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HES ‘wish list’ includes more money for materials

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HARVARD — It didn’t take Harvard Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Banios long to come up with her wish list for the upcoming year’s budget.

“At the absolute minimum, our ‘curriculum materials’ needs to go up to $10,000,” she said.

Banios had originally said $15,000 would be needed to be comfortable instead of the $6,000 recommended by Superintendent Thomas Jefferson.

The line on the budget is called “textbooks” and School Committee member Keith Cheveralls told Banios he understands the public’s perception regarding that particular line item.

“Why would the town give $15,000 for textbooks?” he asked. “I’ve heard Mary Beth use the word ‘materials’ quite often and it seems interchangeable with ‘textbooks.’ I would encourage her to think along those lines when you are presenting your budget to the public.”

Curriculum materials would include everything from construction paper, glue, scissors, pens, pencils and everything in between, not just the books the teachers use in the classroom.

“The teachers don’t use textbooks per se in some of the younger classrooms,” Banios explained. “Some of them use more of a workbook type thing and, well, a bunch of 6 year olds are going to tear out the pages pretty quickly.”

Another item on Banios’ wish list is to have Smart Boards installed in all of the classrooms instead of just some.

Banios gave the example of teachers teaching students about the Electoral College. One class learned about it by reading an article the teacher presented while another classroom was able to see the map of the United States with each state turning red or blue, just like on CNN, Banios said.

“Which classroom do you think is going to remember the Electoral College?” she asked the School Committee. “The classroom that read the article or the classroom that saw it just like on CNN?”

School Committee member Willie Wickman joked that Banios should give the school department’s budget presentation at the annual town meeting via Smart Board.

Banios said the school could also use another tutor, because they ones they have are part-time and have to leave before all of the grades are covered, especially the fifth grade.

Wickman said if the positions are properly explained to the public, the School Department may just get the funding they need.

“We got the override a couple of years ago to fund these positions,” she said. “They bought into the whole story with the understanding it would take a couple of years for this to pay off. Maybe we need to tutor the people.”

The School Committee is at the preliminary stages of building their budget, based on recommendations from Jefferson.

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