The Plympton School Committee met virtually on Monday, Feb. 28. The committee and administration discussed next year’s budget. Committee member Jason Fraser shared good news on the Chapter 70 front. Fraser said that Governor Baker’s House 1 budget contained a “nice surprise” for Plympton. “This is from years of trying to be recognized for our small-town needs… but also due to the 20 percent enrollment increase,” he explained. He continued, “I think that the State is definitely stepping up to help us with that tremendous enrollment growth.” Fraser said that due to the increase in Chapter 70 funding, the town “wouldn’t show a net increase in funding the Dennett for next year.” Committee Chair Jon Wilhelmsen said they would need to have a discussion with the Finance Committee to drive this point home. Fraser also said that due to something called being held harmless, even if the town were to see an enrollment decrease down the line, the town wouldn’t be held responsible.
Superintendent Jill Proulx shared an updated version of the preliminary budget with the Committee. Director of Business Services Christine Healy said that all shared cost positions, including a Human Resources Director and a Technology Technician, were now included in the budget. Additionally, Proulx said that Circuit Breaker, the State’s special education reimbursement program, was now estimated at 70 percent to get closer to what it will likely end up being. Additionally, there was an increase for ELL (English Language Learners) as well as a .2 added to the music position.
Proulx told the Committee that she had submitted a grant for $20,000 that would be used to offset the cost of a kindergarten teaching position. Assistant Superintendent Ryan Lynch also provided an update on grant funding. He said that they would be receiving a mix of grants at the State and Federal level including rural aid, ESSER funding, Title II A, Title IV, and special education allocations.
Regarding the current year’s budget, Healy said, “right now the budget is still supporting all of the activities within our building and some outside the building.”
Dennett Elementary Principal Peter Veneto provided a Principal’s Report saying there were 242 students currently enrolled. Veneto said that the DARE officer had completed his curriculum with the sixth-grade class and would soon be moving to the fifth-grade class. The intention is to provide DARE education to all grades before the end of the school year. The Assistant District Attorney will be holding an assembly on cyber safety in March for the older students at Dennett. CASA will be holding Winterfest on March 18. Veneto also said that they remain hopeful that they will be able to hold a talent show this spring provided the COVID numbers continue to move in the right direction.
Additionally, the Dennett is hoping to create a mural made entirely out of painter’s tape as an art project in early April. A similar one was made at Silver Lake Regional High School which Veneto called, “absolutely amazing.”
Proulx shared with the Committee a brief update regarding masking. The CDC is no longer requiring masks to be worn on school buses. Massachusetts previously removed the mask mandate for K-12 schools effective following February break. “Individuals may continue to wear them if they so choose and will be supported in that,” Proulx said. Lynch said that they had held a professional development day earlier that day. The focus was on inclusivity and relationship building.