HANOVER — Supply chain issues are delaying the replacement of exterior windows in the 1992 wing of South Shore Tech until spring, its School Committee was told at the Wednesday, Oct. 20 meeting.
“We are not immune to these issues,” Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey said, adding that the delay would not involve any additional cost to the school. “The contractor will continue to work on the premise that they’ll do the work on the second shift or it won’t involve the displacement of students, but they can’t install what they don’t have.”
Hickey also reported that the school is beginning to work with engineering firm DRA and the district’s project manager regarding two projects that would lead to some construction being done next summer, if they stay on SST’s desired schedule.
Those projects are replacement of the roof on the 1992 wing and a the use of a portion of funds from the recent debt authorization approval to add some square footage.
The Capital Projects Subcommittee will hopefully begin meeting with a DRA representative by the end of October, but certainly before the committee’s mid-November meeting to hear a report on some “potential ideas,” Hickey said.
“We’ve talked for years about a lot of ‘what-ifs’ and we have operated under the premise that we’ve got to move some things around in order to make certain footprints better,” he said. He said the project would not only add space, but would also reorganize some existing space at the school.
One example would be the consolidation of automotive programs in order to allow them to share one space instead of two. The HVAC program could be moved to a slightly larger space and horticulture could be moved closer to a bay where it could access the use of some heavy equipment.
“We would expand the space of our electrical program, which consistently, we are unable to satisfy the annual needs of the students who want it,” he said.
The engineers would be assessing what the cost of the expansion project would be.
The construction, seen as the first step in the project, would likely be done in summer 2022, with students “to the greatest extent possible,” do the interior work during the 2022-23 school year, according to Hickey.
He said that an estimate within the debt service portion of the budget, should be ready for examination in December.
The MSBA recommendation process has also been delayed because of COVID.
“We already have the funds available to engage feasibility … just give us the [MSBA] invitation and we’ll jump into the HOV lane for the MSBA and move this forward,” he said. “Hopefully, the seventh time’s the charm.”
In other business, three parents spoke during the Public Comment period regarding questions and concern about mask and potential vaccine mandates regarding COVID-19. The questions included whether the school could or would challenge state mandates and how students were disciplined for improper mask wearing. The Committee does not respond to issues raised during public comment because they may not be reflected in the posted agenda.
Hickey did say the school is reporting to parents about the status of active COVID cases on a weekly basis. As of, Oct. 20, there were no active cases among the school population.
Hickey reported that the entire school population — including students, staff, and coaches, both on and outside of faculty — vaccination rate is at 60.5 percent. Students are vaccinated at a rate of 55 percent and faculty and staff is about 80 percent, when calculated separately.
The current state guideline for concluding a mask requirement is 80 percent of school population, but local communities could decide to retain the mask back to the optional/strongly recommended level even at that point.
“We have to see what the guidance is,” Hickey said. “If [DESE] removes the mask mandate, then it becomes a local matter.”
The school’s MCAS results reflected the reduced number on in-school instruction days, Principal Mark Aubrey said in his report to the School Committee.
“They also reflect the year before, when they were not in school for three months,” he said. “Overall the students and staff did an incredible job. Do we have places we need to work on? Of course we do, we would never say we don’t.”
Just under 80 percent of students received a score of advanced or proficient in science, which is what the state requires, 17 percent need improvement and a small percentage (six students total) did not make the grade yet, according to Aubrey. There were 163 freshmen, 162 sophomores and 23 juniors taking the exams (for Adams scholarships).
In English, 15 percent of sophomores and juniors exceeded and 60 percent met state goals, with 2 percent not passing. Math scores showed the need for teacher/student interaction, Aubrey said.
Teachers are made available to help students who need remediation on the subjects they did not pass.
Assistant Principal Sandra Baldner reported that the Allied Health program has received a $2506,000 skills capital grant, which will fund a doctor’s office, industry standard oil immersion microscopes, AEDs and CPR mannequins. A $100,000 Mass Life Sciences grant will allow construction of a biotech lab inside a classroom space.