CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's administrative team has reorganized and is ready to move forward with the new school configuration.
Superintendent Robert Putnam told the School Committee on Monday that the team has been working diligently over the past school year reforming the district to better serve its needs.
"The mighty administration team ... have been working hard for months trying to figure out how to pull this off," Putnam said. "This is not an easy task and it takes a complete rethinking of how we do things."
With the School Committee voting to close Cheshire Elementary School, the district will reconfigure to a two-school model. C.T. Plunkett in Adams will house pre-kindergarten through Grade 3 and Hoosac Valley High School will house Grades 4nthrough 12.
Although the closing of Cheshire School has created conflict between the two member towns and budgets have yet to be passed, Putnam said the district's new charge forward will offer more opportunities for students.
"We are working to turn around things that have been happening for a number of years and I think we have made the best of the situation that we can," Putnam said. "This is the start. This is a reboot, a hard reboot and the things that we will be working on we hope will provide the best for all of the students."
After going over some new district goals, Cheshire Principal Peter Bachli, who will become Plunkett's principal, said one of the main focuses is bringing together the teachers who will now be working together and healing the district.
"We are kidding ourselves if we say we are not bruised at the moment so we have some healing and rebuilding to do," Bachli said. "We are going to start over and have some things that are the same but some things that are different but the thing I asked everybody is that we do it together as a team. We have ground work laid out and we are looking forward to rebuilding."
He added that although the planning has not been easy he is happy that the district has a path forward.
"I am looking forward to being settled in this year and I am not going to lie, it is overwhelming to move an entire school and at the same time set up a new school," he said. "But we are going to get through this and I am looking forward to it."
Michele Colvin, Plunkett's current principal, will now become principal of Hoosac Valley Middle School.
She said she has received many questions from parents about how logistically the middle school will fit in with the high school and took some time to quell some concerns.
"We are trying to create and exclusive middle school with things just for us," she said.
Hoosac Principal Jeremiah Ames agreed and said the building was designed to operate as two separate schools and that their efforts have only enhanced this.
Colvin said high school and middle school days will begin at different times. The middle school will run from 8:14 to 2:45. Busing and lunch will be separate as well as recess.
She said although Hoosac Valley does not have a playground, Grades 4-7 are more interested in socializing and playing organized games.
She added there will be no study halls at the middle school level.
"We don't want Grades 4 and 5 going to study hall, we want them to have direct instruction and we want to have as much contact as possible," she said.
Grades 4 and 5 will have two to three teacher teams while Grades 6 and 7 will rotate through a group of four teachers.
Christopher Sposato, who will become the middle school vice principal, said they have met with incoming students and actually had them visit the school. He said they are excited to make the move to Hoosac Valley.
"If you could have seen their enthusiasm they were just sitting in the auditorium watching a movie clip and they broke out spontaneously into chants and claps," he said. "On their way out they were high fiving and from all indications they were having a great time."
Colvin said there will be an open house at Hoosac on Thursday, June 15, at 5:30 p.m. and that students are invited to visit the school during the summer and "test drive" schedules.
"We really want to try to make this as seamless as possible, and we know parents are nervous about their kids coming up here," she said. "We want to show them that they don't need to be."
Ames said high school will largely remain the same except more Advanced Placement courses will be added as well as maintaining and offering more exploratives such as choreography, creative writing, computer science, coding, medical, engineering and film courses.
"There was a concern that we were looking at dropping some of those visible electives but we were able to get them back in," Ames said. "I am proud that we can still offer those given everything the district has gone through."
Special Education Director JacquelynDaniels said the consolidation will allow her department to do more and although the district will not move to a full inclusive model, they will be able to do more "push ins" where applicable.
"We are making a marriage of two different models and I think we are going to have the best of both worlds," she said.
Chairman Paul Butler thanked the administrators and the teaching staff for all their hard work and said he felt confident that their efforts will move the district forward.
"In the advent of great change, it provides opportunities to make things better," he said. "Speaking for myself I don't want to be known as the committee who closed the school I want to be known as the committee who made difficult decisions to make education better for the children of the district. I think he enthusiasm I heard tonight is just the start of better things."
In other business, Food Service Director Roseanne Schutz secured a Community Eligibility Provisions program grant that will provide free lunch and breakfast for all grade levels in the district next school year.
She said the wildly successful program that started in Plunkett was made possible through the consolidation.
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