By Mike Melanson
PLYMPTON — Plympton as a school district has made a comeback this year.
Last year, the Plympton district fell to a Level 2 status, as defined by the state education department.
This year, the district is back to Level 1, the top rank, according to assistant school Superintendent Joy Blackwood.
The ranking is based on MCAS scores, she said.
On Monday Sept. 22, Blackwood told the Plympton School Committee that the state has released MCAS scores.
Scores were to be sent home in children’s backpacks for elementary school students and by mail for secondary students on Thursday Sept. 25.
Blackwood said Grade 3 students did really well on the exams.
“Plympton did very well,” she said.
School Superintendent John Tuffy said 19-percent of school districts in the state are ranked as Level 1 districts.
Blackwood said the status shows the hard work of teachers and students.
She said the district’s special education needs were identified as a concern, and the town budgeted more money, so that Plympton was able to hire a second special education teacher.
Blackwood said she would do an in-depth presentation on the town’s MCAS scores at the October Plympton School Committee meeting, to be held Oct. 27.
Melissa Farrell, K-6 coordinator, will also discuss the results, she said.
The School Committee and selectmen Chairman Mark Russo voted, 6-0, in a joint vote to accept an agreement negotiated with the Plympton Teachers Association.
The new contract runs for three years, with raises of 2-percent for the first year, 2-percent for the second year, and 2-percent for the third year, Tuffy said.
The agreement also allows teachers to request to use sick days as bereavement leave, subject to the discretion of the superintendent, he said.
Tuffy said school Business Manager Christine Healy has put together a request for proposals for a recommendation on whether Plympton should use a reverse osmosis, salt or green sand design for a water treatment plant.
The project was approved by Town Meeting for the Dennett Elementary School to deal with a high level of manganese, he said.
The School Committee would choose which system to use, and the consultant would then produce a design and biddable documents for engineering and design, and then would come construction, Tuffy said.
“You will get some information and be asked to make an informed decision on how you would like to proceed,” he said.
Tuffy said the reverse osmosis system is expensive and there is a high maintenance cost.
Tuffy said the state is changing a law that requires schools to fingerprint all newly hired employees.
The school district started fingerprinting new hires last school years. The prints are run through a national criminal history database, he said.
The new state law now says that all employees must be fingerprinted, over the next two or three years, although administrators are waiting to hear about a timetable for doing so from the state, he said.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said.
Tuffy said the fingerprinting is done not by police but by a private vendor. The cost for the fingerprinting is $55 for licensed teachers and $35 for employees without licensure.
Parent volunteers with supervised access to schoolchildren must still be subject to criminal background checks, but for those with unsupervised access, fingerprinting will be required, he said.
Tuffy said he does not see the need to fingerprint parent chaperones on field trips to public places, but an overnight trip would require fingerprinting.
School Committee member Gail Knight said it is hard to get volunteers already without asking them to take extra steps if fingerprinting is required of them.
“It’s a shame it has to be that way,” she said.
School Committee Chairman Brian Wick said the new state law seems well intentioned but not well thought out.