Chatham school board plans for an earful

CHATHAM–The school board discussed the district’s facilities study timeline at last week’s board meeting and learned that board member James Cartin announced that he is resigning from the Chatham Board of Education.

Mr. Cartin’s resignation is not related to the study. He made the statement at the end of the meeting, saying he had submitted his resignation to the board because he is moving out of the area. “It’s been a pleasure to serve on the board,” said Mr. Cartin. “I hope someone that steps forward to seek my position will focus on the students, to allow them to reach high expectations in a disciplined environment.”

The November 27 meeting began with a presentation by Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo which laid out the timeline for the facilities study. Due to a variety of reasons including financial pressures and declining enrollment, the district has been exploring the option of closing the middle school building on Woodbridge Avenue and consolidating students into the elementary and high school buildings.

There will be four more public, town-hall-style information sessions before a decision is made by the board whether to close the building.

The board plans to make its decision at its June 25, 2013 regular meeting.

Each of the town-hall meetings leading up to the decision will focus on a different topic so that specific issues can be discussed in depth. The first of these will take place January 3 and will address the financial situation and the program context. On February 26 the discussion topic will be the program for grades 7 to 12; on March 26 there discussion of what capital construction might be needed if the schools are consolidated. A final town-hall-style meeting will take place June 4 to offer an overview that summarizes what has been discussed to that point.

Throughout the course of these meetings there will also be focus groups meeting to ask questions and provide input about the process. The members of the focus groups will represent four different categories of people in the district: parents, students, teachers, and community members. These meetings will be led by an outside facilitator, and school officials expect each group will have from 10 to 20 participants.

“The idea is to have a group that’s small enough to have a meaningful conversation,” said Ms. Nuciforo, “but large enough to represent various issues.”

More information regarding the facilities study and possible middle school closure option can be found at http://chathamcentralschools.com/Facilities_Study/index.asp.

Also at last week’s board meeting:

*Victor Churchill of the audit firm Sickler, Torchia, Allen & Churchill, reviewed the highlights of the independent audit his firm conducted for the district’s fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012. He said that everything received a clean and unqualified opinion.

“These are all positive things,” said Mr. Churchill, adding, “Nothing was found to say that those financial statements were not fairly stated.”

*The board adopted the calendar for the 2013-14 budget. The projected date for the board to adopt a proposed budget will be April 16, with the budget hearing scheduled for May 14 , a week before the annual budget vote May 21.

 

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