I hope this letter finds you well and that the summer months have provided the needed relaxation and rejuvenation to prepare your family for an exciting and successful new school year. The last five years have brought a significant number of new initiatives and enhancements to our educational programs that are providing our students access to more opportunities than ever before. This includes offering Spanish-language instruction in the elementary schools, expanded course offerings at the high school, more clubs, sports and extracurricular activities and an effort to provide resources to address the social-emotional needs of our students. This big lift over the past few years has laid a strong foundation for us to build upon with our new Strategic Plan.
This plan, which will guide our work through 2024, was developed through the collaborative efforts of our community and staff. The culmination of this work was the formation of three strategic goals, which offer a fresh and forward-looking approach to the work of the past five years - Cultural Competence, Authentic Learning, and the Whole Child. By concentrating our work in these areas, we are striving to produce empowered students that are adaptable, well-rounded contributors to society. Throughout the school year, we will be sharing further details of the plan through Board of Education work sessions, various engagement opportunities and email and print communications. Your input as we begin this work, and throughout the process, will inform our implementation and shape future action items over the next few years.
Help Us Go Green
As a district we are committing to implement more environmentally friendly practices in our schools. The advocacy of our students on this issue has made it clear that sustainability is a priority for our community and it is important that we do our part. The most visible change toward improved sustainability will be through our food services program. We will no longer be selling or providing single use plastic water bottles or straws on our campuses. Staff, students and visitors are asked to bring their own reusable water bottle and access filtered water from our drinking fountain/bottle fillers and water tanks that will be made available during lunch. Students are strongly urged to put their name on their bottles so they can be returned if they are misplaced. Additionally, we will be using only compostable utensils, plates, and trays in our food service program. These small changes will cause some initial discomfort as we train ourselves on new habits. But the long-term impact will be significant as we model this commitment for our students and do what we can to create a more sustainable future for our planet.
Summer Facilities Work
This summer has begun a transformation
of our District facilities. As you come into the schools in the next few weeks, we hope you will notice a significant amount of fresh paint across all buildings. We are also very pleased to report that the PMHS Main Gym has gotten a much needed facelift. The gyms at Siwanoy and Colonial schools have also gotten spruced up and each will now have air conditioning for the first time. As part of our strategic facilities plan, we will continue to phase in air conditioning to common spaces in the other schools throughout the upcoming school years and summers.
We are working to open up green space for students at Colonial School on the newly acquired property at 314 Pelhamdale Ave. Conversion of the house into office space will begin this fall. We continue to be appreciative to the community for coming out to vote in such strong support for our schools!
After a summer of blasting, chipping, drilling and hauling, we are thrilled to report that site preparation for the new Hutchinson school is substantially complete. The once rocky terrain is now startlingly flat with a cavern ready for the eventual construction of the new double gymnasium. We anticipate the construction of the new school will begin this winter. You may have also noticed that the tennis court and field turfing work are well under way at Glover Complex. We are extremely thankful to our Athletic Department and coaches for their flexibility as we plan to juggle schedules and field space over the course of the upcoming school year. We will continue to coordinate with the town recreation department to provide as much field time as possible to all teams. Renovation work at PMHS/PMS was postponed until next summer in order to secure better bid prices on the project. As a result the District Offices will continue to remain at 18 Franklin Pace for the near future. Finally, the plans for the Prospect Hill expansion are currently being reviewed by the state and we hope to begin that project in the spring.
Please enjoy the last vestiges of the summer months. I look forward to seeing everyone for what proves to be an exciting and productive new school year.
Dr. Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools