JACKSON – Last week started the new school year and in anticipation of that Superintendent Nicole Pormilli noted some of the school district’s goals.
Board of Education goals included the areas of fiscal, curricular, and communication. School District goals included safety, connecting with students, home school connection, human resources, finances, transportation and facilities.
“Every year we go over district goals and review how well we achieved the prior year’s goals,” she said. “I was part of the strategic team that helped create our mission statement which is still very relevant to the times we are in and this should be guiding us to our core beliefs and it is very grounding to the work that we value here in the school district.”
She noted that having extracurricular activities, “a challenging curriculum, cooperation and making sure students had high expectations of themselves” were important in the school. Students need to feel secure in school and feel connected both physically and emotionally.
“We will be continuing to train our staff and raise those levels this year,” Pormilli said. “We will be looking at the emotional health of our students.” That falls into the school district’s safety goal which addresses emotional and mental health.
Pormilli said that in line with the goal of connection was focus on students being engaged with their school and relationship building with the school experience. “We want students from each school to be heard and to connect and to be socially aware.”
“Our teachers have been working on that for several years now and we are looking to expand that,” Pormilli said. She added that group learning activities re-enforce collaboration between students.
Following Pormilli’s presentation, Board President Michael Walsh reported that in preparation of the new school year, several capital projects were done such as paving work at Memorial High School, new tennis courts, work at the transportation facility as well as improvements to restrooms and kitchens.
He also noted that there would no longer be free lunch programs unlike last year but reduced meal pricing would be offered. Elementary school prices for breakfast and lunch would go from $2.85 to $2, middle school pricing would go from $3.10 to $2.25 and high school meals would go from $3.35 to $2.50. Those seeking meal cost assistance must apply to the program by October 21.
Former Board of Education member Gus Acevedo spoke during the public comment period about what he described as an attack on school libraries in regards to books being removed off the shelves across the country.
He advised the Board to consult with their attorney about the matter adding, “we can’t have education in a free democracy unless there is freedom and no book banning.”
He also reminded the Board about the importance of instructing young students about fire prevention recalling a major fire that he and Walsh were aware of in Jackson during the 1960s .