As today marks the first day of school for Duxbury’s public schools, members of the school committee look ahead to higher enrollment, continued construction and a slightly longer year.

 

At the first school committee meeting of the year last Wednesday, superintendent Benedict Tantillo informed members that the district registered 179 new students over the summer who were not enrolled in Duxbury previously, including 38 new full-day kindergarteners and 30 new first graders. Taking into consideration the number of students who graduated in the 2013 class, Dux- bury has gained approximately 80-100 new students this year. When the new co-located middle and high schools open for the 2014-15 school year, the student population will be just slightly above the current pro- jection, Tantillo said.

Tantillo also discussed the new athletic building, which was handed over to the schools last week for use by all athletic groups. John Heinstadt, school committee member, said the building will be dedicated to Lt. Timothy Steele, a 2004 Duxbury High School graduate and a 2009 West Point Military Academy graduate who was killed in action in 2011. The dedication will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.

With the opening of the new field house, Tantillo said a contest will be held for students to design a new, official dragon logo that will be used across the district.

“It seems like a good time to get a uniform logo because there are several different dragons flying around the district,” he said. “Various dragons are on the gym floors, stationary and uniforms. We will have judges for the entries and the contest will be announced for students at the start of school.”

The school committee also welcomed new assistant superintendent Laurie Hunter to the meeting. Hunter said she has been working with the principals, teachers and new staff throughout the summer and is excited for the new year to begin.

“I am way ahead of where I though I’d be going into the school year, which is an exciting place to be,” she said. “Discussions have quickly morphed into plans.”

Hunter’s primary plan is to set up an official district-wide curriculum committee composed of principals, supervisors, teachers, parents, high school students and one school committee member.

“Our goals include oversight of curriculum development, constant updates and textbook adoption, among others,” Hunter said. “I’d like to get a formal structure in place to address the curriculum across grades and ages so the right and left hands know what each other is doing.”

Anne Ward, school committee chairwoman, went over committee goals for the year, which include better communication, organizing moving into the new building and better clarifying the committee’s goals and responsibilities for parents.

“These are the areas that, during our self-evaluation last year, had lower scores than we would like,” Ward said. “This year we will work to improve professional development opportunities, decision making modes, sharing of information and monitoring the strategic plan.”

The school committee also received a business update from Susan Nauman, busi- ness manager. Nauman said a significant amount of building maintenance occurred over the summer. Seventeen classrooms were painted at Chandler and seven at Alden, as well as the nurse’s office, gym bathrooms and outside trim at Alden. HVAC units were also replaced through the preventative maintenance program.

“We’ve been managing a lot more projects than we are used to during the summer,” she said. “But we’ve covered all our bases.”

Over the summer the Performing Arts Center experienced more minor flooding during June storms. Nauman said the construction at the new building prevented the PAC from being fixed at that point, but now that the buildings have been connected there should be no more water issues. Additionally, the Chandler gym floor has now been completed and the masonry will soon begin on the PAC.

Nauman said the new bus policy – a three-tiered registration plan – was successful and resulted in more students signing up for bus transportation. By June 30, the first deadline with the lowest registration fee, 488 more students registered for buses than at the same point in 2012. Overall, the policy resulted in an increase of $74,000 by June 30.