Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Principal Notes

Principal Notes

Another snow day! I, like our students, await the news in the morning to see if the town of Reading is listed on the scroll at the bottom of the news cast indicating that there will in fact be no-school due to snow. I don’t know if there are more places in Massachusetts listing their closures, but it certainly feels like there are a lot of schools and it takes a long time to get to the R’s. Most times I get “the call” with the automated Connect Ed message from Dr. Doherty and my first response is “…Yes! A day off; a day to catch up on work; a day to do all of the things I have yet to get to.” Maybe a great opportunity to write Principal Notes…

Student Behavior/Health and Wellness

In an effort to keep parents informed and most importantly to keep students safe, I need to report that there continues to be incidents and reports of alcohol use at the middle level. This includes students in grades six through eight. Students have reported that they have been able to get alcohol at home without their parent’s knowledge or from older siblings. These incidents have been few, but are more than enough for us to be concerned about student safety. Our intent is not to alarm or catch students doing things wrong. To the contrary, our goal is to teach kids to have confidence and to make good decisions when confronted with information or situations that involve alcohol. I include this information in our newsletter and blog in the hope that you would take some time to talk to your children about what they are seeing and hearing about alcohol.

The administration and the guidance staff are working with Erica McNamara, Director of the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) and Tom Zaya, the Head of Health and Wellness at the high school to plan a presentation for Parker students about alcohol awareness. More information will be sent out when the event is scheduled. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Cathy O’ Connell or me at 781.944.1236. Thank you for your help with this issue!

Student Update

On Thursday, January 6th we welcomed six students to Parker Middle School from South Korea. The students are part of a Korean Exchange Program and are staying with host families in Reading and will be here until January 26th. This has been a great experience for our guests and for our students here as well. The students, seventh graders, Min Jeong Kim, Soo Bin Kim, Young Bin Kim and eighth graders Sae Hyun Lee, Hyun Ki Kim and Min Kyung Im have had full schedules, participating in classes here as well as traveling and visiting Colleges and Universities in and around Boston.

Eighth grader and student leader, Jenna Choi who was born in Seoul Korea, has been instrumental in welcoming our guests; translating when necessary and helping them negotiate and figure out their new school schedules. In a lunch to welcome the students to Parker, the students from Korea talked with Parker students about the differences in their school schedules at home compared to here in the U.S. A few of our eighth graders were amazed at the amount of time that students in Korea spend leaning and studying. Our students are learning as much from this exchange as our guests!

We would like to especially thank Parker Host Families Mr. and Mrs. Miller, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, and Mr. and Mrs. Friedmann. Without you participating in this program we would not have been able to welcome and learn from these extraordinary young students from Korea. Thank you!

Exchange Update: On February 7th, we welcome seven students from China who will be spending a week with us as well.

Budget Update reported by Parker Budget Parent Sarah Fennelly

The Budget Process is well underway. The Superintendent’s FY 12 Recommended Budget was presented to School Committee on Monday, January 10th. Dr. Doherty and the Director of Finance and Operations, Mary Delai have worked tirelessly meeting with administrators, teachers and stake holders in the community to develop three budget options or proposals for the School Committee to consider. The options are a “Level Services Budget”, a “Level Funded Budget” and a 0.5% reduced budget that the town Finance Committee has suggested all departments consider.

The “Level Services Budget” proposal would require an increase of 2.7% over the FY 11 Budget (or just over one million dollars). A “Level Funded Budget” proposal means appropriating the same amount for FY 12 that was provided in FY 11. In the past two years, the RPS essentially had level funded budgets, resulting in a variety of cuts and decreases, increases in certain fees and elimination of the equivalent of 28 full-time positions. The federal stimulus money helped reduce the impact, but the funding is ending. A level funded budget for FY2012 would mean an additional $1,000,000 in cuts. The proposed cuts are as follows:

Changes to Achieve Level Funded Budget:

Increase Offsets $125,000

Reduce School Supply and Material Budgets $100,000

Eliminate 1.5 Support Staff Positions $50,000

Reduce Administrator Salaries $20,000

Eliminate After School Fitness Center Program $20,000

Reduce Salary Increases $685,000
Total $1,000,000

To meet the towns requested -0.5% budget, RPS would need to cut an additional $385,000 proposed as follows:

Eliminate K-8 Instructional Specialist $50,000.00

Reduce athletic expenses or increase user fees $40,000.00
Eliminate 6.3 FTE support staff positions* $120,000.00
Eliminate 3.7 FTE teaching positions** $175,000.00
Total $385,000.00

*obtained most likely by reducing hours rather than individual positions
**to be determined, more likely to occur at elementary gr. 3-5 and high school course sections

The remaining meetings are as follows: January 20, January 24 (Public Hearing), January 26 (Financial Forum-Senior Center), January 31 (Final Vote). All SC meetings will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the conference room at Central Office. The Financial Forum is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at the Senior Center. The SC meetings are broadcast live on RCTV’s educational channel, Comcast 10, Verizon 32. If you would like to have your concerns heard, please try and plan on attending one of these meetings as they are open to the public. The complete budget can be found on-line at the district Edline page at:

We would like to thank the Parker Budget Parents, Sarah Fennelly, Kelly Bedingfield, Priscilla Hollenbeck and Tom Loughlin for volunteering and especially for keeping Parker Parents, the PTO and School Council up to date on the budget process. Thank you!

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