New elementary school to open on time and under budget
By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer
Marlborough—School Superintendent Michael Bergeron and his administrative leaders presented a redistricting plan for grades K – 5 for the fall at the April 14 virtual School Committee meeting. There were no questions from the public during the call-in public participation portion of the meeting. The School Committee will vote on the plan at its April 28 meeting.
Bergeron said they received a temporary occupancy permit from inspectors on April 7 for the new $54 million elementary school and the project came in “on time and under budget.” Landscaping construction is continuing now as planned and the school is ready for the next school year.
Over the past three months, Bergeron has been presenting the redistricting plan to each elementary school Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). After taking into consideration additional feedback from those meetings and from faculty and staff, the final plan was presented to the School Committee April 14.
Bergeron said discussion is continuing, as a result of parents’ concerns about “timing and availability of childcare and an earlier start time at the new school.” He has reached out to the Boys & Girls Club regarding this issue.
The overriding term and focus during the presentation was “educational equity.” Douglas Dias, District Director of Finance and Operations, explained the District’s partnership with AppGeo, a Boston-based GIS (Geographic Information Systems) consulting firm to develop the map.
“They looked at data including, land parcels, streets, student addresses, grade levels and demographics,” Dias said.
Mary Murphy, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, explained that the team-teaching model will continue and “the K through 4 principals will ensure that they are following the same curriculum at all elementary schools.”
Murphy further explained that there will be an expanded wellness program for fifth-grade students. Fifth-grade students will also have access to band, orchestra, and chorus. Bergeron included the hiring of one band and one orchestra teacher in the FY 21 School budget approved by the School Committee on March 24.
On the technology front, Thomas Plati, Director of Instructional Technology, echoed the focus on equity among the elementary schools whether it concerns equipment or tech support. He explained that all third and fourth-grade students will have access to Chromebooks and grades K – 2 in all schools will have iPads in carts to use as needed. In addition, Plati explained that Smart LCD screen units will be in every classroom and he hopes to have one in every classroom, in every school, by next year.
Jody O’Brien, Director of Student Services, addressed the special education programs and how services will be provided. O’Brien said the plan is for the current therapeutic center to remain at the Kane School and students would be transported to that school as needed and the Connections Program, will remain at the Richer School. The Pathways Program for Autism and ABA students will be split with two teachers at the Jaworek School (Kane students would be transported to that program) and two teachers at the new elementary school (Richer students would be transported to the new school as needed).
Bergeron stressed, as discussed during the budget process, that the district has its “highest elementary enrollment in over 20 years.” In the English Learners (EL Program) “we are servicing over 1,200 students which has grown 85 percent in the past six years,” he said. Bergeron told the School Committee that they plan to increase EL staff and services that will be staffed “wherever the need is in the various schools.”
The $67.3 million FY21 School District budget was approved by the School Committee on March 24 and sent to Mayor Arthur Vigeant as he prepares his recommended budget for the City Council to review. The budget represents a nearly six percent increase over the FY20 budget due to a significant rise in enrollment and staffing and additional costs for the new elementary school.
To view the proposed redistricting map and approved budget document visit