The new McCann library has furniture on wheels and easy chairs with laptop tables.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School is starting out the year with a new library, high enrollment — and higher expectations.
Principal Justin Kratz told the School Committee last week that there are 505 students enrolled this year, up from 488 last year.
There is a total of 560 in the school, including the 505 students in Grades 9 to 12, 53 in postsecondary courses and two postgraduates.
"We are holding very steady, our numbers are strong and we have a lot of students in the building," said Kratz. "We took in 12 new sophomores over the summer and we are still hearing of students looking to get in."
But while enrollment is up, the school dropped from Level 1 to Level 2 because of its Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System scores.
The levels are based on growth — the number of students moving up from different levels of proficiency in English language arts, math and social studies.
That was how the state was able to waive certain federal No Child Left Behind standards, said Kratz, by using the growth model.
"It's a good thing for the state of Massachusetts," said Kratz. "But for the high-performing schools, which we have traditionally been, growth is more difficult."
Superintendent Jame Brosnan assured the committee that the level isn't indicative of any student failures: "Everybody is receiving a diploma, everybody is passing."
In fact, said Kratz, only one student failed the ELA test the first time. "We're going to keep working to move those 'needs improvement' students up," he said. "We need to move more than just that one student."
Faculty will be working on the 14 new freshman who have been identified as at-risk to ensure they're ready when its time to take the test. They will also be focusing on moving up proficient students.
"We generally had the same number of students doing the same year to year," said Kratz. "We need to look at how we can move some of these proficient students to advanced, which will show the growth the state is looking for."
The principal gave his presentation in the newly renovated library on three large flat-panel screens installed on the second story wall above the round circulation desk.
The committee got an update about the class of 2013.
The room has been reconfigured to accommodate students using laptops and tablets, with wireless access, movable furniture and two work spots with plugs. The bookshelves have been placed along the walls (a door was closed off to create more wall space) to open up the room and the upper balcony has been walled in to create meeting and work spaces.
"Everything is on wheels so we can configure it anyway we want to," said Brosnan. "It gives us a lot of flexibility. It gives us more seating capacity. It's comfortable and it's 2013."
Several elements were expeted to be completed this week so the room could get an occupancy permit so students can use it.
Off the library is another room with even more high-tech learning. The former television studio is being transformed into a long-distance learning center and internal presentation space.
A set of desks with retractable monitors face two large screens at the front and several microphones hang from the ceiling. The setup will allow the school to access programming from federal agencies such as the Smithsonian and National Aeronautics and Space Agency, cultural and technical institutions and other schools.
Brosnan said he had discussed some possibilities with Vijay Kumar, dean of students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at the Crane & Co. manufacturing event
the week before. McCann had been invited to send representatives to the event and Brosnan and a number of students attended.
"Bravo!" said School Committee member James Gazzaniga.
In other business, the committee welcomed Kim Oakes as the new Monroe representative and voted to install dugouts at the new ballfield.
An open house will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 5:30.