In the not-too-distant future, the Sandwich School District could take on a very new look, with one school catering to elementary students in kindergarten to grade 3 and another serving middle schoolers in grades 4 through 6. This would be in addition to a STEM Academy for 7th and 8th graders inside the high school.
Currently, the district consists of three kindergarten through grade 8 schools and a high school.
The idea for the new middle school/elementary school setup was discussed for the first time in public session during a school committee budget meeting Wednesday night.
The committee, and members of the school administration and finance departments, were meeting Wednesday to discuss the second draft of the school district’s budget for the coming year.
After changes equaling a slight reduction to the first draft’s budget, draft two still shows a jump in costs, reflecting recent changes to the system resulting in part to the launch of the STEM Academy in the fall.
A representative from the board of selectmen and all the school principals were present for Wednesday’s meeting.
In addition to budget line items of revenue and expense reports, superintendent of Sandwich Public Schools C. Richard Canfield passed out a 65-page report called Program and Staff Use Report.
Dr. Canfield also reminded everyone that producing a budget is about fairly representing the true and actual needs of the school system.
“Our job with this budget is to show what we need to run the schools and meet the needs of every student. I have been asked if I will seek an override to cover the budget but that is not for me to say,” Dr. Canfield said.
The program and staff use report shows how staff is allocated at each of the schools now and which staff will be moving when the STEM Academy is launched in the fall.
Andrea M. Killion, chairman of the school committee, noticed that services provided by intervention services and special services were spread out across three schools and could possibly be consolidated to save money.
“Yes, absolutely,” Dr. Canfield said. “I wasn’t going to get into it now.” He said Phase Two could be accomplished by moving grades K-3 and the Spinnaker Program [for autistic services], all to the Forestdale School, consolidating these services there; grades 4, 5, and 6 could all be in the Oak Ridge School; 7 and 8 in the STEM Academy; 9-12 at the high school; and the Wing School would be decommissioned and given back to the Town of Sandwich. “I recommend this as the way we should structure the schools,” he said.
Currently Sandwich Public Schools runs four schools in four buildings. Dr. Canfield’s Phase two recommendation would change that to running four schools in three buildings, but this may not happen for another two years.
The trick to Phase Two being able to help next year’s budget is timing. The budget for next year includes all five Sandwich schools: three K-6’s, the Stem Academy and high school.
“There is a possibility that Phase Two could happen earlier,” said Dr. Canfield, who then made a plea to hear from any staff members who may be retiring or not wanting to come back next year.
“We do know that there are some retirements happening in the system and if there are any staff members who could tell us now if they are retiring or leaving, that would help us now, for planning purposes, and to relieve some of their colleagues’ worries about having a job,” Dr. Canfield said.
Staff members under contract are not required to give notice until April 1, which will not help with Phase Two of system changes or the current budget process being completed now. Staff members being asked to return for the next school year do not have to be notified until April 15.
Another cost-saving highlight during the night’s discussion was to reassess the fees being charged for preschool.
Currently, families pay $100 for two full days a week, $150 for three and $200 for four full days. Dr. Canfield recommended reaching out to the Cape Cod Collaborative for a survey of what other districts charge and possibly raising these fees.
The last section of the program and staff use report covered the high school.
School committee member Nancy A. Crossman suggested that this was a good time to mention to the public that the hours of the high school will change next year and match the hours of the STEM Academy, with the day starting at 8 AM and ending at 2:30 PM. The high school day currently runs 7:30 AM to 2 PM.
“People really need to know this in order to plan ahead,” Ms. Crossman said.
The budget workshop will continue next week with a third draft to be reviewed on Wednesday, The process will be televised and both previous workshops can be watched on Sandwich Community Television.
Dr. Canfield announced that all of the budget drafts and revisions will be posted on the school’s website and he invited the public to review them and welcomed suggestions from the public on how the schools could best serve the community of Sandwich.