Sowams School Principal Jim Callahan stood before the school committee on Thursday night, Jan. 3, and offered a few specific budget requests as officials begin planning for the next fiscal year.
Mr. Callahan said Sowams School’s top priority was preparing for the full implementation of the Common Core, a set of standards that will be used by public schools across the country. And he said he was also concerned with staffing.
Mr. Callahan said Sowams will need four second grade teachers next year — the school has three currently. Mr. Callahan said this year’s first grade classrooms are crowded; there are two classes with 25 students each and a third with 26 students.
“We’re looking at adding a second grade classroom,” Mr. Callahan told members of the school committee.
Meanwhile, Nayatt Principal Tracey Whitehead said she was anticipating a drop-off in student population next year. She said her third grade population would likely drop by about 20 students.
All three elementary school principals — Mr. Callahan, Ms. Whitehead and Hampden Meadows School’s Tracey McGee — said their top concerns were for the implementation of the Common Core, although it was difficult for them to specify how much money would be needed to help with the process.
Barrington Middle School Principal Andrew Anderson and BHS Principal Joe Hurley reiterated the focus on the Common Core, and also offered specific personnel needs.
Mr. Anderson said the school will need to add an eighth grade teacher next year (the seventh grade class is a large one, reportedly) and also would like to hire a math specialist. He said the math specialist would assist with direct instruction to students and also help teachers with the delivery of their instruction.
Mr. Hurley thanked the district’s finance director Ron Tarro for some of the early work he had helped with and added the need to focus on the Common Core.
“Common Core is driving much of what we’re looking at with English language arts and math,” he said.
Mr. Hurley said the high school has already advertised the hiring of a part-time math specialist and would like to see that increased to a full-time position in the next fiscal year.
School officials will take these requests into consideration as the prepare a full school budget in the next few months. The town’s committee on appropriations will review the school budget and could recommend changes prior to a final vote at the financial town meeting in May.