HANOVER — Preliminary assessment figures for South Shore Tech indicate that the school will be receiving a $540,719 increase in Chapter 70 aid as a result of having an additional 38 students in the district.
Assessments for Whitman and Hanson will also be lower, according to figures Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey presented to the South Shore Tech Regional School Committee meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
“Hanson’s enrollment went down by a couple of kids,” he said this week. “That’s always an influencing factor. Now, Whitman’s enrollment went up, but their assessment went down. How does that happen?”
That is because the capital budget within the assessment is much lower than last year so towns like Whitman, with higher enrollments, are poised to benefit more.
A certification vote will be taken the next meeting at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 16. Scituate regularly holds its annual Town Meeting in April, and has been joined on that early schedule by other towns such as Abington.
“Assessments can be changed after certification, but they can only go down,” Hickey said.
During the public hearing section of the meeting Jesse McSweeney, chairman of Norwell’s advisory board asked the School Committee why the per-pupil assessment has increased twice in the last three years. He was the only person to ask a question.
Hickey said about 70 percent of the assessment comes from the towns’ minimum local contribution within the state’s Chapter 70 formula, with the other 30 percent coming from apportionment to the member towns through the regional agreement, which is based on a rolling average.
“Per pupil costs absolutely matter when it comes to things like debt, capital and any operating costs that go above the state’s foundation budget,” Hickey said. “It has a direct connection to enrollment.”
Per pupil calculations are done at the end of the process to try to give an across-the-board comparison.
“Oftentimes our towns are interested in seeing how the different towns shake out in terms of per-pupil costs,” he said. “The biggest driver is a town’s ability to pay and the Chapter 70 formula. … It’s an attempt at equity.”
Norwell School Committee member Robert Molla said it was only the third time in his tenure that a Norwell representative has attended a meeting.
Hickey said a large number of families have indicated interest in the rapid test for the omicron variant of COVID-19. More than 180 families and another 100 or so staff members were signed up as of Jan. 26, with one more day left to do so.
Principal Mark Aubrey introduced the members of the school’s HVAC department.
“Putting together a vocational program team is kind of like building a Major League baseball roster,” he said. “You have that wiley veteran, who’s been there a while, who knows the system better than anyone — that’s Mr. Sean Mulkern.”
He described Russ Esau as the really strong free agent and Greg Boudreau as the promising player brought up through the organization.
“They have come together, doing a great job re-looking at the curriculum, redistributing some things, rechanging the order of events and bringing some stuff in,” Aubrey said.
Mulkern said he believes teaching chose him 15 years ago rather than the other way around. His son also attended SST.
“One of the things that intrigued me about the school is how it helped my son change and how his life became better,” he said. When an opportunity for a job at the school came his way, Mulkern said he knew he could teach people as he had done at his job, so he gave teaching at SST a try.
“The amount of progress we have made taking our shop from 15 years ago being a place people were put to becoming a place where people fight to get in and that’s where I wanted to be and that’s where we’re at today,” he said.
Lifelong Abington resident Esau said his son also graduated from SST. He had wanted to work at the school 15 years ago, but there were no staff openings. For 10 years he commuted an hour and a half each way to a job teaching HVAC at the Leominster Center for Technical Education in the Leominster Public School system.
As much as he liked that job and city, when the opportunity to teach at SST came up, he said he felt at home.
“I’m creating a plan and a program that I know works,” Esau said.
Boudreau, “brand-new to teaching” and the school has 30 years’ experience in industry.
“I’m bringing a wide range of industry experience, [and] these two gentlemen are great mentors,” he said, noting that his plumbing experience brings that component to the HVAC program at SST.