The Plympton School Committee met Monday, Feb. 26 to discuss the current physical and financial state of the Dennett Elementary School. The first update was regarding the sign at the end of the driveway of the school. There are plans for the entrance to contain a lighted sign, important for informing unfamiliar visitors of the school’s whereabouts, especially at night. The school is currently seeking quotes for this project, which is suspected to be easy, as there is a meter located closely behind where the sign would be placed, according to Chairman Jon Wilhelmsen.
The Dennett Elementary has been experiencing water filtration issues over the past several years, which should be coming to an end shortly, according to Wilhelmsen. The water treatment project has been progressing quickly, and a contract is due to be signed prior to April vacation. The school could then use April vacation or the beginning of summer to conclude the project. The committee expects there to be safe drinking water provided at the school by fall.
Along with the safety of the water, the safety of the current playground at the Dennett is being evaluated. The committee announced that following February break they are planning to contact Marshfield Public Schools, who have adopted a safer playground model within the past three years. The committee hopes for suggestions and may follow Marshfield’s model for safe recreation.
The committee continued the meeting by discussing the new tiles that have been installed by the 2nd and 3rd grade wing of the school. They had been popping out of the floor, in desperate need of repair. The school followed Kingston’s new tile renovation as the tiles used are durable, soundproof, and easy to clean, saving the school money on maintenance.
The generator at the school has experienced significant issues, resulting in budgeting for a new one. The school anticipates spending $69,850.13 on the project, as wiring, purchasing, and a short time rental of a new one are included in the pricing.
In addition to budgeting for a new generator, the committee discussed appropriately increasing funding to professional development and special education. Joy Blackwood, Superintendent of Silver Lake Public Schools discussed how surrounding districts are planning to raise budgeting 6.5% for special education, resulting in Silver Lake’s participation. Professional development is in a $6000 deficit by the end of the school year due to graduate program financial aid provided through the district. However, with a high number of retirements projected for 2019, the district finds it best to increase funding of professional development and training for the new hires taking the positions of those retiring.
With this increased budget for professional development, it would help aid in restructuring the previous year’s programs for faculty. By doing so, it is able to ensure the district is in compliance with civil rights for the state. The program would train and gain recognition for inexperienced teachers on historically marginalized subgroups and ensuring no equity gaps in the classroom.
In efforts to help the town’s budget, it was suggested by Superintendent Blackwood to split the cost of new textbooks to be ordered at the end of the school year in half, progressively paying it off throughout two years. She also suggested there may be sudden retirements within the district, which could, in fact, help the school’s budget as well.
As of Feb. 26, there are 204 students enrolled at Dennett Elementary, with one more month for students to enroll.
The meeting ended with dates to remember for the upcoming month of March:
March 9 – Early Release Grades 7-12: 10:45 a.m.; Grades K-6: 12 noon (NO lunch served)
March 22 – Early Release Grades K-6: 12:45 p.m. Parent Conferences
March 26 – Next Plympton School Committee Meeting.