ORR School Committee Members met Wednesday night to discuss numerous issues, including potential cuts and additions at the middle school and high school for next year, the introduction of a new math curriculum at the high school for next year, and the effectiveness of the use of three schools as shelters during winter storm Nemo.
ORR Junior High principal Kevin Brogioli said that they are considering adding another full-time physical education teacher position at the school. He said that currently, there is only one full-time PE teacher at the school, and that he thinks it’s necessary to add another.
As a result, there would have to be cuts in other areas, and Brogioli suggested that the librarian position at the school be limited to half a day. “It’s tough (to have to cut the librarian’s hours), but it’s a better use of resources,” said Brogioli.
He added that the current physical education assistant position would also be eliminated as a result.
Under the new proposal, the library would operate regularly during the morning hours at the school, and then would be limited in its use, where students could only use the library in the afternoons when teachers bring their classes there.
High school principal Michael Devoll said that the school is looking to add an assistant to the administration position that was cut three years ago.
“We’re looking to restore that position,” said Devoll. “(There is) the lack of administration help (combined) with the heightened sense of security needs—that person could help with that.”
He added that the person who filled that position could help with in-school suspension and monitoring hallways and parking lots before and after school, among other duties. The position would cost the school system approximately $23,000.
Devoll also introduced changes to the math curriculum at the high school. Currently, four years of math is not required at the school, though most colleges require students to have completed four years of high school math and most students do take four years. He added that only five current seniors are not taking a fourth year of math, for one reason or another.
Under the new curriculum, the system would add a second part to the Algebra 2A course, which would allow slower learners to complete Algebra 2A in a manner that is more suitable to their needs.
“We really worry about teaching Algebra 2A in one year,” said Devoll. “We’ll still offer it in one year, but now it’s offered separately to for slower learners. It gives them the option to spread it out over two years.”
Two electives will be added for advanced learners—statistics and finite math. These will be available to students who have completed Algebra 2A and who are seek to further their college preparation.
Devoll added that there is a “parent information night” scheduled for February 28 to answer questions about the new curriculum and to show students how they can get into the courses that they prefer.
Also discussed was the use of three regional schools—ORR, Center School, and Sippican School—as shelters during the recent snowstorm.
Director of Facilities Gene Jones commended his staff for their hard work over the weekend, and he added that help from the National Guard, who brought in 120 cots and blankets to the high school, aided in providing a warm, safe shelter for those whose homes were affected by the storm. Showers and meals were also available to those who sought shelter at ORR.
“It (the shelter at the high school) worked out really well,” said Jones.
Jones also recommended to the committee that the use of the other two schools be limited to warming houses rather than permanent shelters, because they lack the staff and property proper equipment to house multiple people.
“I can’t emphasize that fact that our elementary schools should be used as warming houses and not shelters,” said Jones. “We don’t have the staff.”
Jones added that his staff had monitored all the data regarding what had been used for the emergency so that the government can reimburse them. Because a state of emergency was declared, the schools are entitled to receive compensation.
Superintendent Doug White commended Jones and his staff for their efforts, and spoke about the use of the schools as shelters.
“My job is to provide a shelter to the community, but we did quite a bit more,” said White. “It’s eye opening. This was challenging. It was an amazing effort by all your (Jones’) employees.”
Jones also said that the generators that were used when the schools lost power had been topped off with fuel and were ready for use in case of another emergency.
By Nick Walecka