HANOVER — The South Shore Tech Regional School Committee on Wednesday, May 20, saluted school staff members who have worked to produce personal protective equipment for hospitals and first responders as well as students.
Cohassett member George Cooney did not join in the conference call.
Engineering instructor Jerry Shaw, paraprofessional Lisa Bellontoni, and community liaison Paul Bello were lauded for their work in making 3,000 PPE face shields over the past two months.
“They have given up their own time to come into school to make PPE,” said Principal Mark Aubrey. “They are winding down, but we’ve been able to supply, just on the backs of these people, from fire departments to hospitals all over the South Shore. … We’ve been able to give and give and give and it’s been great.”
Aubrey said the school wanted to recognize the time they’ve given up and their expertise.
Paraprofessional and support staff member Rachel Haynes was also lauded for her efforts to support teachers in virtual classrooms and working with students in small-group hangouts online.
“She has gone as far as to copy work and mail it to the students so that they have the work that they need to complete their [assignments],” Aubrey said.
Guidance Counselor Todd has also been a key to supporting students during remote learning, according to Aubrey.
“He’s really the conduit between the families, the students and the teacher, and he’s doing a great job,” Aubrey said. “He has a very difficult job — he’s never going to make everybody happy, but that’s not his job. His job is to do what’s best for the kid and he understands that.”
Zahurak has also been instrumental in improving the number of students participating in the school’s breakfast program.
Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner also lauded teachers and staff for creating the new normal for the school’s operations during the pandemic.
She also praised the district’s paraprofessionals.
“They have been extraordinary in supporting our teachers and have done an amazing job supporting students,” she said.
She also reported that the culinary department transformed the perishable food items left in the kitchen at the close of the school building in March into 500 meals for Abington and Norwell councils on aging and the Marshfield Boys and Girls Club.
“Our parents have been allies in this as well,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey. “It’s really about old-school communication and outreach … combined with the latest technology in an attempt to reach kids.”
The school loaned out about 150 devices and will make the purchase of more a goal with the federal CARES funds.
The state has not yet issued guidelines for reopening school in the fall, but Hickey said sufficient PPE supplies will be a focus as well as plans for trade instruction that requires hands-on work by students.
Graduation has been scheduled to 10 a.m., Saturday, June 27. But prom has not yet been decided, but Aubrey said he should have more information about it in two weeks.
“We’re hoping the South Shore Music Circus will be the venue and we will prepare as normal a graduation as possible,” said Hickey. An online recognition of the senior class will be held on Friday, June 5.
A virtual welcome for rising freshmen is also being planned for eighth-graders attending the school next year later this month. June 12 is the last official day of the school year.
The committee held its annual hearing on school choice, voted against participating in the school choice program because the district has an established process of admitting students who do not reside in the district.
Regarding the fiscal 2021 school budget, Hickey said the district’s original budget, which was based on the governor’s budget numbers, may look different when the House Ways & Means numbers come out by July 1.
“We’ve generally been able to count on Chapter 70 money not being less but, at this point nobody’s been able to say that with confidence,” he said. “It will be a very unusual summer, financially.”
The district is preparing a template for a 1/12 budget to hedge against potential problems at the town meeting level. It takes six affirmative town meeting votes to confirm a budget. Some communities have town meeting set for June, but Hanson has delayed its Town meeting until July 20. Whitman’s will be June 22. Other communities have not set dates at all.
“I am not immediately concerned with a 1/12 budget, as it might take us through the summer,” Hickey said. The budget can be reassessed when the Ways & Means numbers are released, giving towns the ability to set town meetings and enact their plans.