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School Year Off to Strong Start

Enrollment Steady at 600, Open House Sept. 18

By Jann Wiswall

Superintendent Mark Ward briefed the ECS board on back-to-school week at its meeting on Sept. 9, beginning with a construction update on the capital project.

With asbestos abatement complete, demolition of the old gym, chorus rooms, home economics room and other spaces is next on the agenda. Because that work will be loud and potentially disruptive, project managers plan to move to a second shift schedule for a few weeks to confine the worst of the noise to after-school hours.

Ward also reported that enrollment for the year is steady at about 600 students, including those who attend school off site. Roughly 140 students are from “out-of-district.”

The board approved Ward’s recommendation to hire retired teacher Sandra Reed as a “transition trainer” for a few weeks to support newly hired teaching assistant (and daughter-in-law) Heather Reed. Heather will be working with grade 1-3 students to provide math support.

In addition, the board approved the appointment of Melanie VanWicklin as a full-time teacher aide and Richard Ross as a part-time cleaner.

In other business, Ward reported that the school has awarded sale of a bond anticipation note for the capital project to Jefferies, LLC, at an interest cost of 0.68 percent.

He also reported that the board agreed at a special meeting on Aug. 29 to take the state up on its offer to allow ECS to refinance its loan for past renovations of the middle and high school. ECS will save $60-$90,000 on the last six years of that loan; the state will save twice that.

Principals’ Reports

Elementary Principal Connie Poulin said that every year during her opening assembly for each grade, she describes her annual “Principal’s Challenge.” This year’s challenge is for students to be alert for U.S. Armed Services veterans and to make a point to thank them for their service. Children will be introduced to local veterans and will learn how to spot patches, insignia, caps and other identifying symbols.

Poulin also said that the reading celebration has already begun. This year’s theme is “Let’s Make Connections.” The youngest grades will focus on making “text-to-text” connections, e.g. that story reminds me of another story. Middle elementary grades will focus on “text-to-self” connections, e.g. that story reminds me of an experience I had. Older elementary grades will focus on “text-to-world” connections, e.g. that story connects me to other people.

Author and professional storyteller Lorna MacDonald Czarnota will be visiting ECS in September to talk about resilience and overcoming adversity; other special events and incentive programs are planned as well.

Middle/High School Principal Bob Miller reported that “we’re open for business and business is good!” Teachers and support staff were well prepared for first-day confusion related to construction, lockers and other issues. There was no opening day assembly since there is no gym, but an outdoor assembly at the football field is planned.

Training for the new tablet computers provided to advanced sophomores and all juniors is going well, though some initial glitches were discovered and quickly fixed.

Note to parents: The open house for elementary school parents is scheduled for Thursday, September 18 from 6:30-7:30 p.m., followed by the middle/high school parent open house from 7:30-8:30 p.m. 

The next meeting of the ECS school board is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.

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