South Hadley School Committee Notebook – Feb. 28

by Town Reminder

By Matthew Couto
Turley Publications Correspondent

Middle school to receive E-Readers

SOUTH HADLEY – The School Committee accepted a proposal from the local business E-Ink to purchase up to 300 E-Readers for teacher and student use in grades 5 and 7 at Michael E. Smith Middle School. E-Ink has met with teachers from these classes to see which books they would like to be loaded onto the E-Readers.
Principal Erica Faginski-Stark of Michael E. Smith Middle School, Plains Elementary School Principal Jill Flanders and Brian Bigler from E-Ink were all present at the meeting Tuesday night to help explain the E-Reader benefits.
“All of the content that will be on the E-Readers will stay on it until even after the one year contract is up,” said Bigler. “As long as you keep the online digital library going, you will be able to keep all the titles.”
If a student loses their E-Reader, additional ones will be provided in the library to borrow until another is provided to the student.
“We don’t have a textbook contract but we are looking to see if it would be able to preload the E-Readers with additional research for the titles that they are reading,” said Flanders. “This will allow the students to have all the information they need right in their hands.”
E-Ink will also provide a study on the use of E-Readers by conducting a pre- and a post assessment online survey of students, parents and educators involved in the program. The School Committee was very enthusiastic in their unanimous approval of the proposal.

Special Education and English Language Learners budget changes

Dr. Joyce Butler was present at the meeting to explain some of the budget changes to the South Hadley Public Schools.
“We have had a stable population of ESL students now throughout our pubic schools,” said Butler. “There are 23 students that have been receiving tutoring.”
What Butler and her staff proposed was to remove the program’s tutoring and replace it with an ESL teacher that will be able to consistently work with students on a individual level and group level. Since students sometimes move from building to building, therapeutic services often drop in one building and rise in another. Having a teacher would allow for students at different schools to take advantage of the help.
A seventh-grade student from Michael E. Smith Middle School showed off her vantage reader at the meeting, which allows her to easily communicate for academic purposes and with her peers, to the school committee and the audience present at the meeting. With the press of a button, she is able to say what she wants and in the way she wanted.
“To watch these students be fully included and integrated into their classrooms and school culture, they are not seen as any different than the other students,” said Butler. “They are just differently able.”

High, middle schools roofs need repair

The roof of the high school has been repaired at different times since it was installed in 1997. The section of the roof that is currently experiencing leaks is the tar and gravel roof. If it was to be replaced, 82,000 square feet of roof would have to be replaced and it would cost between $1 million and $1.5 million dollars. Although it is possible to repair the roof in sections, the overall cost will end up being higher than if it was all done at one time.
The middle school roof was completely replaced in 2000 and has a 15-year warranty. However, most of the claims the school department has made concerning the roof has been denied because the warranty only covers defects in the roofing system.
Since the roof is already 12 years old, there must be a decision to either pursue legal action or pay for a new roof that would cost up to $1.5 million dollars.
Roy Brown of Roy Brown Architects sent a letter to Candice Walczak, Business Administrator for South Hadley Public Schools, explaining that the best way to come up with defensible material for legal action is “to take some roof cuts, to get some moisture scans, and to assess the load carrying capacity of the roofs.”
Brown stated the construction budget should be around $1,300,000 and the design and oversight budget would be $97,000. This money would go toward repairing the leaky roofs and lay down some new areas of roofing.

Town proposes creation of town-wide Facility Director

The town of South Hadley is looking to bring in someone that can oversee the maintenance of all 12 town buildings, prepares bid specs, and contracts, oversee preventative maintenance plans, contractors, and oversee capital projects.
The goal of this position is to consolidate all of these facilities work under one person with the right education. The four members of the school committee present at the meeting decided to wait on more information on the position and to see if any positions are going to be lost in the change.