calendar does say October.

We’ve had a successful opening of school thanks to the combined efforts of our students, their families, all our staff and our School Committee.

School Committee

We welcome three new members to our School Committee.  They are Cory Thyng – Wells, Jackie Bevins – Ogunquit, and Sue Pollard – Ogunquit.

The School Committee held two “retreat” meetings during August/September to plan their work for the year ahead and review their roles and expectations of School Committee service.

Our School Committee meets the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30PM in the Superintendent’s Office conference room.  All regular meeting are open to the public.

WHS Building Project

Over the summer, the Wells High School Building Committee was selected and appointed by the School Committee. Potential Architect/Engineering firms were interviewed and references checked.  At this point the selected firm is developing a proposal for the work. Once we agree to this it will be presented to the School Committee for a vote. From there the architects will develop a concept design which we will take to the voters.  The target for that referendum is June of 2013.  We do have a link on the district website “WHS Building Project” which is updated as we have new information.

Question of the Month          

Why do the schools do so much testing?

(Note: this question has been raised by teachers, parents, a School Committee member and my 82 year old aunt)

Answer:       A certain amount of testing/assessment is required by regulations.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a national assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas including mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography and US history.  If our school is selected for testing, we are required to administer the NAEP.

We choose to administer the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress in order to assess individual and class student progress as it happens.  We administer reading and math in grades 3 – 8 and reading only in grade 9.

The State of Maine requires administration of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) to meet No Child Left Behind Act requirements for testing reading and mathematics once each year from grade 3 through grade 8.  The state also includes a writing assessment administered at grades 5 and 8. 

All high school juniors must complete the SAT (state requirement) and to be helpful we administer the PSAT to our sophomore and junior year students.

District Survey

Last spring we developed a survey in conjunction with the Center for Applied Research and Evaluation through the University of Southern Maine.  We asked all staff, students in the junior high and high school, parents and community members to take the survey.

Of the 533 surveys returned, participation was as follows:

137           Staff

237           Parents and Community Members

159           Students

The results follow.  For questions that were asked of more than one group, all answers were combined into one response slide.  As the summary slide indicates, we are pleased students feel well known by adults in our schools, that they are held to high standards while feeling their needs are being met and our school culture is conducive to teaching and learning.

We were not surprised the top issues include a new high school, improvements to technology and more communication.

We are using the results in our goal setting and planning and will reassess using the survey again.

 Click HERE to review the results of the survey

Communication

As survey results indicate, we can always improve communication efforts.  We have made a few changes along those lines.  The Superintendent’s Update will be posted on the district website each month.  Look for November’s on or about November 1.

We have updated the homepage of the district website for ease of use.  We also have a Facebook page.  You can check us out at:  http://facebook.com/WellsOgunquitCSD

Thanks go out to Michael Richards, our Technology Collaborative Content Coach for his work on these. 

Feel free to give feedback on these efforts.

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