By SHERIDAN CYR
The Board of Education held their first meeting of the school year on Thursday, Sept. 14 stressing optimism and a positive outlook on the 2017-18 school year.
Science curriculum coordinator John Duffy was happy to announce that with great help from the community, all eight elementary schools now have raised garden beds. Prior to this spring, only three schools had gardens. The gardens will be part of the curriculum for students.
For their assistance with the garden project, four organizations were given certificates for Celebration of Excellence: Lowe’s, Camp R.I.S.E., the Orchard Valley Garden Club, and Lewis Educational Agriculture Farm (L.E.A.F.) executive director Mark Ramsay.
Duffy thanked Lowe’s store manager Patrick Roy for his essential part in the gardens being built this summer. Duffy said that when he approached Roy with a request to help build just one additional garden, Roy offered to do all five.
“Patrick took the project and just ran with it,” said Duffy. Roy and a team of volunteers from the Southington store, visited the schools weekly over the summer to build the gardens with school community volunteers.
Patricia Queen and Zaya Oshana updated the Southington Middle School Athletics Association’s plan for continuing an athletic program after recent budget cuts. The SMSAA has been working with the BOE refining details for fees and fundraising.
Queen explained that it costs around $21,000 to pay coaches of middle school sports, and around $14,000 for fees such as transportation, equipment, and other items involved in maintaining the sports programs.
Queen presented a suggested activity fee of $100 per student, regardless of the number of sports they play. That paired with $25,000 raised by the SMSAA would fund middle school sports.
After some back-and-forth, Chair Brian Goralski suggested that a more in depth discussion should take place as an agenda item in the next BOE meeting since the item was not on the agenda for the Thursday meeting.
Superintendent of schools Timothy Connellan said that he was impressed with the ease of the first day of school this year. “I will say that I thought it was a very, very successful opening, and a very smooth operation,” he said. He thanked teachers and administration for their efforts.
Assistant superintendent Steven Madancy echoed Connellan’s remarks. “I have to give all the building administrators credit,” he said. “It’s a tremendous undertaking getting all staff on board and calibrated for students entering day one.”
Director of Operations Peter Romano reported that over 300 work tickets were completed across all 12 Southington schools over the summer. Workers added a card entry access system, a new phone voiceover system at the high school, and relocated of the main entrance at Derynoski School with all of the doors rekeyed to a grandmaster system. Also, several renovations to classrooms and offices were completed.
“Our maintenance group was extremely productive over the summer months,” said Romano. “This is a really tremendous group.”
Summer school director David Stefano also reported a highly successful 2017 summer dnrichment program. Stefano thanked Southington Community Services for providing over $2,900 to the program this year.
Stefano reported that a record number of programs were offered this summer. A slideshow of photos showed students in cooking programs, woodworking, programming computers, and working in the newly built outdoor gardens.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.
Photos by SHERIDAN CYR