At last night’s School Committee meeting, administrators rushed to assure that, in light of recent commotion at Nashoba Regional High School involving the police, Nashoba is working to keep students safe. And, there may be a proposal involving Stow to ease up what is becoming a space crunch at the high school.
Some Committee members mentioned being “flooded” with calls and emails the last few weeks from parents questioning why the police were called to NRHS several times earlier this month. According to Bolton Police records, officers were brought into the high school to quell disturbances ranging from a verbal argument in the cafeteria, to an assault on a police officer. A student was arrested after posting a photo of himself on social media with a realistic-looking fake revolver, and making threats to other students.
The Wednesday before April vacation, NRHS Principal Dr. Parry Graham issued a general statement about the incidents in his weekly phone update to high school families. Without giving details in this message, he stressed that other students were never in danger. Superintendent Michael Wood also sent a memo to Committee member about the events.
Referring to rumors that got out of hand, Graham told the Committee last night, “The actual instance [in the cafeteria] – there wasn’t a fight, there was no one injured.”
”Parry, I don’t want you to dismiss that,” stressed Bolton Rep. Lorraine Romasco. “Something should have gone out earlier to the community.”
“When you have over 1,000 teenagers, stuff happens. I want to get out information that only makes the situation better,” Graham responded. “And if there’s an expectation that every time something happens at the high school that I’ll be sending out something, that won’t work.”
Graham emphasized that he wanted the full story before talking to the public. “When we got back to what really happened, it was one kid saying something about another kid, but it takes us awhile to figure that out.”
“I understand that, but we’ve got to work harder,”Romasco asserted.
Given recent events at NRHS, Graham took the time to outline the district’s “response to intervention” initiative as having the potential to help, among others, some of the students involved in the month’s incidents that are at risk of failing or dropping out. Looking over recent data of the students with at least one D or F on their report cards, Graham concluded that the majority have more than one of these poor grades, and face outside pressures—unstable homes, substance abuse—that impact their grades.
The 2014/15 budget proposes two additional staff members to address this group, with these professionals focusing on the middle and high schools, Graham said. Given recent events, he added, Nashoba is accelerating the hiring process, hoping to have the staff on board as soon as possible after the school budget hopefully is passed at May’s town meetings.
A Modular Proposal
With Nashoba’s Space Study Task Force meeting regularly to discuss tightening space at the high school, Michael Wood noted that one temporary solution could be attaching a modular classroom to the building. As Stow prepares to sell a modular unit at the former Pompositticut School, Wood explained Nashoba is looking into whether that would be a reasonable option. However, the district would first need to figure out how to fund moving and setting up the unit, he noted.
More Time On Kindergarten
There is a possibility the kindergarten day could be a bit longer come the fall. Earlier this year, the Committee voted in Wood’s proposal to phase the current mix of half- and full-day kindergarten classrooms into all full-day within three years.
Responding to parents of some half-day students expressing concern that their children will not receive the same quality education as full-day students, Wood explained that the kindergarten staff is examining how to best structure the day for everyone. One consideration is to add 25 minutes to the morning session (the session that half-day students will attend) and go until 12 noon, he said.
The Word on Finances
In his third quarter financial summary, Asst. Superintendent George King reported that the current budget remains in good shape. He noted there actually is a surplus in the insurance budget, and no long-term shortages to report. In addition, he projected that the overall debt for the NRHS athletic field concession project should stay below $70,000 and be absorbed into the budget, as planned.
Unofficially, the state turned down Nashoba’s proposal for partial funding of the high school’s roof repair project, Wood said. Stressing that the state’s decision has not yet been confirmed, Wood also mentioned that Nashoba also does not know exactly why the project may have been turned down.
Finally, the Committee voted to release the minutes for the past year’s executive sessions, dating back to April 2013.