Blackstone-Millville Approves School Grade Reconfiguration

The Blackstone-Millville Regional School Committee recently approved a grade reconfiguration for the 2024-2025 school year, a move that will reshape the district’s educational landscape. This reconfiguration will divide the students into three groups: pre-kindergarten through grade three, grades four through seven, and grades eight through twelve. The decision was reached after a review of parent and staff survey responses. This reconfiguration aims to address the challenges posed by the district’s aging facilities, which were built for a student population twice its current size.

The grade reconfiguration is expected to impact staffing, class sizes, and the overall student experience. The superintendent provided clarity on staffing reductions that would affect classroom teachers, non-content teachers, support personnel, administrators, and health staff. The committee worked to dispel misinformation and concerns regarding potential increases in class sizes.

The meeting also touched upon financial considerations, with the superintendent presenting a draft budget for FY 2025 totaling $27,829,275.43, which excludes Charter School sending tuition and school choice sending tuition. Notably, the superintendent raised concerns about the financial implications of another Charter School in the community.

During the public comment section, the President of the Unified Educators Association brought attention to proposed cuts to nursing staff, stressing the potential risks to student safety. The number of student visits to the nurse’s office and the difficulties in finding substitutes were highlighted as areas of concern. The superintendent acknowledged these worries and suggested exploring grant opportunities to address the budgetary constraints.

Additionally, the committee engaged in a discussion about the operating budget for the school system in FY2025. The budget faced a 0.5% reduction from the previous year, a decrease of over $150,000, despite significant revenue loss due to factors such as the expiration of Esser money, reductions in circuit breaker funding, and decreased excess and deficiency funds. The state’s increase in required contributions from the towns for children’s education prompted an examination of the financial burden on taxpayers, with Blackstone’s contribution increasing by about $544,000 and Millville’s by $134,000.

Peter Caruso, the Milville town administrator and chair of the Capital Planning Committee, voiced concerns about Millville’s budget deficit. Following the budget guidance, Millville faced a deficit of $150,000, which would grow to $250,000 with the school system’s requested budget.

The committee reviewed and approved the FY 24-25 District budget. Unanimous approval was given to motions that included adopting the operating budget, applying reimbursements, and assessing amounts to the towns of Blackstone and Millville.

Updates on water quality were also provided. The board of selectmen from Millville updated the committee on measures taken to ensure safe drinking water for the school, including the provision of bottled water and the anticipation of lifting water notices in March, contingent on water testing results. The committee discussed the financial responsibility for water supply and the implications of water quality management in the long term.

Lastly, the meeting covered various community events and facilities updates. Approval was granted for the senior class trip to Brownstone Adventure Park and a field trip request to Mystic Aquarium for fourth graders. The committee discussed the upcoming District of One Event, a community celebration, and other events such as fundraisers and a pancake breakfast.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Jason Defalco
School Board Officials:
Erin P. Vinacco, Tara Larkin, Ted Novio, Keri Gaudette, Charles Dunton, Daniel Keefe, Tara Shouboe, Matthew Catalano

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