The Plympton School Committee met in person at the Dennett Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Assistant Superintendent Ryan Lynch gave a presentation on the results of the 2022 MCAS testing. Lynch said that data was provided for Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6 for both math and ELA but noted that the science data was for just Grade 5. No test was administered in 2020, a half test was given in 2021, and in 2022, all students took the full test. Lynch said that 52 percent of Dennett students are meeting or exceeding expectations in English Landuage Arts compared to 41 percent State-wide. In math, 50 percent of Dennett students are meeting or exceeding expectations compared to just 39 percent across the State. The school’s science scores were significantly higher than the State average. Lynch called science a “bright spot” for Plympton.
“The goal here at Dennett and across the District is to try and move that number back to where it was in 2019… the goal is to get to 70 percent meeting or exceeding,” Lynch explained. He further explained that while high achievement was noted for Dennett students, slower growth was also observed. The implementation of Collaborative Literacy in Grade 5 was among the programs instituted to ensure continued growth and improvement. A math interventionist and reading tutor is also part of the Dennett team as is a student support team who identifies students who may need increased interventions and progress tracking.
Superintendent Jill Proulx also provided an update to the Committee saying that the Admin team met with building principals regarding interventions and said that it was an important reminder of the role of data in identifying students that may need additional supports including those that are not on an IEP. She also said that herself and Lynch met with building principals, assistant principals, and local Police and Fire Departments regarding emergency support plans.
The Committee voted to join litigation against Juul Vaping for marketing its products to minors. Many other school districts, municipalities, and states have also joined the large-scale settlement. Silver Lake Regional School Committee voted to join during their last meeting as did the Halifax Elementary School Committee.
Chair Jon Wilhelmsen touched on some of the unfinished business including the ongoing issue of dog waste being left on the fields at the Dennett. Wilhelmsen summed up the problem saying, “new signs, no change.” The Plympton Police Chief has been approached regarding placing a large-scale sign by the school’s driveway. If that doesn’t yield results, the issue will again have to be revisited. Regarding the additional rubberized surfacing at the new playground, Director of Business Services Christine Healy said, “we’re on pause until later this winter to see if going out to bid is the best option.” Regarding the solar project at the Dennett, Wilhelmsen said, ““it’s still going… a bunch of emails going back and forth… trying to negotiate the agreements…. there’s just general disagreement about what should be in the contract.”
Each of the standing committees also provided a report. Committee member Jason Fraser provided the status for Admin Review saying that when they last met, they went over the Superintendent’s goals for the year. He noted that they would be meeting back with her again after the new year for the formative review process. Wilhelmsen provided the update for Negotiations saying, “all contracts are done.”
For Union 31, Superintendent Jill Proulx said that it just came to their attention that the current structure of the Silver Lake special education programs at the elementary schools isn’t allowed for under the Regional Agreement. She said that there are 34 staff members who fall under the special education umbrella in Kingston and two or three each in Plympton and Halifax. Proulx said that one of the first recommendations was to bring the pre-K into the regional agreement. Of the proposed change, Wilhelmsen said, “We voted in principle to support that.” Fraser said that DESE will give the District until June 30, 2024, to implement further changes. Proulx said, “We are working with our attorney and the Department of Education on how best to proceed.”
Fraser provided the Legislative update saying, “Next Tuesday is Election Day… please take the time to go out and vote and thank you to those people who put themselves out there to be candidates.”
Principal Peter Veneto was not in attendance so Assistant Principal Christine Marcolini provided the Principal’s Report saying that student enrollment currently stands at 238. She said that CASA put on a luncheon for staff on October 5 and that parent teacher conferences were held on October 27. Marcolini said, “We had a very successful book fair last week… we are grateful for that.” She also said that the entire staff was led in ALICE training by one of the Police Department’s officers.
Marcolini said that Melissa Ritter, a parent of a Dennett kindergartener, was hired for an open Title I reading position. She also reminded the Committee of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast at the School on November 17.
Healy provided an update on Circuit Breaker, the State’s special education reimbursement program. Healy said there is a threshold of anticipated costs and that once those costs are exceeded the Circuit Breaker kicks in and the school is eligible for some form of reimbursement usually in the 75 percent range. Anticipated costs this year are around $46,000. “We’re waiting for that final release of information, so we have some idea of where we stand at the end of the year,” Healy explained. She also told the Committee that Plympton still doesn’t have any students attending out-of-district vocational so the money that was budgeted there would likely be returned to the town at the end of the year.
Proulx told the Committee that budget season was officially underway. She said that she has asked that principals and directors submit their budget proposals for review by November 15. She also asked the School Committee to begin to think about their priorities and goals for the budget so they can work on those with their building principal. She also shared with the Committee that homeschool enrollment has remained static for Plympton at the elementary level while increasing by one for Grades 7-12. Finally, she said that while Plympton’s shared cost percentage was previously at 13 percent, it was down to 12.5 percent for FY24.
Before adjourning for the evening, Wilhelmsen shared some important dates to remember. He said that there would be no school for students on Tuesday, November 8 while it would be an in-service day for teachers. There will be early release on November 23 and the Thanksgiving break would be on November 24 and 25. The special Town Meeting will be held on November 30 in the cafeteria of the Dennett. There will be a joint school committee meeting on December 1 and a regular meeting on December 12.