Highlights from Monday's Foxborough School Committee Meeting

Parents reading to student program may be expanded.


The Foxborough School Committee met Monday night at the high school's media center.

Here's a brief look at the highlights from the meeting.

The school committee heard from Dr. Arlene Grubert, the special education director, and Kristin Siddle, who started the iCare program at the elementary schools.

The program focuses on introducing children to acceptance through reading and education. The project involves parents reading books to children dealing with subjects such as autism, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifada, Celebral Palsy, blindness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, asthma and epiliepsy. Anyone interested in reading, can contact the elementary school where their children attends.

"Children at every level love to be read to," said Siddle. "(The books) highlight things children might face."

The program might be expanded to the Ahern Middle School at the fifth grade level, according to Grubert.

"I think it's a great program," said superintendent of schools Debbie Spinelli. "It fits in with the things we are doing."

-School committee member Bruce Gardner praised the performance of the high school jazz band during a concert last Tuesday, featuring the Air Force band.

"It was a neat night of jazz," said Gardner.

The school committee thanked the Foxboro Reporter, who sponsored the event.

-Grubert also spoke about the effectiveness of the special needs performance, which is reporting a 92-percent graduation rate and a reduced dependance of sending students outside of the district to be educated.

"We have students here that age 22 might not earn a high school diploma," she said. Spinelli added that counts for the figure not being a 100-percent.

The 92-percent is better than the state target and the actual rate, according to Grubert.

"That includes all students with disabilities," said Spinelli.

By upgrading the special needs program, Grubert said the school is able to save money for the district.

"We have reduced the need for out of school district for placement," she said. "We have the need to send students out of the district.

"That speaks to our effectiveness."

-Kim McDowell spoke about a program that teaches about social thinking and how to react in social situations.

"Social and emotional well-being greatly affects a student," said McDowell.

Spinelli said the program prevents problems down the road.

"This is a wonderful example of how much energy our staff puts into prevention," she said. "It's much easier to teach rather than intervene after wards."

McDowell estimated that there are more than a 100 students on all levels taking part in the program. The numbers are bigger on the elementary level than the high school.

-The schools are projecting a surplus of $68,000 to $69,000 at this point. A warm weather has lowered the fuel cost for the district this year.

"Expenses have been held tight," said school business administrator William F. Yunka.

The committee is holding back with the surplus because of the possiblity of an increase in the special education budget because of educating a student out of the district.

"There is a possible increase in out of town expense," said Yunka.

-The committee also heard an update on the high school renovation project which is expected to have a surplus of $1.4 million. They are looking at other areas to address. Monday, the boys' and girls' locker rooms were looked at for repairing. Both have broken lockers and the girls' locker room is looking for additional toilets. Currently, there is one available.

"Some of the lockers are broken and rusty," said Spinelli. "(A student) could get a serious infection."

-The school committee budget is asking for an additional $65,000 in their budget to fund an elementary math specialist and to expand club programs at the Ahern School.

At this time, the school department has one math specialist and would like to add one more for a cost of $60,000.

"I think it is wonderful that we are adding a math specialist," said Gardner.

The two math specialists would be split between the elementary schools.

"It's a lot better than we have now," said Spinelli.

An additional $5,000 would go to the Ahern School programs.

"It's minor," said Gardner, "but it is important to expanded the clubs."

Spinelli said she and the principals have worked on the budget, understanding the economic times.

"We were OK we were are now," said Spinelli. "We are balancing where we are and where the town is now."


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