TOWNSEND — Don’t believe everything you hear about the schools, unless you hear it from the school district officially.
That was the basic message that Dr. Maureen Marshall, superintendent for the North Middlesex Regional School District, had for those in attendance or watching at home during the district’s recent School Committee meeting. It came in response to a number of comments and concerns she and her staff had heard voiced, that programs in the district were rumored to be changing drastically or removed altogether.
“The rumors aren’t true,” Marshall said emphatically at the Monday, Aug. 25 meeting in the auditorium of the North Middlesex Regional High School. Many of the mistaken reports had to do with the state’s Extended Learning Time (ELT) program that the school has been discussing with the state. Despite what many parents had heard, Marshall assured the public that there was no “done deal.”
“Should the school district decide to move forward after the preliminary (planning) grant stage and say to the state, ‘Yes, we’re really interested,’ we will be in a position to do that,” Marshall said.
“Parents aren’t interested in mandated ELT and we’ve forwarded that information to the state,” she continued. “We have nothing formal from the state. We went through the planning process and didn’t get the result the state hoped for.”
She wanted to make it clear that Singapore math was still going to be offered, despite rumors to the contrary.
Marshall also announced that the summer school program had been very successful, giving many students the credits they needed and even leading to diplomas being awarded to a handful who had fallen short during the school year. In addition, she added that the district was looking into a credit recovery program — “probably an online program” — that would give students a chance to make up work during the school year, during school hours.
In other business, the committee announced that Global Oil had been awarded the bid for the district’s oil contract.
Gerry Martin informed the committee that the latest bidding processed had yielded two options, but Global Oil proved to be more financially beneficial to the cash-strapped school system. He also informed the committee that the district would be going out for bids for natural gas on the “15th or 16th” of September.
The oil bid was accepted at a fixed price higher than the district had planned for, at $3.98 per gallon against the budgeted price of $2.90 per gallon, leading Martin to warn the committee it might be a year of “burning a lot of natural gas.” That, he believed, would offset the difference in oil cost for the year so as to keep as close to the budget as possible.
With the rising fuel costs, Dr. Marshall added that the district was investigating new ways to conserve energy and keep heat inside the building as people, including whole classes going to recess in the middle and elementary schools, move in and out.