By Mike Melanson
The Whitman-Hanson Regional School Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 10 voted to present two articles to voters at Hanson Special Town Meeting on Oct. 6: One that would repair the Indian Head School roof, and another that would replace it. Each article authorizes spending as much as $850,000 to do the work. Town Meeting voters will be asked to consider both articles at the same time, in order to discuss both options, town and school officers said.
Hanson Town Administrator Ronald San Angelo said requests from all town departments are subject to funding and state Department of Revenue certification of the town’s free cash figure.
Selectmen are looking into what can be funded by free cash or rolled into a capital exclusion override. The board might have to re-prioritize and change their recommendations on articles, San Angelo said.
“At this point, we don’t know what free cash is going to be,” he said.
School Committee Chairman Robert Hayes complimented the work of the facilities and capital projects subcommittee of the regional school committee, and the town Indian Head and Maquan school priority repair committee, which met Wednesday for 90 minutes before the regional school committee meeting.
Hayes said the district and town are going through untested waters, but seem to be heading in the same direction.
“It’s wonderful to see everyone on the same page,” he said.
Hanson Selectman Bruce Young, who chairs town priority repair committee, said he hopes they all make it.
However, it might be like the sign at the entrance to the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean ride says, “Ahoy matey, there’s rough waters ahead,” Young said.
The School Committee also voted to present an article requesting spending as much as $200,000 to repair or replace window lintels at the Indian Head School.
The committee voted to recommend passing over a request for $55,000 to install an indoor ventilator at the Maquan School, and do more air quality testing in the winter.
The committee voted to present an article to fund the development of public bid documentation for the Indian Head School repairs.
The committee voted to recommend passing over a request to fund the repair or replacement of the cafeteria floor and office carpets at the Indian Head School, as the work has been done.
In other business, School Superintendent Ruth Gilbert-Whitner presented her self-assessment and goals, part of an annual evaluation process set forth by the state education department.
Gilbert-Whitner said the regional school district did not have to lay off one teacher this year, the first time in her term as superintendent.
However, the district is still seventh from the bottom on a state list of per pupil expenditures, she said.
Gilbert-Whitner said Whitman-Hanson has some first grade classrooms with 25 students. The district needs six additional teachers to address big class sizes, which would require an additional $300,000 to $400,000 in funding, she said.
Gilbert-Whitner said eight Whitman-Hanson managers trained in the ALICE (Alert, Lock down, Inform, Counter and Evacuate) safety protocol, which offers more options if there is an active shooter or crisis than simply sheltering in place.
She said the school district is upgrading the school website, which will launch in the middle of the school year.
Gilbert-Whitner said her goals include looking at the effective use of student data to determine if schoolchildren are getting the education they need.
She said she plans to develop a human resources department, revise the crisis management and safe schools plan, review the progress made under a five-year strategic plan as it completes its fifth year this year, and develop a new five-year strategic plan by the opening of school in fall 2015.
The School Committee voted to allow the Whitman Mothers Club to sell tickets for a gala benefit at upcoming football games.
Beth Stafford, a sixth-grade teacher and past president of the Whitman Mothers Club, said the club is celebrating its 70th anniversary at Whitman Town Hall on Oct. 18 from 7 to 11 p.m.
Tickets cost $25 per person.
The Whitman Mothers Club gives money for scholarships, PCC, PACs, the library, food bank and toy drive, Stafford said.
New job description
The School Committee voted to revamp the job description for the assistant superintendent for district operations to one for an assistant superintendent for human resources or executive director of human resources.
Assistant Superintendent of District Operations Craig Finley is leaving the school district to pursue a consulting opportunity in the private sector.
Gilbert-Whitner said she recommending changing the position from district operations to human resources because there is a need there.
The school district processes 900 W-2 tax forms a year, she said.
Gilbert-Whitner said the position’s responsibilities would include personnel, labor relations, staff development, budgets and salaries, and community involvement.
She said she would prefer an assistant superintendent because of the educational background, but would also hire an executive director in order to draw a wider net of candidates. The difference of titles is based on licenses and certifications required the state, she said.
Gilbert-Whitner said the district would post the opportunity, but the position could not be filled until after Jan. 1.
The salary range would be from around $100,000 to $125,000, she said.