School starts in just over a week but the schedule for Cole Middle School was only recently finalized and made public, causing frustration for some parents. Two administrator jobs, however, have been filled, which cuts in half the number of open administrator jobs in the district.
Maryann Crudale was named principal of Frenchtown School for the upcoming school year, taking a leave of absence from her teaching position at Eldredge. Crudale took part in the principal’s residency program under former Frenchtown Principal Cheryl Vaughn a few years ago.
Lisa Hughes was named director of student services. Hughes served as special education department chair in the Scituate Public Schools. Her first day was Monday, Aug. 21.
Both appointments were made by the School Committee in a special meeting Friday, Aug. 18.
The schedule for Cole Middle School was only made public on Friday, in the Superintendent’s Memo, including notice of a 1:25 p.m. dismissal on Wednesdays. That detail, released so soon before the start of the school year, rankled some parents on social media.
“I’m very disappointed right now to be reading about a change in school times from a Facebook post only a week and a half before the beginning of the new school year. Why did the district not send out a letter to middle and high school parents?” wrote one parent over the weekend.
“I’m sorry but how is it that a week before school starts this is not known among the parents? How are those who have to work supposed to adjust for yet more hours that the kids are out of school AND have a shorter lunch time??? Why does none of this need to be approved or debated? I thought we put all this work into elect school committee officials that were going to be in the know and keep people (parents) in the loop,” wrote another.
Supt. Victor Mercurio acknowledged that the schedule was late this year. After the teachers contract was settled in May, a team of teachers and administrators got to work on the 2017-18 schedule, but that was still a couple of months behind when the team would usually get to work on the following year’s schedule. (Had the contract not settled, Mercurio said, the schedule for this year would be the same as last year.)
One of the goals was to lower class sizes at the middle school, which was accomplished for the “core content areas” like ELA, science, and math. Class sizes had been in the mid to high 20s last year. This year, they will be in the lower 20s.
In order to fit in the mandated instructional time, lunches were shortened from 25 minutes to between 21 and 22 minutes, depending on the day.
At the high school, the only difference is the early dismissal on Wednesdays. In recent years, Wednesdays started later for high school students. Now that time, used by teachers as common planning time, will be shifted to the end of the school day.
“There’s no question it’s a change,” Mercurio said. “What I’m happy about is we were able to maintain teaming. We were able to maintain elective offerings in 6, 7 and 8. Overall, it’s a different schedule then what we previously had but I’m pleased with the work the team did.”
He also praised Cole Principal Alexis Meyer and Asst. Principal Dan Seger for their help in restructuring the schedule, which was done with the help of a consultant.
Mercurio said the job postings for both principal of Eldredge and assistant principal for EGHS remain open. He plans to appoint an acting principal for Eldredge Tuesday (8/22). As for Tim Chace’s former role at EGHS, “If we have candidates and we can move forward this week, we will.”
Needing to fill four administrative positions has been tough.
“It’s not unusual to be down one administrator. To be down as many as we are down … is a challenge to say the very least,” Mercurio said.
The admin team of principals and department heads had been remarkably constant in recent years.
“This will be the first year we have to do introductions on the first day,” Mercurio said.
He said he is holding a “Superintendent’s Meet & Greet” on Monday, Aug. 28, for all the teachers and staff of the district, for first time in several years.
“There have been lots of changes in a very compressed period of time. Our goal is to maintain focus and to make sure we’re continuing to do the good work we’ve been doing,” Mercurio said. “While there have been lots of other things that have been taking place in the community in the last several months and coming off of last year – there was a lot going on last year – I think people need to take a breath. I think hopefully they’ve had the opportunity to refresh and recharge over the summer.”
– Elizabeth F. McNamara