HANOVER — Brevity was the name of the game at the South Shore School Committee, meeting in the Brass Lantern Restaurant at the school on Wednesday, Feb. 16 as the FY 2023 budget was certified and a new mask policy was adopted.
“We’ve got a lot of little nuggets we’re going to talk about tonight, no big boulders,” Principal Mark Aubrey said, reporting that the school has started to return to a “little bit of normalcy.”
The Committee voted to certify a fiscal 2023 budget of $14,944,722. The assessment for Whitman would be $1,636,552 and Hanson’s would be $1,182,596.
The complete budget document is available on the school’s website www.southshore.tech.
Committee members also approved a revised face covering policy, suspending the normal two-month approval policy.
“As you know, the state has lifted the mask mandate, effective Feb. 28,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey. “We have a policy on the books … which we voted on — it feels like a thousand years ago — back in August 2020. This revised policy would make mask-wearing optional as of Feb. 20, 2022 with the exception of the nurse’s office, school vehicles and individuals returning to school after a positive COVID diagnosis for days six to 10 of their recovery period.”
The policy also provides that, if the federal government removes the requirement for masks on school transport vehicles, the SST policy would automatically revert to an automatic one.
There are 111 students now out in work environments in the co-op program, Aubrey said, including 17 juniors who have only been able to go out within the last week.
“The highest number we’ve ever had as of this date is 89,” he said. “This, I think, is due in part to the team, but also I think we really cut into that cultural change in this building, where the students know they are expected to go out, they know they’re making money, and that’s just what we do here.”
The mission of instilling first-hand preparation for the job market is becoming almost second-nature.
“When you are a junior and a senior, you go out on the job site, you learn about your trade from other people who are doing the work in the trenches,” Aubrey said.
The Credit For Life event is also returning, on Wednesday, April 13 with a twist.
“The students are going to be learning how to talk and relate to other people, maybe while you’re holding a cup of coffee or a croissant, or something like that,” Aubrey said.
All students are eating in the school’s lunchroom at the same time, but desks are available along the sides of the cafeteria for students who still prefer to separate under COVID precautions.
Athletics are also returning to a somewhat normal atmosphere, and there are achievements there that Aubrey reported, including two wrestlers headed for the state tournament in Fitchburg and the girls’ basketball team [14-4] are headed to the tournament. The ice hockey team is also headed to the state tournament for the first time in a decade, he said.
Eighteen of 20 students taking repeat MCAS tests in January passed, with one student needing to pass English and another needing to pass math. There were 17 SST students who did not pass parts of the MCAS exam last year, and did retake exam.
A program has been set up during the school day to provide extra help for students who need it.
Hickey said school representatives have already met virtually with the Abington Finance Committee on Feb. 2 and Scituate’s Select Board on Feb. 15 to review the fiscal 2023 budget.
They will be meeting with Scituate’s Advisory Committee on Feb. 24, Norwell’s Advisory Committee March 15 and Whitman’s Finance Committee on March 22 (in person).