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By Jon Bishop

jbishop@nashobapub.com

HARVARD — Much of the talk at Monday night’s School Committee meeting was about the future: Superintendent Linda Dwight offered updates on her entry plan and her recent trip to Burlington Public Schools; the committee discussed school choice and enrollment numbers, as well as the calendar.

Dwight said that she and some Bromfield staff went to Burlington High School and learned about how Burlington Public Schools utilizes technology in the classroom. The district implemented iPad use in all grade levels — kindergarten through 12th grade — four years ago, she said.

“It was a really great experience,” she said.

Technology “was just a part of their business” and they all used it seamlessly.

“It was a wonderful way to see how a tool could be used,” she said. “The students became the experts.

One of her biggest takeaways was that changing practice was the hardest part of doing anything, Dwight said.

For her entry plan, she’s been meeting with various “stakeholders across the district” since the summer, she said. She found interesting to meet people who don’t have a direct connection to the schools but who hold political positions.

She has also been reviewing student achievement and financial data, visiting schools and classrooms, and meeting with district leaders, who, since Harvard is so small, are teachers.

She said she’ll most likely complete the fact-finding and information-gathering portion of the entry plan by January.

Dwight was already somewhat familiar with the district. Before becoming Superintendent, she served as Principal of the Hildreth Elementary School.

Regarding the calendar, School Committee Chairman SusanMary Redinger said that it should be maximized for student achievement and for the effective use of student resources. She mentioned the streamlining of vacations, professional development days — “little things we can do to make the calendar perhaps better.”

The proposed subcommittee tasked with examining the calendar would likely consist of her, Jennifer Bedford, a student, a parent, a teacher, and an administrator.

Dwight said that she would work on getting members and then vet them with Redinger and Bedford.

According to the sheet included in the packet, Harvard, in the 2014 – 2015 school year, has 433 students at Hildreth, 44 of whom are Devens students and 21 of whom are from other districts, and 711 at the Bromfield, 34 of whom are from Devens and 49 of whom are from other districts. Five school choice seniors will leave the district in June, the sheet said.

In fiscal 2014, there was a school choice offset of $385,000 for 77 students, a total of $5,000 per student.

On the K-Wing of the Hildreth, Dwight said that she and Redinger attended the Nov. 18 Board of Health meeting, where they learned that members confirmed their review of the air quality reports and thus feel that the school has been adequately remediated of air quality issues. They also confirmed the existence of mold. According to Redinger, the mold qualifies as a hazard, but there is currently no risk to the school population, as the air is breathable. The School Committee recently drafted a statement of interest calling for either the reconstruction or the rebuilding of the K-Wing. The Board of Selectmen will likely take a vote on it on Dec. 2.

According to Dwight, maintenance and other staff members have, since 2005, been unable to breach the floors or the walls, due to the mold issues, and, because of this, conditions have deteriorated over the past 14 years, making reconstruction or renovation critical.

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